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Considering a TR2, drivable in modern traffic?

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Ophitoxaemia James C
Berkeley, USA   USA
An early TR2 has been in the family since 1970, in good condition and stored since the early 1980's. I'm considering taking ownership.

I would want to drive it, and where I live freeways are crowded and speeds are often over 75 mph combined with long stretches creeping along under 5 mph. Can't completely avoid freeways here.

Can this car mechanically handle these conditions? If you have experience driving in these conditions, is there enough power to not be a traffic hazard? How does it handle stop and go traffic, with little air moving over the radiator?

BTW- I already have a car with no windows, wipers, or heat, and I've survived 6 years so far daily driving an older Jaguar. So I kind of know what to expect from owning such a thing.

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TR3driver Randall Y
Confusion, Los Angeles, USA   USA
I've driven several TRs to work every day on Los Angeles freeways for a bunch of years.
Power is no problem, you should have no trouble keeping up even at 80 mph, although I have to say that overdrive is nice for higher speeds. Not essential, but nice.

People tell me that those front drum brakes can be made to work well, but I was never happy with them on a previous TR3. Seemed like they always wanted to pull, and it was rarely the same twice in a row. Personally, I like the later front discs much better, and would convert if I wanted to drive an earlier car in traffic. (I sold the car instead, after robbing the OD.)

Cooling is a bit marginal for a heavy traffic jam in hot weather. I survived with it for a long time by keeping one eye on the gauge and doing things like flipping the key off whenever I had to slow down or stop. Eventually I converted to an electric fan, which solved the problem (once all the other issues were identified and fixed).

I also felt that brighter rear lights were essential, especially when the wife couldn't tell the difference between brake lights and tail lights. Seems that most drivers are just not looking for such a small car, the bright lights help at least a little bit. I also built a logic device to make the corner lamps serve as stop, turn and tail (the stock configuration is only one brake light in the center).
And I also modified the center light so that the license plate light does not show red to the rear (to increase the contrast when the brake light is on). Since I was fiddling around with custom LEDs anyway, I also made the brake light flash 4 times, but that's probably more than most will want (and may be illegal).

Handling on the stock skinny tires was OK, but I wanted more. So I wound up with TR6 wheels (which are a direct bolt on) and wider, stickier tires. With that and some Kevlar brake linings (from TSi), my feeling is that I can out-stop most cars on the road.

In short, I think its quite doable, with some slight modifications.



Randall
56 TR3 TS13571L Once and future daily driver
71 Stag LE1473L awaiting engine rebuild
7? Stag awaiting gearbox rebuild

2long Dan M
Honolulu, HI, USA   USA
And as a counterpoint to Randall, I have the TR2 in original setup, with the front drums, 155 tyres, and stock lights. I took it out today in freeway traffic and stop and go, and it was a great outing. It does not like poor roads with potholes and such, and the overdrive is really a help on the freeway. It has plenty of power for sure, but I tend to stay on the right and keep it at the speed limit. In traffic I have no problems with overheating, but I have removed the hole in the radiator and installed an uprated core and tropical 6-blade fan. That combination, along with a motor rebuild that made sure to remove all crud from the waterways, makes for a cool ride even in tropical stop and go. The Lockheed system, dim lights, no seat belts and worm-and-peg steering does come with some risks, but if all the systems are maintained it is fine. I will say that each drive is an exercise in defensive driving.

Dan

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Geo Hahn Avatar
Mt Lemmon, AZ, USA   USA
Not much to add to the above - have driven in all sorts of conditions but rush-hour freeway traffic is the least likely to bring a smile to my face.

Doable, but not much joy in it.

As I have said before - with other cars you merely arrive, but in a TR3 (or 2) you feel like 'I have cheated death again'.

Ophitoxaemia James C
Berkeley, USA   USA
Great info, thanks!

At what point are these types of modifications considered destructive to the authenticity or character of the car? For example if there is drilling needed to install an electric fan? What if that requires a bigger generator and battery?

I'll have to reconsider the safety angle. I've cheated death for 18 years in a Cobra roadster replica, but I have an aluminum race seat and 5 point harness. No seat belts is hard to imagine these days, especially with young children.

trjohnnie John Malinick
Mirror Lake, NH, USA   USA
I own a 54 TR2,# TS 604L No problems on the highways. I always look at it like a 4 wheeled motorcycle. Remember it set the world record for a 2 liter car in Belgium back in 54 at about 124 mph.

TR3driver Randall Y
Confusion, Los Angeles, USA   USA
I used to not care so much; but with this latest TR3 (one of the relatively few 56 built with Girling brakes), I've been being more careful about "permanent" modifications.

The electric fan worked fine on the previous TR3A, held only by the supplied plastic "spikes" through the radiator core. I took my radiator guy's advice and tried to position them where they didn't rub against any tubes; never had any leaks in that area.

This time around, I had them solder some mounting tabs to the radiator frame. If I should ever decide to go back to a stock fan, I can just melt the solder, pull the tabs off, and repaint.


I went fully electric, so there is a blanking plate where the original fan extension used to be; the extension and fan are on the shelf in case I should ever want to go back.

