This is a very original, low-mileage TR4 from late 1962. These Michelotti designed cars have been on my wish-list for 30 years since owning several Triumph Heralds (also Michelotti designed) in my younger years.
This car was originally purchased in England by a New Zealander, a Mr R. Northcote, and was used there for some touring before he brought the car back to New Zealand early in 1963. It is an original Right Hand Drive 'Home' model, of which only 964 were produced in 1962, with 14,309 LHD being produced for export and 660 CKD (completely knocked down) kits for assembly in other countries. Original RHD examples are very rare now, and many of the much more plentiful LHD models are now being converted to RHD to satisfy the market.
Mr Northcote covered 95000 carefully documented miles in the TR4 up until 14th August 1984, when the car was purchased by its long-term New Zealand mechanic, who had long before asked Mr Northcote that should the car ever be sold, he be given first option. The car at that stage was given a retrim and repaint by highly-regarded New Zealand businesses, and the car won a Triumph concourse in 1989.
Paint in the original British Racing Green was redone in the 1980s, but overall is still holding up well. Some minor imperfections will be rectified eventually, but panels are gunbarrel straight and rust-free. After extensive underbody cleaning, all chassis and hollow body sections were treated to copious quantities of fishoil sprayed into them by specially-made remote jets which could utilise existing orifices.
Exactly 31 years and 3 months after the car passed from its original to its second owner, on 14th November 2015, I became the third owner. The car had only travelled 15000 miles with its second owner, from 95000 to just over 110000 when I purchased it.
At the time of writing this article, with the car ready for registration again, the mileage is at 114828 (see odometer photo in detail photographs below)
Commission number CT17978 places the car's production date late in 1962. Previous owners have thought of the car as a 1963, but the first 1963 TR4 was commission number CT18605, and this car has always been finished in the original dark British Racing Green, which was deleted as an option in January 1963, at commission number CT19518. (From January 1963 the green option was changed to Triumph Racing Green, also called Conifer Green, which is a different colour). The original Lucas 25D distributor has a production stamp of 9th week 1962.
Interior trim is in Red with white piping. (Black, the only other trim option available with British Racing Green, was much more common).
An interesting feature of the car is the TR3 style front seats (probably requested as an option by the original owner) which have been present since new despite these seats being officially superseded on the TR4 slightly earlier in 1962 at body number 15076CT - this car has body 17590CT.
Options fitted from new include 60-spoke painted wire wheels, twin sun visors, the rare crank handle option, tonneau cover, heater, tool roll and windscreen washers.
Also within a short time after purchase (all recorded in the amazing documented history that came with the car), Mr Northcote changed the standard 'sprung' steering wheel for a woodrim wheel, shown on the documentation as a 'Les Leston' wheel. The original, mint-condition steering wheel has been wrapped in rags ever since, and kept with the car, along with many other genuine spares and a factory workshop manual.
It was my intention to reinstate the original steering wheel, until I removed the 'Les Leston' woodrim wheel and discovered it was a genuine 'Springall'. These pre-dated the famous and sought-after Springalex, and made by Peter Springall himself (see left at his Hornsey workshop inspecting a just-made Gordon Keeble wheel in 1960) before Springalex came into existence - a joint venture between Springall the wheel manufacturers & Alexander the marketing company.
In the early to mid '60s Springall steering wheels were used by such greats as John Surtees, Jack Brabham, Dan Gurney, Alan Mann and others, plus the European Championship Cooper S and Ford's Rally team. They were also original equipment on Lotus Cortinas, Elans and Elites. Jim Clark also won his second World Championship and at Indianopolis in 1965...all with a Springall wheel as his steering wheel of choice.
So, the Springall wheel received a very light and sympathetic restoration and was refitted, while the lovely, mint, original steering wheel remains carefully stored!
A very interesting link regarding Les Leston and Springall/Springalex (and other period steering wheels) can be seen here.
Enjoy the following detail photographs of this very original and much-loved Triumph TR4! The only modifications (all easily reversable) are a spin-on oil filter conversion, an extractor exhaust manifold (wrapped for lower under-bonnet temperatures) and electronic ignition replacing the points, a standard modification I do to all my classic cars to lessen maintenance and maximise reliability and uniformity of ignition timing.
114,828 original, documented miles in 53
Keen-eyed observers will notice the spin-on oil filter conversion and tell-tale 2-wire low-tension connection between the coil and distributor due to the replacement of the points with electronic ignition switching, both for reliability and ease of maintenance.
Wrapped 4-2-1 exhaust extractor system can be seen here with the very clean, rust-free all-original underside of the car.
Looking up under the hoist - first the front half...
...then the rear. Very evident in this photo is the stainless steel muffler fabricated to exactly replicate the factory original when it eventually failed. The original was cut open, and the internals copied exactly. Many thanks to the previous owner for this dedication to getting it right! (Sounds bloody nice too!)
Dunlop SP Radials (a factory option) were again fitted when the originals wore out 30 years ago.
These 30-year-old New-Zealand made Dunlops have barely any tread wear in their under 20,000 miles, but very fine sidewall cracking and a desire to preserve these rare tyres for posterity will see them replaced by new tyres in the correct 165 width soon.
The original tool kit (most tools not visible in their respective pouches!), jack and soft-faced wheel removal hammer in the spare wheel compartment.
The original workshop manual with many annotations by the original owner.
In the glovebox are the original Owner's Handbook in its oiled paper envelope with an original (now superfluous!) set of spare points.
Seat belts (made and fitted in New Zealand, and Stanpart approved of course!) are still fitted.
The roof frame is original and unrestored. This is a recent new roof, but the original roof and optional tonneau cover are still with the car and in amazingly good condition.
Roof down and a twisting road...bliss!
Huge thanks must be expressed to Heath O'Brien at O'Brien A.M.S. in Kerang, a small but extraordinary machine shop that I entrust all my tricky work to, and who did some beautiful final machining on the cylinder head after I installed new valve guides and before I installed all new valves. Equally huge thanks go to Ollie at Bendigo Electroplating who rechromed the original front bumper, overriders and crank handle bracket absolutely perfectly with his full copper/nickel/chrome process. Ted Schumacher at TS Imported Automotive in Pandora, Ohio, USA provided the chromemoly pushrods, and is a pretty cool dude - check out his website regarding his 30 years in the British car business, including racing Triumphs. The plethora of other parts used came from various small sellers, as well as the very professional services of Rimmer Bros in the UK.
click here to see the other shed inhabitants
Fellow enthusiasts are welcome to drop me an email.