In the 1950s, the British motor industry developed a number of world-leading small sports cars.  The Triumph TR2 was at the forefront, launching in 1953 as a compact, quick sports car capable of high speeds and yet still affordable for most motoring enthusiasts.

After going into receivership in 1939, Triumph was resurrected when purchased by the Standard Motor Company in 1945.  The first ‘Triumph’ sports car, the 20TS or TR1 (Triumph Roadster 1), was launched at the 1952 London Motor Show, but was hampered by a number of issues including the performance, handling and size.

Later that year, Sir John Black of Standard turned to Ken Richardson, a British racing and test and development driver who competed in one Formula One World Championship race.  Richardson was an engineer for British Racing Motors (BRM).  After he was quoted as saying this is ‘the most awful car I’ve ever driven in my life; it’s a death-trap’, Richardson helped evolve the 20TS into the TR2.

The Triumph TR2 Roadster

The new two-seated TR2 roadster had a 1,991cc engine with 4 in-line cylinders.  The acceleration was 0-60mph in 12 seconds.  Also, the TR2 was the first British production car to have disc brakes as standard.

In May 1953, Richardson took the new TR2 onto the Jabbeke motorway in Belgium and reached a speed of almost 125 miles per hour.  This was a record speed for a volume production car with a 2000 cc capacity.  This meant that the TR2 was as fast as the rival Austin Healey and also cheaper to purchase.  Also, the TR2 was also more economical to run, with an average 32 mpg petrol consumption (6,9 litre per 100 km).

Only one of the original three TR2 prototypes survived and this was acquired by the British Motor Museum for £280,000 in 2020, with £250,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF).

The TR2 was officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1953 and was a major success, especially in North America.  The original price was around £800.

Racing Pedigree

The TR2’s reliability, speed and handling made the car ideal for racing.  The TR2 featured in rallies including the Mille Miglia in Italy, the Alpine in France, and the Tourist Trophy race in Northern Ireland, winning both team and individual prizes.  The Triumph TR2 even featured at Le Mans in 1955, finishing 15th overall.

The TR2 started the Triumph TR love affair with racing.

TR Evolution

The TR2 was replaced in 1955 by the TR3.  However, the TR2 was the spark that ignited the famous and much-loved TR series of Triumph sports cars that proved so popular during the 1950s and 1960s.

British Jaeger Gauges

The Triumph TR2 dashboard was fitted with British Jaeger gauges.  British Jaeger and SMITHS instrumentation was already featuring in many of the classic sports cars of the era including Austin-Healey and Jaguar.

Triumph TR2 oil pressure gauge
Triumph TR2 oil pressure gauge

The instrument layout had the speedometer and tachometer mounted either side of the steering wheel, with a centrally located array of four gauges that included the Oil Pressure, Fuel Gauge, Temperature gauge, and an Ammeter.

Triumph TR2 gauges continue to be manufactured today by Caerbont Automotive Instruments in Abercrave near Swansea in the UK using the original drawings and are available exclusively through Rimmer Bros, a UK-based classic car parts and accessories specialist.

Gauges for the Triumph TR2

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