I never dreamed that falling in love with my husband, Mike, would mean falling in love with vintage cars.
We were freshmen in college when I met “Bubbles,” the resident TR, in my now in-law’s garage. Bubbles was a light blue 1959 TR3A that immediately caught my eye. As I wandered through the garage that spring day, I also spied an Austin Healey 100-4, an Allard L-type, and an Allard K2. I quickly learned that cars had always been a part of Mike’s life. In fact, there were cars that had been family members longer than Mike!
While we were dating, Mike and I attended Vintage Rallies on crisp New England fall days in the Healey, watched numerous VSCCA races at Limerock, and attended hill climbs. I slowly became adept at identifying old cars. Fast forward through a college graduation, a wedding ceremony, and a first home. In 2002, Mike and I were able to purchase our first vintage car, an Allard K3. It was a special car that was owned by a family friend and in which Mike rode on several occasions as a child. We were smitten with the car, its racing history, quirky handling, and copious amounts of torque. There was only one problem; I couldn’t reach the pedals.
One year later, I’d had enough serving only as “passenger extraordinaire,” and told Mike that he couldn’t be the only one having all the fun! That began our search for the perfectly sized British roadster. After a few months of Hemmings catalogs and testing out seats in a variety MGs and Triumphs, I found a car I thought might be the one – a 1969 TR6. I had finally found a car that I could comfortably see over the hood, reach the pedals, and handle the steering. There was one catch however – the eccentric, but fanatical owner. We spent several weeks driving the 60+ miles to visit the car, to make sure it was right for us, and to prove that we would, indeed, provide a good home for her.
Little did we know the tricks our newly purchased TR6 would play on us. When we got home, we learned that she was pouring oil out of a valve cover, which was held on with bailing wire and unending optimism. The second trip out of the driveway (20-feet from our garage) the ignition switch decided to catch fire. These two events began Mike’s campaign to make the car safe and reliable enough for me to drive back and forth to my work. Our car’s tricks created her nickname, “Trixie,” spelled Tr6ie, for all of the tricks she has played on us over the past few years.
Tr6ie has had new tires and wheels, a high-compression cylinder head with petrol ignition spec cam, an alloy valve cover, pertronix ignition, rebuilt carbs, new brakes all around including master cylinder, new suspension bushings, new shocks and a rear tubular shock conversion kit, and all of the Lucas smoke has been forced back into her electronics. She now starts every time, is a blast to drive, and ironically, has never let me down. And thanks to Mike, that’s my Tr6ie!!
In 1979, I purchased my first Triumph, a used dark brown Spitfire from the British Leyland dealer in Kansas City. I traded in my 1971 Mustang and never looked back. At the time I kept searching for a TR-6 but couldn’t find any that were in good enough shape and affordable while in graduate school. The brand new yellow ’76 TR-6 in the dealership was tempting but way over my pocketbook at $7000. I kept the brown Spitfire for four years until I went back to school and then had to sell it for tuition.
After I moved to Phoenix in 1987, I kept looking for a TR-6 but just never found one I liked. I purchased another Spitfire in 1993, a used 1980 in white with only 12,000 miles. It had been in storage for 10 years but almost immediately I got an offer to sell it for twice what I had paid and was once again without a Triumph.
In 1996, I finally found a white TR-6 which seemed to be in good enough shape at a reasonable price. The previous owner in the process of restoring it but as it turned out it still needed a lot of work. I have since replaced the engine twice and have progressed from dual Weber to triple Keihin carburators. With the exceptions of the rear end and body paint everything else has been repaired or replaced.
Last summer while surfing E-Bay I located a 1978 Spitfire in BRG with less than 17,000 original miles. Ironically, like its relative I had purchased in 1993, this Spit also had been in storage for a long period of time. So after a week of bidding I was the owner of two Triumphs.
This past spring after walking into AZ SuperBikes on a whim I realized I had finally come across a Triumph which would be relatively maintenance free, would not leak on my garage floor, would be the fastest Triumph I would ever own and above all would be the most fuel efficient, a red 955i Daytona. So now I have a Triumvirate of Triumphs each one very special in its own right.
