1962 Triumph TR4 Restoration

Brian Sanborn, Groton, MA

Finding a Triumph

Once I decided to actually go looking for a car I found that finding a good candidate was going to be difficult. This is where modern communication and the Internet really make a night and day difference. The number of cars that are available for sale is small and the challenge is for you to actually know about the ones you may want to consider. I used the VTR online classified listing, several national Internet based auto sites (www.traderonline.com was the best also www.classifieds2000.com), local club newsletters, the Sunday Boston Globe newspaper and the local "for sale" rag that you see in most newspaper and convenience stores.

It took me about 6 months to find a car. It was a quest and an education. It is amazing how many rusted out hulks are out there that are advertised as "strong runner" or "daily driver". Based on my first timid questions of the Triumph List and reading more car restoration books, I realized that I had to decide exactly what I was looking for. Was I interested in a complete "frame off" restoration. This involves dismantling the entire car and removing the body from the frame. This type of restoration is very challenging and at the same time rewarding, but takes a major investment in time and money.

The conventional wisdom is that unless you are interested in learning bodywork, you are better off finding a car that has been restored before in its life or has been well cared for by someone from the west or southwest. Cars that have been spared the snow and salt of places like the Northeast US will tend to have little or no rust if they have been cared for at all. Any mechanical problems in a TR4 can be solved and the parts are available from multiple sources. But a car that has badly rusted out body panels and floors will be a major effort to fix yourself or very expensive to have done. From a money point of view, you will never recoup the investment in this bodywork when you sell the car. So consider it a hobby and do it for the enjoyment. But don't fool yourself into thinking you will save big money by buying an inexpensive rusty heap and bringing it back to life. Just the opposite is true. Generally speaking you should buy the best car your project finances can afford. Believe me, there will be many, many things that need doing even on a $14,000 concours beauty.