Bad-Weather Triumph

Bad-Weather Triumph

Hey, Duane here! What car would be considered unsuitable for bad-weather?

The summer of 1978 between freshman and sophomore years at college, I began searching for a cheap “bad-weather” car so I could keep my recently purchased 1969 Hurst/Olds garaged. This H/O came from Florida and was too nice to drive year-round.

Great Plan, Poor Execution

I considered different choices but no car excited me. Eventually I found a 1962 Triumph TR4 convertible located an hour away. This two-seater was black with a few small rust spots that the black color helped conceal. It was to be my bad-weather car, but it had no heater or defroster. They were removed when the seller modified the Triumph. This car was so stimulating, so unique that I didn’t care and wanted it anyway.

Black 1962 Triumph TR4 convertible, angle view
Modified 1962 Triumph TR4 (scan of old photo)

Slingshot Triumph TR4

This modified Triumph was very fast, like a slingshot! The seller wedged a 350CI V8 engine and automatic transmission from a Camaro into that lightweight Triumph. A tin can on wheels, it sure shot down the road.

Featuring a roll bar and drag style solid wheels, my father would hit the back of his head on the roll bar as the Triumph shifted into second gear at full throttle. The body rubbed the tires if I hit a bump, but it squealed the tires and WENT when I hit the gas! Flooring the car sent the ashtray flying from the dashboard. Other drivers were shocked as the Triumph blew them away. It most definitely had the GO to match the SHOW.

Winter driving was cold with no heater. I dressed appropriately and knew that the V8 engine and transmission would eventually radiate heat into the compact interior. That meant the interior could be uncomfortably warm in the summer. With no defroster, rainy days meant a perpetually fogged windshield. But I sure loved that Triumph!

Left Foot to Brake

The wide automatic transmission consumed additional interior space, narrowing the footwell. The brake and gas pedals were shifted left to where the clutch and brake pedals originated. My right foot could not effectively reach the brake so left foot braking was necessary.

The P-R-N-D sequence was reversed. Park is traditionally the forward most position but this installation on the console placed Park closest to the driver. And there was no shift interlock. Quirky!

One afternoon while parallel parked outside the college dorm with the top down, I learned a short while later that my car was on the sidewalk. Apparently, some guys thought it would be funny to push that lightweight Triumph onto the sidewalk and leave it there. #collegepranks

Black 1962 Triumph TR4 convertible, rear view

Use Caution in a Fast Car

Frustrated following a slow driver on a slightly damp two-lane road, I floored the Triumph to pass. The rear tires broke loose, and the rear end swung left in a slide towards a telephone pole. Moments later, both left tires bounced against a driveway curb saving me from the pole. Forward momentum maintained, the Triumph never stopped, and I pulled back behind that slow car. Crash averted and lesson learned!

The Triumph was so stimulating, but its down side took a toll. It most definitely was not suited for bad-weather. Next week meet its upscale replacement. Thanks, and always drive with allure!

Black 1962 Triumph TR4 convertible, top up
Modified 1962 Triumph TR4 (scan of old photo)

2 thoughts on “Bad-Weather Triumph”

  1. Oddly enough I parked next to a British Racing Green TR yesterday. I can’t fathom a V8 in that small frame…..what a rocket it must’ve been!

    1. It was a rocket indeed. That engine compartment was very tight. I don’t recall whether I replaced spark plugs. And that automatic transmission definitely cut into the original footwell space.

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