Member (FOG 13)

A Continuing 1957* TR3A Restoration and Maintenance Story: 1998-2024

* Car is registered as a 1958, but was built in 1957




How The Story Begins

When I reached my middle 50's and was a few years away from retirement as a Biology Professor at Lock Haven University, I decided I needed a new hobby. Since I was also now approaching my second childhood, I suddenly had fond memories of driving one of the two TR3's I owned as a youth.

1967 Picture of me "Race Ready" in one of my two previous TR3's both of which are now probably somewhere in the Triumph Great Beyond

Like many memories of the past, the good old days conjured up the thrill of flying down a highway inches from the road and performing marvelous "toe to heel" footwork as I did four wheel drifts around the "S" curves on the cow path roads of WV.. I put out of my mind the uncomfortable spine jaring washboard ride, the cumbersome cussable sidecurtain windows, getting wet even with the top up and sidecurtains on, and freezing in the winter. I just knew I had to have another Triumph! Unfortunately I should have been satisfied with fond memories since my Triumph "hobby" started off as one of my worst nightmares.

I don't expect many people would admit to being a sucker or to admit spending the amount of money necessary to make a very bad investment right...I decided to do so to hopefully prevent others from making my mistake and also to help others understand what a complete restoration will cost.......

My Resoration Nightmare Began With:


I spotted a listing in a local Car Buyer magazine for a 1958 TR3 that was advertised as having extensive restoration work. I drove to the Foreign Car dealer service in Middletown and looked at the car. I asked the owner and his assistant if the car had any body damage and Bondo (Body Putty). They both answered "No" the several times I asked this question and further replied that the car needed only "cosmetic work". The price was pretty steep (I am embarrased to admit how much), but he showed me a long list of things he said he had done to the car. I said OK since a reputable sports car dealer mechanic would not lie about such things..............

Oh how wrong and how Ripped Off was I.. When I started stripping the body for its "cosmetic work", I was stunned and sickened by what I found. To say it as nicely as possible, "The car was a piece of Crap"! Not only was there body putty everywhere and MAJOR rust damage in EVERY body part, but it was evident the car had been wrecked and the front end was out of alignment.. In the restoration, we even found that the body was not bolted to the frame but had actually been welded to the frame! We also did not find much of any evidence of the long list of things the dealer reportedly had done to this car.

When I confronted the dealer with some of this evidence (it got worse later), he said he knew nothing about the body problems. Considering how he suckered me in the first place, he must really have thought I was dumb enough to accept his reply........ How could a sports car mechanic who did "extensive work" on a car, not know the condition of that car.. He added insult to injury by offering to SELL ME replacement parts. The moral to my story certainly is "Caveat Emptor" or Buyer Beware and try to get statements in writing about condition of a older car suitable for restoration.

For anyone considering a car project, I would recommned dealing only with people you know. The best bet is to join a car club and take the advice of members who have already seen it all..I did not join a car club until after the fact. In talking to members of my club, I have no doubt this car when completed, should receive a prize for the worst starting project car in the history of Western PA Triumph Association.... and probably the most expensive. In hind site, I would have acutally saved money by using this car as an expensive parts car and buying another in better condition for the restoration.

In Dec 2007, I learned that my car is acutally a 1957 and not a 1958 even though it is registered as one. I purchased a "British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Certified Copy of Factory Record" and found the car was built on 11 Oct 1957 but was probably not sold until 1958 when it was "registered" with Department of Motor Vehicles. The car was originally black, came with whitewall tires and an ocassional rear seat that was removed sometime before my purchase.

As a 1957 this makes my car an early wide mouth and a bit more rare than a 1958 model.

Restoration Beginning: Disassembly and Revealed Damage 1998-2002

Click on thumbnail description to see enlarged photo of Stripped Car


*I have John Taylor of Lock Haven to thank for two better doors he gave me during the restoration. My original doors wood frame was in very bad condition. John discovered my renovation when he visited my body mechanic (Bunny Dersham) to have his original Mini Cooper Woody painted. John had two doors he had purchased at a previous time and donated to my project.

Frame Off Restoration in 2002-2005



Engine and Body Assembly 2005




Interior and Trim 2006


*False Color in previous pic because of lighting. Vinyl and carpet are actualy same color.


Completed Car June 16th 2006


"Cosmetic" Parts Purchased For Car

The following is an incomplete list of purchased items necessary to complete the Foreign Car dealer's "Cometic Work" and in additional maintenance. Items are not listed in any particular order and I have probably forgotten a few. Most of the parts were purchased from the Roadster Factory. Some additional recent items were purchased from Moss Motors. Most of the Cost Prices are from early 2000 time frame.