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.
I’ve been a Triumph nut all the way back to my senior year of High School, 1977 when I purchased a 1974 Pimento Red TR6, which I still own. While still living in Ohio I traveled to Texas, Colorado and took many trips up and down the east coast.
I moved to Arizona in 1999 and in 2001 came up against the AZ Emission test in which I failed numerous times. At this time I decided to restore the car. I have always enjoyed taking things apart, but the problem was it took me off the road for 3 years. This time I was able to get it thru emissions after discovering a bad cam shaft.
In May of 2006 I ventured away from Triumph’s and purchased a 1958 BN4 Austin Healey to restore only to find a bent frame and other untold ugly stories with the car. Needless to say, I sold it 9 months later to someone that was going to make a street rod out of it and didn’t care about the problems.
Which brings me to my latest purchase. After looking at an old DCTRA membership list I made a random call to a great couple in Tucson. After explaining who I was and that I was inquiring if they knew anyone who had a TR3 for sale. It turns out they had been thinking of selling their 1956 TR3. They purchased the car in 1958 in Tempe so the car has spent most of it’s time in Arizona. The first year of the car’s life is unknown.
The car is a Salvador or Winchester Blue with factory overdrive, and a steel hard top. The car has all of original rust fee panels except for the deck lid, which blew off while being transported to Tucson. I will need to replace or repair the bonnet, it was louvered back in the 60’s. Is anyone looking for a louvered TR3 bonnet?
As you can see from the picture, I should have plenty of help and supervision from Mallard and Ladybug.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Simon Kotsailidis and my wife Marie and I moved to the valley from New York in 2001. We live in Southeast Chandler. She is a CPA and I work for Woodside homes as a back-end Superintendent. We both dabble in the real estate market for kicks. When we need money, we buy a house and resell it!!! We’ve met some great people here and call it our home. I’ve always had my heart on the TR6 since I could remember….And I’m only 37 years old! My wife knew that if given a choice, I would rather have a beat up TR6 over a new Corvette. With that in mind, she gave me the green light to go and find a TR to restore. It is still a dream to me today that I own this car.
Yes, It is true…My 1970 TR6 has been in the process of a rest-Mod since last May of ’06. The details of this resurrection are as follows. I bought the car from a young man in California through a non paying Ebay bidder. The car needed drastic mechanical work as well as body work. There was not an inch of straight metal on it! There was a blown differential and the car could not be driven more than 3 MPH. The car sat on the side of my house until I could evaluate which way and extent I should go with the restoration. Well, Luck would have it as we cashed out of an investment property when my wife Marie, decided to get this poor car back on the fast track to its former glory.
Soon thereafter, I was on the phone talking to Tony Vigliotti of Ratco (Ratco.com) ordering the best of upgrades on my new frame. It took about three months to get but worth every moment and penny. The frame arrived late in January of ’07. I sent the motor out to Gruelichs engines (Gruelichsengines.com) for a rebuild along with polished and ported heads, Roller rockers and balancing. Greg Gruelich did a wonderful job. The bumpers were restored and rechromed by Papago Plating in Phoenix. Next up was the reliability and strength of a Toyota 5spd from Herman Van Den Akker. (HVDA.com) Herman was awesome to work with as he had great patience with me deciding which clutch and hydraulic bearing would work with my setup. New Laycock pressure plates were sourced out of England, so I bought two of them!
I am one who believes these cars are to be driven and enjoyed and to be shown to the world on our everyday streets. My restoration was to make this car bulletproof yet look absolutely original from the outside. Richard Good (Goodparts.com) was a great help in communicating his upcoming new products. Aside from purchasing his Diff conversion, I waited two months for the release of his Nissan Axles which I received in great excitement! Richard has been amazing at calling me with status reports.
