Thursday, July 21, 2011

I’ll Take Mine Rare, Please

I have been frequenting Cars and Coffee on Saturdays in Irvine, CA for a few months now. I bring my car, others do the same, and you wind up with a decent mix of cars to look at and people to talk to. Some people look at my car and wind up talking to me. “My dad owned a car just like this”, “My first car was a Triumph”, or “I’ve always wanted one of those” are at the top of the list. These little British sportscars are quite memorable and I think it’s great that mine evokes so many memories from the crowd.

Occasionally, an enthusiast steps up and talks more about the car than his recollections of yesteryore. “Are those Webers?”, “Did you do the work yourself?”, and “Is that a 4 or a 4A?” are some of the forerunners. Conversations with these dudes regularly turn into Triumph lineage discussions and eventually get to
something like, “I bet you wish this was a TR250 - you never see those around.”

If you run around with any semblance of a Triumph crowd long enough, you will invariably hear about the rare and mysterious TR250. At the most basic level, the TR250 has the body of a TR4A with the drivetrain of a TR6 and served as the segue between the two models (at least in The States). Only produced for one ‘model year’ and thought to only have been built for one calendar year (1968), most
people don’t know that there were some made in 1967. But, alas, this post is not meant to retell the history of Triumph nor list the particular specifications of their cars - I’ll leave you to your own devices to conduct further research on the subject.

I introduced the TR250 purely because of its perceived uncommonness to establish that even the ‘more common’ 1968 250s are generally considered to be rare cars. And, from that, I have come to realize that my 1967 Triumph TR4A is a rare car as well. In fact…[whispering:] even more rare. That’s right, folks! My angle is a numbers game here. And numbers don’t lie.

I was recently perusing the pages of Bill Piggott’s Original Triumph TR4/4A/5/6: The Restorer's Guide and a table identifying Triumph’s productions numbers per year caught my attention:

3,600 TR4As were produced in 1967. Huh. And over 6,000 TR250s in ’68!? That’s news to me. Here I was thinking I have some common car that I’m supposed to wishfully think is something rare? Baloney! Where were these figures before? How could this conspiracy have gone unchecked for so many years? Who is Keyser Soze? The list of questions grew. I needed to set the record straight on this extraordinary loophole in perception and… and do what?

Should I let the reminiscent know about this the next time they recount days gone at Cars and Coffee?

Or start a campaign to seek out TR250 owners and ask them if they wish their cars were 1967 TR4As?

Or write Keith Martin himself at Sports Car Market Magazine and demand he raise the ‘Collectability Rating’ of the ’67 TR4A from whatever it is now to an “A”?

All of the above?

Nah. I’d rather enjoy my news quietly, undefiantly, and respectfully. I think I’ll write a blog about it…

Postscript: The TR250 is actually an interesting car and none were harmed during the production of this blog. Rumor has it that the TR6s were scheduled to begin production but the German-styled Karmann chassis was in metric, opposed to the standard English-styled tooling and assembly plant. This created a delay and the TR250 was born out of creative necessity rather than careful planning.

We’ll continue with the restoration process shortly…Stay Tuned.