Triumph TR2 – 1953

The Triumph TR2 was a triumph of willpower. The forerunner of one of Britain’s most successful sports car series, it was created by Sir John Black, head of the Standard Motor Company and of Triumph. Standard had supplied engines to the fledgling Jaguar Company, and Black desperately wanted to share or compete with Jaguar’s success.

His first efforts, the Triumph 1800 and Triumph 2000, were classic British sports cars, but already stylistically outmoded. Then Jaguar pre-empted his plans with the fabulous XK120. The ingenious Sir John spotted a gap in the market. Necessity for strict economy in development and production drove the inspired invention of a truly beautiful, small open roadster. It hit the bullseye.

The TR2’s witches’ brew of components defied identification in the glorious finished product. The new car was based on unused frames from the prewar Standard Flying Nine. The engine was devised from the 2.1 litre four used in both the Standard Vanguard and the Ferguson tractor. The suspension and rear axle came from the Triumph Mayflower sedan (you couldn’t make this up!).

To save costs on stamping compound curves, the panels were beaten and welded; and the depth of the front intake hid a simple mesh instead of a formal grille. The designers even abandoned their idea for retractable headlight pods, and installed the fixed pods that completed the TR2’s ‘frog-eye’ front.

For something out of nothing, the TR2 was a tour de force. America loved it, too, and the car won many Sports Car Club of America events. A team of TR2s also did well in the Mille Miglia and the 24 du Mans. The car was the least expensive model capable of over 100 mph (160 km/h). For style and sheer chutzpah, it matched the very best.




1953 (until 1955)


1991 cc straight Four


Tests by Motor magazine gave a top speed of 107.3 mph (172.8 km/h), and 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 12.0 secs.


You may come across a car called a ‘long door Triumph TR2. These were the 1953 and early 1954 line production models, with doors that extended to the very edge of the car. A shorter door style was introduced in the autumn of 1954, which appears on the majority of TR2s.


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