Triumph TR4A Driven

Triumph’s TR range evolved very gradually from the TR2 of the early 1950’s through to the TR6 of the mid 70’s. The cars also stayed in line with more general trends of the time, including ever straightening body profiles and increasingly refined engines and suspension design. At the beginning there were less than 2.0 litres driving a live back axle and by the end 2.5 litres, 6 cylinders and independent rear suspension. Draw a line smack bang in the middle of that evolution and you find a car with a bit of both worlds in the form of the Triumph TR4A.

This particular ‘Lakes and Dales Classic Hire’ car is a very tidy example of the mark looking completely stunning in red and definitely one to try before you buy if you’re in the market. Lakes and Dales were at pains to point out it is not concourse, although I have to say I might be tempted to enter a local event with it. Being a Triumph TR4A it has the distinctive and beautifully detailed bonnet and front light surrounds that hark back to earlier TR’s, combining well with the full height doors and sharp rear end styling of later models. The result a nicely balanced delicacy at one end, with a sense of purpose the other.

Triumph TR4A
Four cylinder engine connects TR4A to previous TRs and IRS to those afterwards

The 2.2 litre 4 cylinder engine puts its tractor like power delivery down through the, controversial at the time, independent rear suspension (IRS). A number of Triumph TR4A’s were produced with live back axles at the insistence of dealers in some markets such was the concern over IRS being accepted by the buying public. IRS of course became commonplace on later TR5 and TR6 models, only being replaced by the cheaper live back axle assembly on TR7’s and 8’s. Agricultural engine comparisons may not conjure up the most inspiring picture of power plant in any sports car it’s true. Although they do know how to pull hard from low revs and that is something that completely dominates the TR4A driving experience, as does its quality feel.

Triumph TR4A
Glorious classic British wood trimmed interior

A road going Triumph TR4A is not a car you race, except maybe up a hill, far better to simply keep feeding the high torque engine more gears, an experience enhanced even further by the option of overdrive on 3rd and 4th. Once rolling the higher gears are all that is really required to maintain effortless and surprisingly quick progress.  When you do no adjustment is required for the brakes in slowing back down, although the clutch is incredibly stiff and powerless steering heavy at junctions. Both give the car a more macho feel that provide an interesting contrast to its conservative interior and exterior styling.

Triumph TR4A
Bright red and beautifully restored Triumph TR4A is a barn find of an altogether different variety

Everything about the Triumph TR4A has a real solidity about it, from the dashboard, seats and even in how the hood stows completely flat. It definitely sits head and shoulders above an MGB convertible for instance. The IRS comes into its own when navigating our typically bumpy British back roads. Avoiding untoward banging, crashing and bump steer to provide a ride that is perfect to absorb your surroundings roof down with partner by your side. Now where’s my pipe?

The Triumph TR4A shows once again how good Triumph was, especially with Giovanni Michelotti involved.

How does this car make you feel?

In one word: Pipe-smoker

As a favourite meal: What do pipe-smokers eat, I’m guessing liver and onions, but that is only a guess?

Anything Else: Well healed English gent

Key Ingredients: High quality feel, nicely trimmed interior, low revving engine, refined ride, overdrive gearbox, detailed looks, heavy clutch and steering.


With thanks to Lakes and Dales Classic Car Hire


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