In 1953, the Standard Motor Company, purveyors of the Triumph brand at the time released their latest two-door two-seater roadster. Christened the TR2, it was built to replace the ageing Triumph Roadster. Interestingly, the boss of Standard at the time, Sir John Black initially tried to acquire the Morgan Motor Company but it was not to be. Urgently requiring a car to replace the Triumph Roadster, the result was the TR2, built on a shortened Standard Eight chassis.
The 2.0L four-cylinder wet-liner Standard engine was lifted from the Vanguard and delicately transplanted into the nose of this svelte Roadster. Installing twin SU (Skinners Union) carburettors helped boost the output to 90hp, enabling the 3.8 meter long TR2 to reach the benchmark 60mph in a whisker under 12 seconds, and top out at 107mph.
Whilst these figures may seem pedestrian in 2022, remember that this was 1953, and considered to be very quick, in an era when a 30-second zero-to-sixty time on a contemporary automobile was not uncommon. The rear axle was of the live axle variety, the gearbox was a four-speed manual unit, and Lockheed drum brakes on all wheels provided the stopping power.
In fact, the TR2 was known as the lowest-priced British car able to exceed 100mph at the time, which must have no doubt been hair raising in this low roadster with its short doors. This beautiful example is owned by collector par excellence Kapila Jayawardena who added it to his collection in January 2022.
This 1954 Triumph TR2 licensed EL 8635 has an interesting history which Kapila has enthusiastically traced for us. It was imported brand-new to our shores by a foreigner and used until 1965, when Malin Gunathileka purchased the car and used it for two years, before selling it on to Sidantha Dedigama. Another twelve years passed before the car changed hands to Bentley Jayasekara in 1979, where it would stay for eighteen years before moving on to Jay Wanigasekara in 1997.
The car remained in the Wanigasekara family for two decades, being used by Jay and his son Riley Wanigasekara until 2017, when it was purchased by Shamilal Wairasinghe. 2018 would see EL 8635 receive a magnificient restoration courtesy maestro Clive De Silva, before Kapila became its latest custodian in January 2022.
Accompanying Kapila in the passenger seat to a nearby destination for some rolling shots, it’s apparent that EL 8635 has not lost any of the verve of being a rorty British roadster despite being 68 years of age! As is par for the course with Kapila’s cars, all gauges work and I see the speedo touch 50mph with relative ease and fairly quickly too, accompanied by the rorty growl of the carburetted four-cylinder. This is what a ride in a British roadster is like, wind in your hair, engine roaring away and the world just slipping by.
Ever knowledgeable Kapila enlightens me with another piece of trivia, namely that whilst 8,636 TR2s were produced, only 4,000 were produced in ‘long door’ form, of which EL 8625 belongs. The long door soon gave way to a shorter door which was designed to avoid slamming the door into the kerb, an occurrence that is scarily easy, given the low-slung nature of the car. That factor, together with the relative rarity of the model as a whole, and the stunning originality of this car make it extremely desirable and a gem amongst Sri Lanka’s surprisingly diverse array of classic and vintage cars.