Curbside Classic: 1959 Triumph TR3A: My Favorite ’50’s Sportscar

Ahh….1959…the year in which my Mom and Dad both conceived and brought this longrooffan into the “Year of the Fin.”

I arrived home from St. John’s Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri in my Mother’s lap while riding in an off white two door 1958 Chevy Belair hardtop. And not a seat belt nor a car seat in sight! Being the seventh child (of ultimately 10), this was not an unusual experience for my folks!

Incidentally, sharing my birth year were fellow Curbdweller jpcavanaugh (welcome aboard!), Barbie, Food Stamps, The Coppertone Girl, and Coors gave birth to the aluminum can. And a little known fact, Ford beat Chrysler in a court battle for the use of the Falcon nameplate!

But I am certain my Curbdwelling friends don’t really want to take a stroll down memory lane with this olelongrooffan. Let’s talk about some really cool stuff. Like Cars. From 1959. “The Year of the Fin.”

Yes, the “Year of the Fin.” In my opinion, 1959 represented the ultimate in design excess, especially when it came to the rear end of General Motors offerings. But I still like them. Alot.

A couple of extreme representatives of this styling were the 59 Impala, with its huge picnic table like horizontal fins as shown above. It is interesting, the 57 Chevy’s had huge vertical fins, the 58 I rode home in sported angular fins leading to the 59’s huge horizontal ones. Transistional styling direction by GM back in the day seemed to be the case.

And I don’t know about you but I think Paul’s most recent CC Clue has to be somewhere on that 59 Impala. I just can’t find it.

And these even larger vertical fins offered by Cadillac that model year. This was the most extreme fin offered on a production car (the Rocket Cars weren’t production) to date and lasted only one model year. But a hell of a lot of them were built and are still around. Just look at the shadow cast by that driver’s side fin on the trunk as captured in the last afternoon sun down here in the Sunshine State a year or so ago!

But, as the headline suggests, this is not about fins or, for that matter, something even constructed here in the United States for that model year. No, this is about my favorite ’50’s era sports car, the Triumph TR3A.

All jokes about Lucas Electrics, jars of smoke and oil leaks aside, these cars represented a break through in the offering of modern British sports cars in the United States.

There were several remarkable items included in 1957 redesign of the Triumph TR including the wind deflectors on the windscreen,

As well as secondary set screws to hold the bonnet in place. Yeah, one of these on each side of the hood to provide a backup to the standard latch.

This one possesses the optional luggage rack on the rear deck. I always wanted to get one of these cool items for the deck of my E30 convertible. And see that removable panel to which the license plate is attached? Stay tuned for more on that.

Last year while I was out and about I spotted this white one at a show down in Cocoa Beach. It, unlike the red one I saw a couple weeks ago, possesses steel wheels as opposed to the optional wire wheels on the red one.

Under its hood there were twin SU carburetors attached to that 1991 cc (2.0L) product of the, what was at that time still independent, Triumph Motor Company in Coventry, England.

This one also contained the optional rear seat although it is suitable for a couple bags of groceries and maybe a small pet.

And remember that panel I pointed out earlier? Behind it is the spare tire. Between it and the petrol tank, there is probably not a whole lot of trunk room in this little sweetie.

About 15 years ago, my Dad sent me a thick scrapbook of old car ads, old car stories and other miscellaneous old car print material. One of the items contained within that scrapbook is a copy of an article titled “Stars and Their Cars.” Included in that article was this image of Anne Francis, of Hollywood fame, posed on the bonnet of her Triumph, although this one is an earlier TR model as is evidenced by the “small” grill on its nose.

And in a final somewhat related note, the above photo is of a good friend posed on the front of his 1958 Morris Garages MGA, a direct competitor to the Triumph TR3A, back in the day. This was his first car and to this day he laments ever selling it! Sound familiar? Also, just check out all those CC’s just down the street!

(digital images by longrooffan, photos courtesy Robert G. Lee, TomK)