Door Skin
Heater Hose
$ 10.00
Wing Bead Kit
$ 52.50
Vent Lid Seal
$ 11.50
Bonnet Hinge Kit
$ 27.25
Door Check Strap
$ 16.00
Stoneguard Set
$ 44.00
LH/RH Panel End Stiffener
$ 60.00
Boot lid hinge kit
$ 27.25
Idler Lever and Bracket Assy
$ 68.75
Bonnet Fastener Kit
$ 22.00
Sealer Plate Kit
$ 23.00
Pipe to Water Pump
$ 14.50
Hardware Kit
$ 12.75
Hose Water Heater to Dash
$ 16.00
Door Seal Kit
$ 75.00
LH/RH Front Wing Repair Panels
Locking Handle Kit
$ 64.00
Hardware Kit Wing
$ 12.75
Body Mounting Kit
$ 69.95
Misc. Hardware
LH/RH Quarter panel
Wing Bead Kit
$ 52.50
LH/RH Outer Sills
$ 30.00
Rear Apron
Wiring Harness
LH/RH Inner Sills
LH/RH Floor Assy
Seat Slide Kit
$ 84.95
LH/RH Original Front Fenders
Original Trunk lid
$ 50.00
Engine Rebuild + Carbs *
Front Grill
Engine Mounting Kit $30.00 Brake Pipes & Hoses $112.00
Front Bumper + Overriders
$330.00 Monza Exhaust + Downpipe $200.00
Peg Set body $40.00 Head Light Replacement Kit 2 $280.00
Body Gaskets, Plugs, Seals, Covers, Misc Hardware $345.00 Fan Belt $16.00
Rear Oil Seal $8.00 Speed and Tach Cables
Repair Transmission Bell-Weld $43.60 Repair Gas Tank
Recore Radiator $371.00
Windscreen Rechrome
Water Pump
Choke Cable
Carpet + Accessories
Interior Trim Panels
Capping & Dash Recover
Glove Box
Two replacment cappings
Seat Springs
Seat Recover Kit
Recovering Labor
Carb Heat Shield
60 Spoke Wheels + Adaptors
165 x 15 Coker Whitewalls 4
Interior Mats $25.00
Dash Mirror
Front Bonnet TR3 Badge
Seat Belts
Tonneau Cover
Boot Cover
Convertible Top
Side Curtain Rebuilt est $1,300 Rebuilt Original Water Pump $200.00
Rebuilt Lucas Generator (2010) $95.00 Solid State Voltage Regulator (2010) $85.00
Front End Rebuilt Parts
Rebuilt Transmission With OD (2009) $1,300
Paint and Clear Coat $300.00    
Clutch and Brake Master Cylinders $55.00 Driving Lamps $300.00
Replacement Brake Master Cylinders 2021 $300.00    
Estimated Labor $8,000    

*Engine work done by Ed Woods (FOG 1) Pittsburgh, PA

Original cost of supposedly "Cosmetic only" car which was actually a POS = $6,000

This "COSMETIC PARTS CAR " to date ( 1/24) has cost approximately $36,000+ to restore and update. This amount would be more today as most parts were purchased 20+ years ago. In addition, this amount accounts for items that have been forgotten but will be added if remembered. Future items to be considered include side curtains (about $1,600). Parts for a front end rebuild have been purchased, but job has not been completed.

The only fortunate part of this entire nightmare is having a body mechanic with the expertise of an artist. Bunny Dersham of Jersey Shore, PA has literally transformed Frank's "rust bucket" into a solid car as good or better than new. Bunny is no longer restoring cars, but I can count on him for some special projects.

Since its "launching" in 2006, my car 18 years later (2024), has approximately 10,000 miles of fun driving. The car has not been on long trips as a break down in this area of PA would mean a flat bed truck haul home. There are few if any parts available or antique Britsh car mechanics in my area. I have also had some frustrating times with engine and carburetor problems but with phone and text help of Western PA Triumph Club member Ed Woods, I have been able to adjust and sync carbs.

Wherever I drive this car people shout, point, give me the thumbs up, and ask what it is. Antique British cars are not common place around here. It draws a crowd wherever I park.

A few people have also tried to buy it without even asking what I would want even though it has not for sale.

My car has won awards at every entered local car show besting some Jaguars, Healeys and Corvettes.

There have been some additional problems including the self destruction of a reporduction water pump after only a few hundred miles. I was warned about the poor quality of these reproductions but thought I might beat the odds. Fortunately after searching the Internet, I found a rebuilt original that has been pumping water for over a thousand miles now. I have learned it is best to buy a rebuilt original whenever possible.

I also found there is a problem with the 60 spoked Dayton wire wheels. When they were first installed they were so out of balance that too much weight was required for stickon weights on inside of wheels. Weights had to be added to outside of rims which detracts from appearance of wheels. There are additional problems as in keeping clean, but as a retired Entomologist I am however skeptical of "Wheel Ant" problems. :)



Tim Yoho E-Mail

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