The Triumph TR2 was a triumph of willpower and vision.Launched in 1953, as the forerunner of the highly successful series of TR sports cars ,the 2 was the brainchild of Sir John Black,legendary head of the Standard Motor Company who had acquired Triumph less than ten years previously.
If it hadn't been for the TR series - and most notably, the TR2 that started it all off, Triumph as a marque might well have died out./p> /p> Instead TRs went on to greatly enhance the fortunes and reputation of Standard-Triumph.
Sir John Black was known to recall that in the years before the war Standard supplied engines to the fledgeling Jaguar Company, during which time Black formed a great admiration for the company and their fine sports cars.
His first efforts, the Triumph 1800 and Triumph 2000 sport tourers, were in the mould of classic British sports cars, but were deemed stylistically outmoded almost as soon as they were launched.
To help iron out some of the company’s fundamental flaws, Triumph called on the services Ken Richardson, formerly involved with the BRM Grand Prix project, to join the company to help develop an open top sports car for the Fifties.
The fruit of Richardson's efforts,known initially as the 20TS, was unveiled at the 1952 London Motor Show.
By the end of 1952, the 20TS had most of its glitches sorted out, especially in its chassis. Triumph, ever in search of press approval, decided that the changes made were enough to warrant a relaunch, which came at the 1953 Geneva Motor Show.
As well as the new look and the new underpinnings, the power of the 2-litre (121 Cu in) engine had also been upped to 67kW (90bhp).
The revamped TR2 was more warmly received than the original prototype but still was severely in need of proving itself.
The car was put through its final paces during the summer of 1953, with the ultimate test being a high speed run on the tricky Jabbeke motorway in Belgium, with Ken Richardson himself driving the car.
It went on to prove itself during the most testing races on the circuit, including Le Mans in France , the Mille Miglia in Italy and final icing on the cake, running out as winners on British soil at the 1954 RAC Rally.
Despite all those pluses, the TR2 was never a strong seller.
Despite displaying performance superiority over its nearest rival, the MG/TF, early versions suffered from a number of teething problems. particularly with brake performance and noise levels.
Initially slow to catch on in the United States , even after the introduction of a hardtop option in 1954, making the TR2 a nicer car to drive in bad weather.
With sales slacking, Triumph embarked on a policy of continuous improvement, which eventually led to the release of the visually similar but considerably improved TR3 introduced by Triumph late in 1955.
During its three-year production run Triumph sold just 8,628 TR2s, although its effect on the company's long term history and commercial success would be much more difficult to appraise.