Run by Julian Balme
Owned since October 2015
Total mileage unknown
Miles since March 2016 report none
Latest costs plenty
RACE PREPPING TURNS SERIOUS
I ended my first and only report on the Triumph with the question ‘what could possibly go wrong’. Where shall I start? They say one man’s race car is another man’s scrap and in our case they’re not kidding. Although the yellow peril had been used solely for competition since the early ’80s, during the preceding two decades it must have endured a very hard life.
The panel fit should have given myself and co-owner James Mitchell an inkling as to what lay beneath. As is always the case, though, it was only once Neil Howe and his body man Paul Empson started pulling the car apart that the inventiveness and faith of previous owners came to light. This was never going to be a quick respray and get out there, but the rebuild wasn’t meant to be quite as involved as it became. Alarm bells went off once the chassis was separated from the body, and at one point discussions were had about the merits of replacing the former.
After repairs ranging from cutting out rust to straightening suspension mountings, though, we managed to resurrect the original frame. With the panels removed, the shell was sent for blasting, revealing more evidence of abuse. The popriveted sill repairs were almost amusing but the lack of metal in the driver’s footwell was frightening.
Paul’s welding skills were challenged for more than a week while he sewed up the remains, but once covered by a coat of Sebring White the tub looked almost new. He also scraped the old paint from the wings and doors, which fortunately don’t require too much attention, but the bootlid turned out to be pretty ugly. Hopefully, by the time you read this, Paul will be realigning the panels and preparing the rest of the Triumph for the top coat.
As Neil started to put the suspension back onto the chassis, he found a number of mods that can only be described as ‘purple-sky thinking’.
One front corner, for instance, wore the correct TR4 wishbones and upright but the opposite side was from a TR6, and the anti-roll bar was so thick it was tearing the frame at its mounting points. There’s a certain amount of ‘them and us’ with regards to the way historic race cars are prepared in America and how we do it here, but our hopes that it would be a common language have been dashed the further we’ve got into the project.
Obviously budget is a factor but a lot of the expense we’ve incurred has been as a result of reinstating items that were thrown away in the USA. The FIA requires us to run with a windscreen and hardtop, it must be possible to wind up the side windows, and you need a handbrake, lights, wipers and washers.
None of those are required Stateside. It all adds up and, although the likes of Rimmer Brothers carry a huge array of parts, not everything is available new and some secondhand prices for the rarer items are nothing shy of eye-watering.
The roll-bar, which appeared to have been modelled on an old tubular brass bedhead, has now been replaced with a full FIA-spec cage, made by Safety Devices but available only through TR Enterprises for some reason. We had to wait six weeks for it to arrive, but it fitted perfectly with no alterations. All the other European racing TRs are running exactly the same configuration.
Likewise, a new pedalbox has replaced the old TR6 item. The brakes are in and bled, suspension rebuilt and hung. The US engine and gearbox untouched and installed, although we have ordered new Weber carburettors and an oil pump from Mass Engineering to replace the SUs and Accusump system that came with the car. Neil is doing an incredible job and his attention to detail is rivalled only by his patrons, one of whom – James Mitchell – has christened the Triumph ‘Chuck’.
An apt name given the amount of money that we’re throwing at it. In our hands it won’t be the fastest car out there, but I’m confident it will be the smartest and now the safest.
Neil Howe: 01767 677800
Paul Empson: 01954 267878
Four-cylinder motor has been left alone, but will be getting new Webers. Note the reinstated windscreen, hardtop and FIA-spec cage.
Rebuilt front suspension is installed on the Triumph’s original chassis. Shell looks good with a fresh coat of paint Master cylinders fitted. Comedy sill repair was rather eye-opening. Blasting revealed rot in one of the A-posts. Bootlid turned out to be in a parlous state.