1962 Triumph TR4 Restoration

Brian Sanborn, Groton, MA

Finish Up and Back on the Road

Alive Again on a Nice Day
in Early Spring of '99

The next part of the project was to finish out the interior. My plan was to get away with minimum expense here and to do a proper interior redo the following year.

The TR4A style seats in my car were useable and I planned to use them. But, as a long term goal, I wanted to get a set of the original early TR4 seats that have the more traditional TR3A type design. With the help of a friend on the Triumph Mailing List, I found a set of original seats earlier than I expected.

They came from a salvage yard in the Midwest and were very dirty from being out in the weather somewhere in their life. The metal seat pans and springs were rusty on the inside and the they had a good dose of that old damp upholstery smell. But I was happy to have them because they are rare and hard to find. The early TR4 seat rails that go with them were an other difficult treasure hunt. I found them a little while later from another Triumph list member.

My only goal for the seats was to acquire them in any condition just as candidates for refurbishing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that after hours of soap and water cleaning... the seats didn't look that bad at all. I let them dry out and re-cleaned the leatherette material vigorously with vinyl cleaner and a finger brush. In short order I had a set of useable seats that could be installed for the 1999 season in lieu of the TR4A seats that came with the car.

My old rugs were only fit for the garbage can. I needed a short-term cheap solution until the Winter '99 season. I had read in Piggott's book that the first years of TR4 production came with a charcoal gray nylon pile carpet. Most every TR4's carpets have been replaced with the available black kits by now. Again, based on info from members of the Triumph List, I found a list member in Tennessee that was making up carpet kits in the correct charcoal gray color and for only $149. I had to have something, so I took a gamble.

The carpet set from Southeastern Fabrics was a nice fit and looked very close to what I remembered from my original car. I had to do some custom fitting... But the carpets really came out looking good.

In addition to the regular fiber carpet underlayment, I added a layer of that bubble pack material with aluminum foil on both sides. The goal was to cut down on the noise and the heat transfer from the engine into the cockpit in summer. I had to find the dot fasteners myself and custom fit the shift boot hole. Southeastern had not yet completed their TR4 pattern so the TR4A set they sent me had no hole cut out in the piece that covers the end of the gearbox tunnel and fits over the gearshift knob. I made a brown paper template and then cut the hole to fit exactly. A local auto trim shop sewed on the dark gray trim for me.

The final task to have a finished car was to fit out the rest of the interior pieces. The hood sticks were painted flat black which was not the original color. They got cleaned up and given a coat of beige semi-gloss paint. Another list member loaned me some missing pieces of trim that covers the hood sticks when they are down and stowed. They were used and worn from a parts car and fit right in with my worn interior trim. Here's the car interior on the right with everything in place except the horn push which was giving me some trouble. From 10 feet away the interior didn't look bad at all. I was pleased because we were taking the car to the VTR convention in Portland, ME and wanted to have a presentable car.

This is a picture of the car, finished just in time for the first car show of the season. The show is run by British Cars of New Hampshire. Since I live close to the northern MA border, the trip to the show was a beautiful 40 minute drive on country roads in late June. The car took third place in the TR2-250 class participants choice. Not too shabby. The first place went to an immaculate black TR4 and second place to an equally perfect TR250. I went home a very happy and satisfied man that day.

Reborn and Look'in Good