1963 TRIUMPH 'GTR4 Dové'

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1963 TRIUMPH 'GTR4 Dové'

Background

The Triumph TR4 was a much more modern car than the TR3 it replaced, marking a significant change of direction for Triumph. As such, it was something of a gamble but one that paid off handsomely because the press, public and dealers all loved it and more than 40,000 eventually found homes across the globe.

With hindsight, the TR4’s success was guaranteed; it looks sensational, goes like stink, yet is still simple enough that the talented home mechanic can maintain and repair it with only a few simple hand tools.

Remember, not only was the world still struggling to haul itself out of post-war austerity at the time but cars of the period still needed regularly fettling with 3,000-mile oil changes and routine de-cokes being the rule…

The Vehicle

Believed to be one of only 43 cars ever made, the Triumph GTR4 Dové (the accent was there to increase the car’s appeal with our continental friends) was commissioned by L.F. Dove & Co., a Triumph dealer based in Wimbledon, London.

The actual conversion was carried out by Thomas Harringtons of Worthing (the same company that built the Sunbeam Harrington Alpine cars) and in addition to the obvious changes to the bodywork the Dové fastback coupé also featured a 15-gallon fuel tank in the spare wheel well, fold-down 2+2 rear seating, bespoke leather interior trim, extra badging, and an opening rear hatch.

These changes turned the TR4 into a genuine grand touring car, which is just as well because the £1,250 cost was approaching Jaguar E-Type territory…

The conversion, which included a fibreglass roof, improved the car’s mid-range acceleration thanks to its new, more aerodynamic, shape, albeit a shape that also added 400lbs to the car’s weight.

This example had a full body-off restoration in 1988 that included the conversion from a standard car to a Dove lookalike. The work was commissioned by an RAF officer in Germany and there are extensive invoices on file to substantiate his five-figure investment in the work.

With just the one former registered keeper, while it is now in need of some gentle cosmetic refurbishment, this is a rare opportunity to get your hands on an unusual classic British sportscar that almost no-one has ever heard of.

On the Outside

The fastback coupé conversion, which is in the spirit of the original, takes the already very attractive TR4 and adds another layer to its appeal. We love the side profile in particular, and can see hints of the MGB GT in the rear view.

Low-profile wing mirrors, the hooded headlamps, and the off-centre bonnet bulge add further interest and the Dové’s charm is further enhanced by a set of painted 15-inch, centrelock wire wheels that hide red front brake calipers. The rear axle is fitted with good Michelin tyres, while the front sits on a pair of Vikings.

A towbar is fitted, and while the TR4’s towing capacity is probably limited, wouldn’t it look terrific with a bike carrier and period racing bicycle on the back?

The panels all look good, lining up as they should and they are largely free of damage. However, the paint is poor overall with micro-blistering around the fibreglass hardtop. Slides #40, #63, #87, #88, #98 and #154 give you a good idea of the extent of the issues.

The chrome is pitted too. Please see slides #71, #74, #76, and #102 for examples of what we’re talking about.

On the Inside

The interior is as focused and purposeful as the coachwork. Largely black, the wonderful wood and alloy steering wheel adds some contrast, as do the chrome controls and instrument bezels.

The bespoke black leather perforated front seats have worn well over the years and show only the very lightest of creasing. The useful rear seats look good, as do the door cards.

The boot, which is clean and solid, is home to a matching spare wire wheel.

Work to do seems to be minor. Like the engine bay, we might be tempted to tidy up the wiring a little (#108) and some of the wooden veneer could do with freshening up (i.e. #84) but it’s otherwise good in there overall.

Underneath

The engine bay is pretty clean and only the most fastidious of owners would feel the need to do much more than perhaps tidy up a few untidy wires and control cables.

As you can see, it starts very well and shows good oil pressure. It also revs beautifully and ticks over as it should.

Faults? Well, the clutch seems to be worn out. Heavy and with a very low bite point, the gears are hard to engage.

There also looks to be some rust on the sills (#70 and #132) that would warrant further investigation.

History Highlights

The typewritten bills from the late eighties aren’t only quaint but they demonstrate an investment of over £10,000 in the TR4, a sum that worth equate to more than £22,000 in today’s money. Definitely worth leafing through to see how this substantial sum was accrued but we can only imagine how much the work to turn it into a Dove lookalike would contributed to the overall bill.

The TR4 doesn’t have a current MoT certificate, and while it is exempt by virtue of its age, we would strongly encourage the new owner to have it MoT’d at the earliest opportunity. The cost of an MoT is a small investment when offset against the purchase and upkeep of any classic vehicle, and it gives an independent, third-party assessment of the car’s condition, which not only provides reassurance to the owner (and any subsequent purchasers) but might also be invaluable in the event of a bump when negotiating with the police and any interested insurance companies…

What We Think

The Triumph TR4A is popular for a reason; it’s tough, easy to maintain, decently fast, and enormous fun to drive. It also feels wonderfully vintage and so ticks a great many of the boxes for those of us who hanker after a hairy chested British roadster.

And the Dové conversion, which was added by an aftermarket company in the eighties, adds both beauty and practicality, turning the TR4 into a sporting grand tourer and so widening its appeal still further. Add in if-you-know-you-know charm, and we can see this lot drawing an enormous amount of interest.

How much interest? Well, its rarity makes it hard to value, but they do come up from time to time and our research suggests this one should fetch somewhere between £20,000 and £25,000, a figure that takes into account its non-original status.

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

Bidders MUST ensure they are aware of the registration situation of a car in auction, and whether it will be possible to export/register a vehicle in their country BEFORE they bid.

All vehicles MUST BE COLLECTED WITHIN 7-DAYS of the auction end. Storage fees of £180 + VAT apply (per week) thereafter without exception.

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage can offer you options, plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping both domestic and international.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we always encourage bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using basic cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen (Caveat Emptor) and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, a return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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Seller

nick999

  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: TBC
  • Chassis Number: CT249150
  • Engine: 2136
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Steering position: Right-hand drive
  • Colour: Black
  • Interior: Black
  • Estimated Price: £20,000 - £25,000
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