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ROAD TEST – 1968 TRIUMPH TR5

Posted by wp-admin on 17th February 2017


Both the Healey and the TR started life as rather simpler cars, both being powered by four-cylinder engines taken from mundane saloon cars and both built on a simple separate chassis. Just as the Healey moved further upmarket with its new six-pot powerplant – BMC wanting to distance it from its own MGA – the Triumph also evolved significantly.

First came the TR3, which was effectively a more polished version of the rather primitive TR2, followed by the Michelotti-styled TR4, which introduced proper doors and windows for an altogether more refined experience. The first change to the original chassis came with the introduction of the independent rear suspension for the TR4A in 1965, but the old Standard four-cylinder powerplant had been developed as far as it could go, meaning the ‘Big Healey’ was pulling away. The solution was to install the six-cylinder engine from the Vanguard Six and Vitesse, stroked to 2.5 litres and running on Lucas injection – at least for European markets (emissions requirements meant the US cars still ran on carbs).


This transformed the TR and the result was a genuinely quick car, the combination of independent rear suspsension and an injected 150bhp six-cylinder making it easier to drive and faster than many of its competitors – the Healey included. The Michelotti body was a thoroughly modern shape and the interior was more ’Sixties than ’Fifties, making it a confortable place to be.

The later TR6 was essentially the TR5 with the Michelotti bodywork topped and tailed by Karmann and there are many out there who prefer the more delicate style of the earlier car – which of course is all but identical under the skin.

This explains why values of the TR5 have climbed solidly over recent years, the model now generally commanding a much steeper price tag than the TR6. It’s not uncommon to see cars advertised at well over £40,000 but the example here slips in just under that barrier and is a simply lovely example.

Restored some 10 years ago by a TR specialist, the work was clearly done properly and the TR is that perfect combination of pristine paintwork that doesn’t scream that it’s been freshly restored. In fact you could mistake it at first glance for a very well preserved original car. The work included a few subtle upgrades like an unleaded cylinder head ,which improves the car’s practicality and the Valencia Blue with chromed wires looked wonderful even in the pre-Christmas gloom.


ON THE ROAD
The TR5 hadn’t been started for a while when we visited but it’s very much on the button and fired crisply from stone cold without clouds of black smoke and settled to a steady idle, indicating that the Lucas injection has been properly set-up.

It’s obvious from details like the way the doors click gently shut and the neatly routed injection pipework under the bonnet that a lot of care has gone into making this TR5 drive, look and feel just right. We didn’t get a chance to drive it too far but it certainly feels very tight and compared to the Healey it’s in a different league, feeling much more modern, from the driving position to the handling. As with so many Triumphs there’s a stainless sports exhaust fitted that sounds great and was easily the equal of the Healey’s soundtrack.


VERDICT
You’ll see TR5s advertised for well over £40,000 but to be blunt it’s hard to see how they could be any better than this one. The car is superbly presented and really didn’t look out of place next to the gaggle of similarly smart E-types in the showroom at CMS. Values of these earlier TRs seem to be firm too, meaning it’s a sound investment as well as being one of the best-driving ’Sixties sports cars.

Special thanks go to Michael Whitestone who took the superb photos of this particualr Triumph TR5.

TECH SPEC
ENGINE:               2498cc
POWER:                150bhp
TOP SPEED:         120mph
0-60MPH:               8.8 secs
ECONOMY:          30mpg
GEARBOX:           4-sp man plus o/d