Classic Sports Cars – The Triumph TR4
Launched at the 1961 Motor Show in London the Triumph TR4 two-seater British roadster met all the design challenges of the 1960’s with an impressively stylish designed body from Michelotti that survived for fifteen years until its descendent the TR6 was discontinued in 1976.
Two year earlier Triumph had launched the classic Herald saloon whose bodylines designed by Italian Giovanni Michelotti led to great sales success that lasted in the 1970s.
With this in mind Triumph, which had just been bought by Leyland Motors, had asked Michelotti to come up with a new sports car to replace the aging TR3 whose shape dated back to 1953 and the earlier TR2.
Distinguished by its curvaceous bodywork and bonnet hooded headlights attached to the chrome grill, mechanically the new car was similar to the TR3, however the new technology of an all synchromesh four speed manual gearbox with optional overdrive was installed.
This meant that although the TR4 had essentially the same four cylinder overhead valve 2138cc engine as its predecessor, it was a foot longer and had a wider wheelbase. The TR4 produced 100 bhp at 4600 rpm and was capable of a top speed of 102 mph. There was an option to buy the car with the old 1991cc engine for racing in sports car classes under 2000cc.
The car had a good performance for its time and could accelerate from 0 to 60 in 11 seconds and averaged around 25 miles per gallon.
In 1965 after selling 40,000 cars, the TR4 was upgraded to the TR4A.
Although outwardly similar in appearance with the exception of a walnut veneer dashboard, the TR4A was mechanically much different with the arrival of semi trailing arm independent rear suspension incorporating a new rear axle, which had been tested on the Triumph 2000 saloon since 1962. The aging pushrod engine was also upgraded with the addition of a new camshaft design which increased the car’s top speed to 110 mph.
The TR4A produced 104 bhp at 4700 rpm and was not as efficient on fuel consumption. The TR4A also included the famous Michelotti ‘Surrey top’, a semi-convertible roof with a rear roll bar window and was also the last Triumph model to carry the original Triumph Globe badge on the bonnet.
The Triumph TR4 and TR4A were manufactured at the firms Canley works in Coventry from 1961 until 1967. In all 68,718 units were produced mostly for the US and European markets. Not cheap in relation to its domestic competitors such as the MGB the car was priced at £1,106 on the road.
Fifty years on the sleek little sports car has survived the test of time. There are just under 2000 TR4s remaining in the UK today, the majority of them still on the road!