Bob Hohanshelts '54 TR 2
I bought TS22L in San Diego in Sept ’64 when I finally got out of college and got my first job as an electrical engineer. With a wife and three young children I felt I could not afford a TR3A or Austin Healy at around 2-3 grand (six months salary) so I bought the 10 year old TR 2 for $750. At the time it was painted metallic green but the original “split pea soup” color was visible in spots. It is curious that the TR histories do not admit to using this color until much later in production. An uncle who was a mechanic at a dealership claimed that some cars arrived in such ugly colors that the dealer simply repainted them to make them more sellable.
I drove the car to work daily through 1972. Sports cars were popular among young engineers so once a week we would have mini slalom races in the parking lot during lunch. Each participant was expected to provide at least 6 traffic cones for the event. One of us would lay out the course while another would be the timer. A Corvette owner might design the course with three long straight-aways while a Mini owner would make the whole course a series of tight S turns. The idea was to set your fastest time and then trade cars to prove if it was car or driver. I eventually learned how to use the handbrake to introduce a rear-end slide in order to fool the non-synchro tranny into going into first gear. (New rear axels were still available from BAP in those days).
We moved to Arizona in 1973 and my son drove the TR 2 to Scottsdale High and ASU until he could afford something with more sex appeal. His two younger sisters lusted after the TR 2 also but I began to realize that a TR in the hands of a teenager is too maintenance intensive. So the TR just rested in the garage until they were all out of college and had other modes of transportation. Around 1982 I decided to fix the TR 2 up a little. No frame-off, but practically everything else was done. The body was sandblasted to get rid of that ugly green paint and I repainted it GM Passenger Car White because the color is widely available and likely to remain so for my lifetime.
The original steel rims began to crack and I could find no replacements so I got a set of used wire wheels instead. One curious aspect of the TR 2 is that the spare tire well is too small to accept a wire wheel spare. They did not increase the size of the spare tire well until later when wire wheels were offered as an option.The “bonnet” of the first 100 or so cars was made of soft aluminum which tends to dent easily. Especially if your son’s high school buddies sit or stand on it. The internal bonnet latches are released by a knob with interconnected cables so precise adjustment is required to get both sides to release at once. If one side does not release, or if the cable breaks you are in deep yogurt! Consider for a moment how you would achieve this precise adjustment when you can’t even see the problem with the bonnet closed! It is easy to see why they put Dzues fasteners on later models.
I should point out that while the TR 2 may be the progenitor of the TR 3/3A/3B, they are totally different animals. There is hardly a single part that interchanges. Many parts such as aluminum rock guards are produced in the after-market for the more common 3A but they simply don’t fit a 2! Popular folklore has it that that the first few bodies were produced at Mullners for hand assembly to see if everything would fit. As you can see by looking at my TR 2 — they just barely fit!
I am unable to drive the TR 2 at the present time because the wind noise drives my hearing aids berserk. I suppose I could turn them off, but what is the fun in driving a TR if you can’t hear that fruity exhaust. I suppose I could also sell it, but it is almost a member of the family and that would cause a mini-revolt amongst my adult children. So it now just rests in my sons’ garage in Tempe waiting for my grandsons to reach driving age.