The bodywork started off great until I received the tub from the shop (name withheld for now) after three months to find it had been painted in a wind storm! I was soooooo disappointed that it affected my life for days until I mustered up the courage to complain. They took the tub back and after another $1500 and two months, I received it only 40% better. I ordered new sheetmetal and assembled the car. After searching high and low for a restoration shop willing to take on my project, I had finally found Liquid creations (Liquidcreations.net) and met Spencer the owner. He is a dedicated car buff and places attention to details. His beliefs are to make it look gorgeous since his reputation stands behind the work. It is finally going to be painted in the next week or so after intense re-bodywork to clarify the wrongdoings of the last shop.
In conclusion, This car will be repainted a slight darker shade of french blue, have a supercharger, alloy radiator, alloy sump and rocker cover, Toyota trans, Nissan diff and axles, Ratco powdercoated frame with coil over shocks. A new driveshaft made by Mesa Driveshaft will replace the old unit, NOS Tail lights and sidelights, Leather seats, NOS BL 8 track radio, New wiring powerblock harness (Britishmcce.com) , electric cooling fan, Stainless headers and exhaust, Mallory Unilite Distributor with tach drive and Hyfire IV ignition, and more goodies!
Most important of all, is my loving wife. She has been the rock through all this. It is through her support that is making this possible…..Our spare bedrooms are now parts bins! I hope to have the car ready by September and look forward to meeting everyone!
“Our” 1971 TR6 became part of the family with the help and encouragement of “Digger” Davitt. I’d known Digger for quite a few years prior and although partial to TR3’s he fostered all things Triumph. In fact, we became acquainted due to his love of Triumph cars and my British motorcycle affliction.
The purchase of the car is a unique story that you need to ask me about.
Since obtaining the car I’ve tried to “improve” it by installing Herman’s trans kit, a supercharger, roller rockers, alum flywheel, Toyota calipers, …………………….
It’s a work in progress.
When I bought this car in 1983, I had never kept up a car. I’d changed oil and filters – but my understanding of the internal combustion engine was “limited”.
The day I sat down in the drivers seat of this 1966 Triumph TR4A IRS with the original overdrive transmission I was hooked. I turned my head to the then owner and proclaimed – “how much do you want for it?” – “Love at first seat” – I drove it home.
Over the last 24 years, I have become intimately familiar with most of the inner and outer workings of this car. I’ve changed water pumps, starters and transmissions. I’ve taught myself to rebuild and tune Zenith Stromberg Carburetors. I’ve converted the car to alternator power, added an electric fan – you name it – I’ve probably “busted knuckles” over it.
Obviously, this was self preservationist thinking as mechanics in Louisiana – where the car and I are from – laughed and kidded at the off mention of repair work for pay. I kept it running and enjoyed every minute behind the wheel.
Until I got to Arizona.
In Spring of 2000, I moved to Arizona on a search for opportunity. I found it and was certain of it by September of that same year. My wife, Martha, and daughter, Alexis, moved here. We found and purchased a house – and contracted a mover to bring our belongings, including the TR, to Arizona.
By the time the car arrived, it had been sitting for almost a year. It was relegated into our third garage stall for a year. I worked on it, got it running, took Martha for a test ride, and lost first gear at the corner of Bush Highway and Usery Road. When we got home, limping without 1st or Reverse, I put it back in the garage and walked away.
By the Spring of 2004, I ran an add to sell it.
A fellow by the name of Jim Bauder came by to look and made an offer. As I listened to his offer, I was overcome by my affection for the TR – refused the offer – and got about getting her back on the road.
By Fall of 2005, I’d had the car in better shape than ever while under my ownership. Upgraded front suspension with shocks and polyurithane bushings, new bearings and u joints everywhere, new brake pistons and friction surfaces, rebuilt everything rebuildable in the running gear, spin on oil filter, new wheels and tires, new clutch, Petronics in the Distributor, 12v Cooling Fan, alternator upgrade and got all the lights and electrics – including the horn – working.
Everything was cool until January of 2006 when the motor lost oil seal rings in the two rear cylinders.
In March 2006 the engine was removed for rebuild. About a month later, I started taking her apart. So far, The chassis has been sandblasted, painted and rebiult. The body has been sandblasted and primed. I (with the help of a few “Close” frends) have replaced both floors, inside and outside rockers, rear valances and rear. Right now I’m (we’re) fabricating pieces to replace pieces that are rusted through.