The stock 19 amp generator is adequate, just barely (and with some attention, like occasional off-line recharging the battery). I got what appeared to be the original generator and control box with the car, and used them for almost 10 years. (With routine service, contact cleaning, new bearings and so on.) But when the wrappings around the field windings rotted away on the original, and the windings I robbed from another generator proved to be internally shorted (plus I burned my thumb on the overheated contacts); I decided to do another alternator conversion. It was surprisingly easy to fit one of the "mini" Japanese alternators and it fit very well. I used (modified) the pulley from that spare generator, and a control box from the junk bin (which didn't work anyway). The original parts are still on a shelf. No changes at all to the engine, sheet metal, or original wiring (I'm still flogging the original wiring harness, although the cloth wrapping is rotten in many places). And it even makes it easier to change the belt!




Besides, I firmly believe it is your car, it should please you. Whether and how much to modify is a personal decision; I don't think there is any "should" to it. If maintaining a few $1000 in value is more important to you than enjoying the car, IMO you're in the wrong hobby.

Personally, I have absolutely no intention of ever selling my TR. Nor do I have any qualms at all about "cheating" my heirs out of their inheritance. They'll probably liquidate all my Triumph treasures for pennies on the pound anyway! (None of them has shown the least interest in my hobbies anyway.)



Randall
56 TR3 TS13571L Once and future daily driver
71 Stag LE1473L awaiting engine rebuild
7? Stag awaiting gearbox rebuild

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TR3driver Randall Y
Confusion, Los Angeles, USA   USA
In reply to # 1534545 by Ophitoxaemia Great info, thanks!

At what point are these types of modifications considered destructive to the authenticity or character of the car? For example if there is drilling needed to install an electric fan? What if that requires a bigger generator and battery?

I'll have to reconsider the safety angle. I've cheated death for 18 years in a Cobra roadster replica, but I have an aluminum race seat and 5 point harness. No seat belts is hard to imagine these days, especially with young children.

A couple more points:

I've been in some fairly major accidents (and some minor ones); lost my previous 59 TR3A in a 4 car pile-up on the 91 freeway. The lack of seat belts has never been a problem; but I do have an old whiplash injury from the lack of headrests on the seats (from another incident where I was rear-ended in surface traffic). I actually picked up a pair of Miata seats with the intention of modifying them to fit in the TR, but never followed through on that.

You can add a lap belt if you want, they were actually dealer options on the later cars. But honestly, I don't see that it would add that much safety for an adult. Any really bad accident is likely going to kill you whether you are restrained or not, since the car totally lacks rollover or side impact protection, and you've got that long spear aimed right at your chest. Your best chance (and it's a very slim one) is probably to get thrown clear!

Young children is a different matter; one that I have not had to address. CA law actually forbids having little kids in cars without belts, even when the car itself is not required to have them.

The stock battery box is big enough to hold a group 27 battery, with room to spare. Back when I lived where it snowed (and drove the TR to work even in snow), I found a group 27 rated some 800 CCA; which should be plenty. Overkill really, when combined with the 60 amp Ford alternator I also installed; but that sucker would start even when the family sedan wouldn't! I carried a set of jumper cables so I could give jump starts to others.



Randall
56 TR3 TS13571L Once and future daily driver
71 Stag LE1473L awaiting engine rebuild
7? Stag awaiting gearbox rebuild

ts2183o Marc H
Ashburn, VA, USA   USA
Even though there are many excellent posts, your question is about a TR2. I have been driving my 1954, TR-2 for the past 10-years (TS-2183-O) in both NC and VA. I shy away from none of the roads but work hard to take the back ones simply due to the idiot fast drivers, not the capability of the car. I have original Lockheed brakes front and rear, stock fan and it does get hot when sitting in traffic. The overdrive is invaluable for the 70- MPH!

Marc

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DonP Avatar
DonP Don P
Frankfort, IL, USA   USA
IMNSHO, one of the big advantages of the TR series, compared to the older MGs and comparably aged classics, is it can keep up with modern traffic at speed.

Assuming you keep the TR2 well maintained, with decent, preferably radial, tires, I can't see any reason why you can't enjoy it for commuting on a daily basis.

Upkeep will take more of your time than driving some modern compact SUV and you'll have to make little adjustments (no cup holders!) but the fun will far out weigh any issues. You will find your self looking forward to the drive home and the drive in every day.

(Plus, if you drive on any toll roads, your proximity to the ground can net you a profit for each toll booth stop. I averaged about 50 cents per booth when I drove the toll road. Just reach down and ... there it is!)

rbhouston Avatar
rbhouston Robert Houston
El Paso, Texas/NM, USA   USA
Take the car, then move out of state....

RBH

malbaby Avatar
malbaby malcolm baker
kyabram, Australia   AUS
I have not experienced freeway traffic as in some parts of USA.
There is no way that I would drive a TR2 on a daily basis in such circumstances....too dangerous.

TR3driver Randall Y
Confusion, Los Angeles, USA   USA
It does get gnarly around here, especially at rush hour. This is the freeway I used to drive to work (although the actual photo is a few miles east of me and I worked to the west). Fairly typical rush hour, IMO.





Randall
56 TR3 TS13571L Once and future daily driver
71 Stag LE1473L awaiting engine rebuild
7? Stag awaiting gearbox rebuild

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