’61 Triumph TR3

Ours was “red on red”, but the steelies are spot on

This was the car I learned to drive in. It was my father’s pride and joy and, from today’s perspective, I can’t believe he let me drive it. Alone. Wow! But I digress.

The TR3 was not only my driving lesson car, it was the first car I ever turned a wrench on. I learned how to set the valves, time it, fix the SU fuel pump (you Brit car owners will know what I’m talking about), wax it, wash it, and generally learned how to keep a proper car.

This particular ride also had electric overdrive so, in addition to learning the usually gear changing chores, I learned how to split shift—both up and down—as well rev match and heel and toe. Hell, I pretty much learned everything on the Triumph…including how the gas tank can leak when you’re upside down. Yep, flipped it during a rather spirited hill climb…with my parents away to Moro Bay with friends. It was the call that no teenage boy wants to make…”Hey dad, I sort of had a little fender bender in the TR…” Not good.

A Ferguson tractor engine never had it so good

My most memorable moment in the TR actually doesn’t involve me, but my mom. The house we lived in at the time had an “L” shaped driveway where you pulled in then made a left to get in to the garage. A popular, but unsafe, place to park was always headed straight in right at the 90 degree bend. Not long after the TR had come back from repairs following the upside down excursion, I was sitting in the house when my mom came in, made as hell. It appears that she had backed out of the garage and straight into the newly painted Triumph…sending it back to the body shop and me to my room for some mandatory confinement.

It was a great little car and the beginning of what is now a more than 45-year love affair with British iron. Oh sure, I’ve strayed to other brands over the years but have always come back to the basics.