HOME > LOT 160 - 1962 Triumph TR4 ‘Surrey Top’. Coachwork by Michelotti

LOT 160 - 1962 Triumph TR4 ‘Surrey Top’. Coachwork by Michelotti

LOT 160 - 1962 Triumph TR4 ‘Surrey Top’. Coachwork by Michelotti

  • UK, Right Hand Drive example
  • Purchased new by Sir Roger Makins, British Ambassador to the USA
  • Desirable overdrive gearbox and wire wheels
  • Matching numbers
  • Fastidiously maintained
  • In excellent condition throughout
  • Estimated at £19,000 to £24,000

SOLD for £20,738

ABOUT THIS CAR

“Let us get the Triumph TR4 in correct perspective from the start. It is a sports car pure and simple, not a G.T. machine, and is intended to instil fun into your motoring rather than provide effortless long-distance travel across Europe.” Motor Sport, January 1963.

Into the ‘export at all costs’ post-war sports car market the Standard Motor Company launched the immediately successful Triumph TR2 in 1953 (the “TR1” having been labelled a ‘death trap’ by its development engineer), which morphed seamlessly into the TR3 just two years later. Well engineered with good performance they were visually very similar if a little ‘pre-war’ perhaps with bodywork showing the remnants of the separate wings that the market was inexorably evolving away from. Without the spare capital to develop a replacement, the TR3 batted on like a stubborn tail end batsman, earning valuable foreign currency particularly from the USA, for the next seven years. Come 1961 the corporate coffers had recovered sufficiently to facilitate the launch of the next generation TR, not surprisingly (or that imaginatively) titled the TR4. The tried and tested running gear hung off an effective separate chassis was for the most part left well alone though the introduction of rack and pinion steering was a significant dynamic step forward. The available cash was instead splashed on the area most needing attention, namely updating the TR’s looks and incorporating such by then ‘must haves’ as wind-up windows as opposed to separate side screens. To this end Triumph, as they had been for all their new models since the Herald of 1959, turned south-southeast to the styling house of one Giovanni Michelotti. Dressed in its sharp new Italian threads, the TR4, despite its rather more staid homespun M&S underwear, proved to be just the ticket for the 1960’s sports car market.

Pitched naturally between the MGB and Austin Healey 3000 on both price and performance, TR4 sales were ‘adequate’ though frankly dwarfed by its rival from Abingdon making it a far rarer machine today.

Registered on 21st August 1962, TR4 Commission Number CT 12294/O is a relatively early car, the O suffix indicating its gearbox was equipped with the desirable Laycock de Normanville overdrive which operates on second, third and fourth gears; if your ‘modern’ has only got six speeds, you will doubtless be pretty envious of the TR’s seven.

The original Green Logbook on file shows it was finished in green, carried the registration number ‘123 FOR’ and its first owner was Sir Roger Makins, KCMG, of Sherfield Court, Sherfield-on-Loddon near Basingstoke. Sir Roger had enjoyed a distinguished career in the diplomatic service ultimately becoming Ambassador to the United States in 1952. On his return to England from Washington in 1956 he served as Joint Permanent Secretary to The Treasury until 1960 when he took up the post of Chairman of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, a roll he fulfilled with aplomb until he retired in 1964. One can assume his new TR4 provided a welcome distraction from a post which doubtless demanded considerable gravitas.

In 1964 Sir Roger’s outstanding career was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours when he was raised to the peerage as the First Baron Sherfield, of Sherfield-on-Loddon and the Triumph’s log book was updated accordingly to read “Lord Sherfield, GCB, GCMG”.

As an interesting aside, in 1934 Sir Roger married an American, Alice Davis whose father Dwight F Davis founded the eponymous international team tennis tournament still fiercely contested today.

By 1967 the TR had passed to its next custodian, a Mr Geoffrey Nobles after which the ownership trail peters out though it is noted in the car’s history file that it was registered to a Mr Trevor Owen between 1989 and 1992. In 2003 with the odometer reading some 39,000 miles, Mr Robson of Alverston, Derby insured the car before selling it to Mr Dale in Holmfirth. Dealers of repute Spinning Wheel Classic Cars Ltd. took the car on and in preparing it for sale at the end of 2005 (mileage, 40,196), commissioned and independent engineer’s report from TJ Haig & Co. a copy of which is on file; the TR suitably impressed them and no faults could be found. A Mr Blotherwick purchased the Triumph in January 2006 and being something of a perfectionist and an engineer to boot, he maintained the car to the highest of standards. In 2008 Sherwood Restorations of Southwell marketed the car for some £17,000 (bearing in mind TR’s were worth a lot less than they are today), describing it as, “Reputedly 41,000 miles from new” and “In superb condition throughout and mechanically, it’s as good as they get!” Praise indeed and a local buyer, Mr Belton from Castle Donnington purchased the TR.

Despite its billing, Mr Belton spent the next two years fastidiously improving the Triumph including having it repainted – please see below – and the cylinder head overhauled. Every detail of his ownership was meticulously recorded in a ‘diary’, right down to checking the tyre pressures. Please have a look in the photo gallery and have a read through the work carried out.

