ROAD TESTING THE TRIUMPH TR4 1962
BY JOHN B. BALL – ILLUSTRATED BRISTOL NEWS.
The TR4, THE LATEST ADDITION to the Triumph TR breed, was announced just before the last Earls Court Motor Show. At this time its new line and much changed specilication created quite a stir with sports car enthusiasts. This, however, when the car becomes generally available on the home market, should not be strictly correct, for the manufacturers have now attempted to retain the performance that the TR2s and 3s have had, yet make the car a little more docile for general handling which, of course, should widen tremendously the potential market for this vehicle.
On the road, the TR4, performance wise, is excellent, and one can find very few adverse criticisms. It is a tremendous improvement on its predecessors, and the following performance figures should go a long way towards endorsing this. The top speed reached on the test was 110 m.p.h. At this speed, the car must be said to be extremely stable for its weight, and the only awareness of the speed is possibly from the rather excessive engine noise: but then, who wants a quiet sports car ?
Acceleration-wise, the TR4 can have few rivals in its price range. A standing start to 60 m.p.h., on the test showed a figure of 8.1 seconds, and whilst we are doing all this, let us not lose sight of the petrol consumption, which can be grouped in the 28—30 m.p.g. region.
On corners, the new Triumph is good, but not excellent. A certain degree of technique must be developed when cornering really fast, and to a large extent racing type cornering techniques need to be applied. Let me hasten to add,how ever, that there is no criticism here of the car’s suspension, but merely the making of a point that the driver must be fully accustomed to the car before ‘pushing it hard’. This is possibly largely due to the extraordinarily light rack and pinion steering that Standard Triumph have developed for this car.
When one speaks of speeds of up to 110 m.p.h., one’s next thought should be, of course, how to stop. On the TR4, the fitting of Girling Hydraulic disc brakes to the front, with conventional shoes at the rear, seems to be the ideal answer.
Whilst presenting design bouquets, I would like to extend my appreciation to the delightful 4 speed gearbox. To my mind, the short shift gear lever is ideally placed, and should be a joy to handle to all types of motorist. I am afraid I cannot say similarly nice things about the placing of the handbrake. I think it would have been extremely difficult to have found a more inaccessible place to put it! For the long-legged driver, there is already a shortage of room around his feet, and to restrict this even further by placing the handbrake by his left knee is, to my mind, completely unnecessary.
Still being critical, I could only really find one more fault, but this, I think, is a big one. Never before have I been bothered by the problem of what to do with my left foot in a motor car! In the Triumph, one seems to have the option of driving with one’s foot perpetually placed on the clutch, lifting it at least 4' on to a rather badly placed dipswitch, or bringing it even further forward on to a small platform that I can only imagine was put there for that purpose; but all I can say is that if this is the case one has got to be an extremely short-legged driver, or a particularly uncomfortably placed long-legged type!
The exterior design of the new TR4 is possibly more functional and workmanlike than elegant. The most pleasing part about its design must be its front end, where the cowl set headlights are nicely set off by a slope back type grille.
The TR4 is available in two versions— the conventional soft top and a rather revolutionary hard top, which allows for the centre portion of the roof to be unbolted and lifted clear. This was the model in which the road test was conducted, and although I think it is a great novelty to have this facility, I feel it is a little bit inclined to be neither one thing nor the other, and it will certainly not suit the pure sports car enthusiast.
Coming back into the car, I must pay tribute to the standard of upholstery and trim finish. Here again it is a tremendous improvement, not only on the previous TR models, but on sports cars as a whole, must put the car in the semi-luxury class.
To sum up the TR4, it is a particularly delightful car to drive. It does virtually everything it is likely to be asked of on the road, and is well finished. To my mind, had a little more thought been given to some of the points already criticised, it could well have been an all-time ‘great’ in the sports car class, but make no mistake about it, it is an extremely fine sports car, and is going to win a tremendous export following and be seen ever increasingly on English roads.
Specification Engine: 2.2 Litre
Body: Length 13’ Width 4’ 9'
Price. Soft Top: £1,094.19.9 (inc. tax)
Hard Top: £1,146.0.7. (inc. tax)