By 1960, Triumph was established as a maker of fast, quality sports cars, with the emphasis on performance. They began the new decade with the fast, but dated looking, TR3A, but in 1961 launched a new car, the TR4.
It had sharp new body designed by Italian stylist, Giovanni Michelotti. The new car had windup windows, luxury for a sports car of that age, and an enlarged version of the TR3A's engine with a capacity of 2138cc.
For its price of £1138, no other sports car could match its performance. The top speed approached 110mph and the TR4 accelerated from 0-50mph in 7.9 seconds. Corresponding figures for the rival MGA 1600 Mk II were 101mph and 9.7 seconds and even the twin cam MGA could not match the 0-50mph time.
Performance was not the whole story. The motoring press criticised the Triumph TR4's handling and ride. Motor liked the performance and they also found the ride comfortable and predictable on flat, smooth surfaces. But they were not happy with the car's handling on poor road surfaces. Motor's verdict was that the TR4 would only appeal to die-hard Triumph enthusiasts. Wider appeal would need improvements to handling.
Motoring Which?'s testers were even less impressed. They found the TR4 'bumpy' even on ordinary roads and overall they thought the car was 'uncomfortable and tiring' to drive. In spite of the Triumph's better performance, Motoring Which? had little difficulty in awarding top marks to the MGB when they did their test in 1965. On price the MGB was also cheaper: £870 as opposed to £921 for the TR4.
In answer to some of the criticisms of the TR4, Triumph replaced it in March 1965 with the TR4A. The new car had independent rear suspension system and a revised chassis. The body was similar, but there was a new grille. The new car also had chrome strips running down the side finishing in new style indicator lamps.
Motor liked the changes made to the TR4A. However, Motoring Which? did not. They tested it in January 1968. They still criticised the ride, which seemed to transfer all the bumps on the road surface to the driver. The chief tester commented that 'never for many years have we suffered so much physical hardship'. I wonder if they had a bad car to test?
The TR5, launched in 1968, was the first British car with fuel injection. The TR5 had a new 2498cc 6 cylinder engine derived from that fitted to the Triumph 2000 saloon. It had a top speed of 117mph and 0-60mph time of 8.1 seconds. These performance figures put the Triumph TR5 well ahead of the MGB, although it was now a much more expensive car.
Add your comments
Vintage, retro & social history