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Dear Sir…

By Frank Hughes

I am writing you for some advice.

I am the owner of a 1962 Triumph TR3. I am the original owner and with your indulgence I’ll tell you about it and then solicit your recommendations.

April 19, 1962 I was on spring break from the United States Naval Academy and looking forward to three events that would change my life forever. In no particular order, my parents promised me a car if and when I graduated. I had a choice between a used Austin-Healey and a new TR3. The second event was to graduate from USNA and enter flight training as soon as possible. The third event was to marry my first wife (she’s my only wife and hates when I say that) who I met on a blind date during my freshman (plebe) year.

I picked up my red TR3 with red interior and white top in Miami on April 19, 1962. $2,203.30 tax, tag, and title. This started our journey. I drove non-stop, except for gas, following the engine break-in instructions: “Vary the speed constantly, do not exceed 50 mph”… except on random occasions when I could accelerate for brief periods, not to exceed 70 mph. I drove to Norfolk Virginia where my soon-to-be wife was living to show her “our car.” Then on the road again immediately to Annapolis where I would hide the car in a garage I rented until graduation. Midshipmen were not allowed to have cars until after graduation.

Graduation was on the 6th of June and after the ceremony I drove to Norfolk to get married three days later. Immediately after our wedding my new bride and I started the drive to Pensacola, Florida, to start flight training. I have heard about this concept of a “honeymoon” all of my married life, but being the daughter of a Naval officer and Aviator, my wife somehow understood that all Navy pilots have an obsession about flying. Some call it having a screw loose between the ears.

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This painting I commissioned from a good friend, Jim Dietz. Jim is a noted military themed painter with work hanging in museums and Pentagon offices. This one he called “Last look,” and it’s of my squadron as we were deploying to Vietnam. The TR3 is mine and the lovely lady is my wife. When Jim visited my A7 squadron, I took him through the simulator and then to happy hour. He is really a neat guy and very humble person.

Next stop, jet training in Kingsville, Texas, and I was the first in my class to get my wings. But more importantly, my beautiful daughter was born as I was getting my wings of gold. From Kingsville we traveled to Jacksonville for fleet training and the bassinet fit nicely behind the seats.

Next an operational A4 Skyhawk attack squadron with multiple cruises in the Mediterranean sea and Atlantic Ocean. But war clouds had formed in the Tonkin Gulf. A phone call conveyed orders to report to an attack squadron in Lemoore, California, that was getting ready for a combat tour aboard an aircraft carrier. Our happy bank piled into a Ford station wagon towing a red TR3 with daughter and new baby boy on the road once again.

A very tough and costly cruise ended with many combat casualties and a devastating fire on the carrier.

Again, message orders to my dream assignment to the Empire Test Pilot School in England. What better place to take the Triumph but home, even though the steering wheel was on the wrong side. After ETPS came Patuxent River, Maryland, the Navy’s aviation test center and lots of opportunity to fly some neat stuff.

As our journey in the Navy progressed, I was honored to command a carrier-based attack squadron, and here a major change to our steed took place. Immediately after assuming command the maintenance chief came to see me and almost apologetically said, “Skipper, I know you love your car but red is the color of our sister squadron and we are the blue tails. If you buy the paint, our guys will paint your car on our off time in my garage.”

And so as you can see from the photos I have attached, the Triumph is now blue.

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Now the dilemma. Our three kids are grown and we have beautiful grandchildren and a new great grandson. None of the kids are that interested in taking over the care and feeding of our Triumph. I’ve now turned 80 and discovered that in Florida, over the course of several years in the garage, the space for our Triumph has shrunk. I have contacted several Triumph clubs both nationally and locally with no success in finding a reasonable offer. Triumph is not a show car but has been carefully maintained and still a fun car to drive. If I can find a reasonable offer from someone that would enjoy the car I would reluctantly part with it. Any suggestions? MM

Dear Frank,

When customers ask for advice on selling their beloved cars, my first response is: let the British car clubs around you know you’re looking for a new caretaker. The ladies and gentlemen in their membership can also help spread the word and may know people on the lookout for cars like yours.

And then, of course, there’s the internet. Moss Motors supports an online classified site created by a long time Moss parts distributor. The beauty of this site is that it only caters to British cars. It’s well done, inexpensive to post an ad, and definitely worth a look.
The site is called: BritishCarClassifieds.com

~David Stuursma


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