These days, with enough of a budget, nominally the same set-up can produce in excess of 200bhp.
Thuner and the TR fared well, coming home second in class behind Hans Walter’s Porsche 356 1600 Carrera.
Although outclassed on the loose of the British event, the pale-blue sports cars from Canley did finish and placed second in the Manufacturer’s Team Prize.
It was to be Sprinzel’s final outing in 3 VC: the following month he announced his withdrawal from driving for ‘works’ teams, but he continued to compete as a privateer for many years until 1973.
His replacement at Triumph was rising star Elford, who would contest three rallies in 3 VC with varying degrees of success.
Though not its speciality, 3 VC is at home on the loose
His first outing on the 1963 Tulip Rally was with the car built to its ultimate specification, the last piece of the jigsaw being the limited-slip differential installed in the rear.
“Because this event was always run with regulations of the ‘let’s make it equally difficult for an outstandingly fast car to win’ mould,” recalls Robson, “the TR4s were always likely to struggle.
“However, in an event with many high-speed hillclimbs, they proved to be astonishingly fast, the ‘scratch time’ table showing that Elford’s 3 VC had been third overall, behind the Austin-Healey 3000 of the Morley twins and Henri Greder’s 4.7-litre Ford Falcon Sprint. The official handicap results put 3 VC fourth overall in the GT category.”
With Thuner and new recruit Roy Fidler, the team also won the GT Category Team Prize.
At one point, this ex-works TR was a student’s daily driver
The other two outings for Elford and 3 VC weren’t so successful. On the French Alpine Rally he and navigator David Stone, no doubt confident that they were competitive against the Big Healeys, left the road while chasing the Morley brothers.
Robson arrived on the scene fearing the worst, only to find that the two bodies stretched out on the roadside were merely soaking up the sun.
The car escaped damage and was pressed into service a month later on the Liège-Sofia-Liège with Don Grimshaw at the wheel – again it retired, after falling off its jack in the dark.
Quick Vic’s last outing was in November on the RAC, which was intended to be 3 VC’s final event. “On the second night the engine blew a cylinder-head gasket and would go no further,” says Robson. “This was depressing for me and the entire team because such a failing had never let us down in two hard seasons.”
The TR4’s elegant Giovanni Michelotti lines
With a move to Spifires and 2000s for the 1964 events, the four works TRs were on the verge of being mothballed when the US importer, with the aid of West Coast guru ‘Kas’ Kastner, asked to enter the team in that spring’s Canadian Shell 4000 rally.
Robson takes up the story: “Each of the [three] chosen cars, including 3VC, was completely stripped out, the aluminium-panelled bodyshell retained along with all the special running gear, powertrain, suspension, large fuel tank, electric wiring and cockpit equipment, and built around brand-new rally-specification left-hand-drive chassis frames.
“Before they were then trucked all the way up the coast to Vancouver, Kas’ shop treated them to new sets of magnesium-alloy road wheels of a type not then known in the UK [American Racing Equipment Silverstone IIs], and they were road-registered in the state of Oregon, where there were no administrative costs. 3 VC therefore became CAG 408.”
The addition of a rollbar is a subtle modern safety concession
“The Shell 4000 was a ‘time-speed-distance’ type of event, where accurate timekeeping and navigation were required of the co-driver,” continues Robson.
“None of the chosen crews in the TR4s appeared to be supreme at this craft. The pilot of 3 VC/CAG 408, Bert Rasmussen, was an enthusiastic and competent Canadian rally competitor and technician with the local Triumph importer, but he was by no means a world-class driver.
“Even so, the TR4s proved themselves to be the fastest sports cars in what was a very ‘rough-road’ event, and all three of them made it to the finish in Montreal.
“3VC had survived well and Rasmussen was proud to be a member of the Triumph ‘works’ team, which had taken home the GT Team Prize.”
In its ultimate state of tune, the TR4 had almost 135bhp