In spring of “81, I purchased my first Triumph. It was a baby blue 72 Spitfire 1500. I bought it off a family in north Houston. I had just changed jobs and didn’t have a company car anymore so I needed backup wheels, as my main car was a 74 Europa. I figured that two british cars might be as reliable as one real car. Plus, an open car appealed to me after briefly owning a Healy in the “70’s. When I relocated 6 months later, I let the Spit go.
In the summer of “82, I came to the Valley to attend the “Willy” school for wayward young men. The Europa wasn’t the most optimum as there was no A/C, tiny windows and an anemic fan. I called it my rolling sauna. However, a fellow student from Maine with a “74 TR6 wanted to trade keys periodically. The bug was back; well maybe the idea of natural air conditioning was uppermost. I located my TR6 in Mesa and bought it off a real estate agent. I drove that poor car hard. Still do. It took me faithfully to New Mexico, back to PHX and on to California. Up the coast to Spokane, back to CA, through PHX and on to Grand Forks ND. The Europa was laid up for a long time following a small incident coming down the mountain from Ruidoso. In “90, my wife and I decided to come back to the Valley, actually, it was one of my few job offers. As we had 4 vehicles, I let the Europa go as it was worth the most and we needed the money. The TR was trailered down.
In the 130k plus hard motoring miles, the TR hasn’t been restored nor has required anything really more major than clutches. What a piss poor design. I had it repainted about 6 years ago following an incident in the garage. Oh well. I have pretty much done my own work for the past 25 years of ownership and find the car easy and straightforward.
This 1974 Red Triumph Spitfire 1500 I purchased for $350.00 in 1978 when I was just 18 years old. My best high school friend sold me the car. I’m still good friends with Bobby Alford today. He can’t believe I still own and drive this little sports car and it looks the way it does! It was a machine I saw great potential in when I was young and naive. However, at the time I bought it the car was an absolute jalopy and ready for the junkyard. It quietly sat in my parent’s driveway for almost 3 years continuing to deteriorate from the dampness, rain, and salt air parked near the Atlantic Ocean due to a lack of financial resources on my part. I was actually able to get the car running in 1981 and drove it everyday to college and evening work until I graduated in 1987. It was at this time that I began to restore it to the state that it enjoys today! It took me over 3 years and a ridiculous amount of money to resurrect the car from the dead. Finally in 1991, the restoration of this vehicle was completed. This car represents an enormous piece of my adult life from teenage years to middle age and all in between. Everytime somebody in public compliments me about how they think my car is cute or nice, I nostalgically remember what I had to endure over many years of headaches and expense to attain that wonderful and deeply appreciated comment! Somehow it all becomes worthwhile just from kind words from a stranger……I fully expect to have this car for the rest of my life at which time my beloved daughter Aubrey will inherit this double edged yet fun filled extinct sword born in Great Britain…
When I acquired my TR3 I was actually the president of the San Diego MG Club! They did not kick me out, but I was also not re-elected. That was in Nov. ’94, so I guess I’ve had the car for over 12 years now. The MG is gone, and the TR3 is much nicer than it was when I got it. It had sat for over a dozen years in a garage in San Diego, sidelined by a broken pinion gear, and I had it up and running in pretty short order… until we realized that the engine needed a complete rebuild! We moved to Arizona in Jan. ’97 and immediately joined the DCTRA. The car was definitely a beater, but was relatively rust free and fairly reliable. When it became so worn out that even I didn’t feel safe in it (that’s seriously worn) we made a deal with Paul Mcafee to do the paint job and bodywork, and whatever incidental work it might need. 18 months and somewhat north of $20 grand later, we had the car back basically as you know it now. Fortunately, my daughter got a college scholarship, ’cause the car pretty much ate up all the savings account and then some.
Now, I think I can call it money well spent, as we have enjoyed over 20,000 miles of trouble-free Triumph motoring, with trips to Missouri, Lake Tahoe, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and in-state trips too numerous to mention. My only problem is not having enough time to spend behind the wheel! Triumph’s forever!