Today the TR4 looks as if it has just been parked at Sherfield Court in 1962. The bodywork is amongst the best we have seen on a separate-chassis Triumph with excellent panel fit and gaps. Almost needless to say, we could find no trace of any rust or rot at all. The paintwork remains is very good shape; even and smooth with good shine and depth. As previously mentioned, invoice and photo documentation on file indicate that the TR was repainted in 2008 in MG Rover British Racing Green and it still looks ‘booth fresh’ with the work having obviously been carried out skilfully with great attention to detail shown in oft-neglected areas such as door shuts and under the bonnet. There is just the slightest bleb in the finish and a little micro-blistering on the top of the near side front wing, though these blemishes are very hard to spot; we have tried to show them in the photo gallery.  

Set against this background the chrome-work doesn’t disappoint, being very good in most areas. The period factory option chrome wire wheels (whose tyres have plenty of tread remaining) have clearly been well maintained and the often problematic Mazak rear lights are similarly very good. Being hypercritical there is a very small amount of pitting to the boot hinges and door handles as shown in the photo gallery but these could be cost effectively replaced or re-plated.

The same high standards are maintained inside; the red with white piping leather seats are in superb condition, as are the matching carpets. The beautiful walnut dashboard (an option available when new) and door capping are in good condition with no sign of cracking to the lacquer or lifting of the veneer while the somewhat fragile plastics above and below the dash are in similarly nice order. The wood rim steering wheel is a lovely item that compliments the dashboard very well and a virtually full team of Jaeger of instruments (the ammeter being an unbranded replacement) are in play along with a period Philips radio. The ‘targa’ section of the hard top is lined for that full ‘GT’ feel.

Into the boot and the floor looks very solid indeed with a painted spare wheel present and correct. Staying with the more mundane but equally critical areas of the TR, up on the seller’s lift it is clear the Triumph is blessed with a very solid chassis. Equally encouraging, the floors, outriggers, inner sills and outer sills also look to be in similarly good condition. As can be seen in the photo gallery, the underside, while not quite as pretty as the topside, enjoys a generous coating of a protective finish, supplemented by a light misting of oil though this is not excessive or evidence of untoward leaks from the major mechanical components – engine, gearbox and differential. Well-greased suspension joints are prevalent and point to conscientious maintenance.

As can be seen in the photo gallery, the engine bay is exceptionally clean, neat and tidy and its contents are highly original down to the brass topped SU carburettors and engine driven fan. An alloy rocker cover and gorgeous period ‘SAH Accessories Conversions’ plate riveted to the head point to past tuning work but unfortunately this is not documented. An oil cooler is linked to a spin on filter via braided hoses and a high torque starter is also present along with electronic ignition – all sensible, reversible, modifications that help improve the driving experience.

Once the mechanical fuel pump has filled the carburettor float chambers, the 2138cc Vanguard derived engine starts easily and soon settles to a smooth (given its sizeable displacement for a four cylinder) 1,000 RPM idle with over 50 PSI showing on the oil pressure gauge. In line with its visual appearance, the TR certainly drives very nicely indeed, feeling taught and generally well sorted; careful maintenance over the years certainly seems to have paid dividends and we wouldn’t dispute the claims made by Sherwood Restorations.

A well organised history file accompanies the Triumph with a current V5C and most importantly the original green log book present. Succinct biographies of Lord Sherfield’s life are also present. A selection of photographs is present including some pertaining to the relatively resent respray. Various bills from the likes of Moss, Rimmers, The Service Garage Derby, TCS, and N Grayson auto electric are present along with some thirteen old MOT certificates and a few tax discs. The TJ Haig & Co. engineer’s report, a dynamometer print out and assorted correspondence from suppliers accompany the aforementioned ownership diary produced by Mr Belton.

In lovely condition throughout, the TR has covered just 2,800 miles in last fourteen years, and though nearly half of those miles have been in the last couple of years, in our opinion it is begging for more use. We trust a fortunate new owner will do its condition justice and keep it well exercised.

  • Registration number: FSL 955
  • Chassis Number: CT 12294/O
  • Engine Number: CT 12270/E

COMMENTS

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BID OF £17,150.00 PLACED BY thomson.mgbg@btinternet.com

February 15th at 07 : 36 PM

BID OF £12,050.00 PLACED BY Paulw

February 15th at 07 : 34 PM

BID OF £16,150.00 PLACED BY TRguy

February 15th at 04 : 54 PM

BID OF £16,050.00 PLACED BY Paulw

February 15th at 04 : 26 PM

BID OF £14,100.00 PLACED BY TRguy

February 15th at 03 : 55 PM

BID OF £8,050.00 PLACED BY Aero

February 15th at 03 : 10 PM

BID OF £13,050.00 PLACED BY TRguy

February 15th at 11 : 39 AM

BID OF £12,901.00 PLACED BY lux77

February 14th at 04 : 22 PM

BID OF £10,050.00 PLACED BY Paulw

February 13th at 12 : 16 PM

BID OF £39,100.00 PLACED BY Aero

February 10th at 09 : 32 PM

BID OF £100.00 PLACED BY AndrewM

February 10th at 01 : 04 PM