Friday, 13 February 2009

Triumph TR4A

This was my first Triumph. I bought it in July 1985 from a friend of a friend for £1,650. I knew absolutely nothing about TRs, but for some reason I had always wanted a 4A. Once I sat in it and saw the wooden dashboard, then heard the engine running and then discovered the overdrive, I was hooked.

I wasn’t put off by the scruffy appearance or the fact that the drivers-side window wouldn’t wind down, and the split seats and the leaking hood did not seem to matter. I was completely unaware of how many other TR4As there were or if I could have bought a better one anywhere. The fact that it had no MOT did not seem to worry me either.

The car was gradually done up over the next few months and used as my winter transport. I fitted a new exhaust, new battery and new front springs.

Unfortunately the following summer a lady drove her Volvo into the TR, crumpling the only steel wing on the car and bending the front suspension. The repairs turned into a body-off rebuild, which involved repairs to the chassis, renewal of most of the rear bodywork and new wings.

I had terrible trouble with the ride height of the car. The original springs were very tired and initially I replaced them with standard replacement springs. Strangely this pushed the car up to maximum height, against the bump stops. It turned out that a previous owner had put TR5 spacers in to revive the old springs and I had refitted these when I replaced the springs. It took me a long time to work this one out, though!

I became quite an expert at dismantling the front suspension as I later had to replace the worn vertical links.

In 1987 I entered the TR4A in the Circuit of Ireland Retrospective rally. This was an amazing event and a real baptism of fire for someone who hasn’t any previous rally experience. The car survived intact, despite the rough roads and fiendish navigation.

Over the next couple of years I continued to improve the car. I had the seats repaired and fitted a new double duck hood.

We missed the 1988 Circuit of Ireland Rally due to the ferry being cancelled because of the storms, but we competed again in 1989.I was always a little unhappy with the panel gaps on the car. The sills had been welded on in the wrong position before I bought the car, which meant that the wings and doors could not be lined up. As the only way to really repair it properly would be a total rebuild I decided to sell it and buy a wrecked TR3A to rebuild instead.

I sold the car in June 1990 for £6,300. This was the one and only car I have ever owned that I made a profit on!

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