Homecoming for 33761
In 1960 a Triumph TR3A sports car saw the light of day in sunny South Africa and its birth plate was and still is Commission Number 33761. I believe that this is one of the cars that was sent to Africa in knock down format towards the end of the TR3 production line and was assembled in East London by Motor Assemblies Ltd.
Its history from then until about 1985 is non existent but I am pretty confident when I say that it must have had a hard life. Someone tackled a rebuild in 1985 but the work done on her was merely cosmetic. Under a new coat of powder blue duco she looked presentable but in fact under her skin she was not a pretty sight. In fact she was more like the “Humpback of Notre Dame”! It was definitely a case of nice from far but far from nice. When I purchased the car from A C Burne In Johannesburg in 2001, it did not break the bank and I always had in mind that when I took my pension, I would do a chassis off restoration and attempt to bring her back to her former glory. From the time I bought the car, I have been on the look out to replace parts that were not standard but really deep down I knew that the only way forward was to start a chassis off restoration.
In September 2011, a situation presented itself, and with the direction of a fellow Triumph enthusiast, Gary Booyens, we started stripping. We went down deep and dirty and got to know the “history” of the car.
We had to replace the inner sills and virtually rebuilt the car from this point, carefully following the TR2/3 workshop manual, information gleaned from various forums and internet sites, as well as invaluable guidance from friends in the Johannesburg centre of the Triumph Sports Car Club of Southern Africa. We also followed Bill Piggott’s book “Collector’s Guide to Originality” to ensure that we did not stray too far from what a TR3A should look like.
It was a two year project and a labour of love. Gary and I virtually spent 7 hours a day, 5 days a week for a year and a half to complete the project. We sourced most of the parts from Rimmer and Moss Brothers in the United Kingdom. The end result has been both pleasing and satisfying and culminated in the car being awarded a Gold medal in the regional concourse staged by the Johannesburg centre of the Triumph Club in August 2013.
With all the above in mind, when my wife and I decided to move to Surrey to join up with our children, there was no way that we would leave the TR3A in South Africa. After a lot of paperwork and overcoming bureaucracy, we eventually reached the stage that we loaded the car on the 18th November 2013 in Johannesburg and waited anxiously until we were able to collect it in Felixstowe on the 27th December 2013.
Commission Number 33761 arrived back in the land of its birth some 53 years later. If only cars could talk, what a tale it would be able to tell!