A Life In Cars

The life story of Dickie Sutherland


Triumph TR4A

Triumph TR4A a sports car ahead of the time. An excitement machine, Italian lines, Britsh pucker, for all time.

Trevor had purchased the TR4A shortly after I sold my MGA in 1968.  My association with the TR4A began with maintenance work on the TR, then after my return from the UK, Trevor asked if I and Roger could repair rust problems and resprayed the TR in a ‘brighter’ white. 

The TR4A a sports car with style ahead of local sedans of the era, the 4-speed with overdrive on the top 3 gears, a 7-speed, bucket seat, a heater that’s works, wire wheels, all-around independent suspension and more.  Trevor drove the TR4A all over South Australia, Victoria, as far as Queensland. 

1992 Time passes I’m a family man, with 2 kids growing up, I changed employers from working as a Panel Beater Spray Painter with the Commonwealth Government now to the State Government, College of Advanced Education for Automotive Engineering as a lecturer’s assistant, then a Lecturer in Panel Beating.  When looking for a home project, a panel-making project to extend my trade skills, a small classic four-seater tourer perhaps, or a Sunday driver on family outings.  Trevor happen to mention to me he was considering selling the TR4A, would I be interested?  Fortunately, for me, Carolyn heard the announcement and encouraged me to buy the TR4A. 

On 11 February 1992, Nicholas and I drove home in the rain from Trevor’s looking forward to the forth-coming drives in the TR4A.  The rolling restoration began.  After 27 years of daily use, the TR was in need of body, paint, and trim repairs.  Trevor had kept the car in very original condition, with good running repair, thanks in part to Bob Anderson of Power Tune Motors.  I joined the TSOA (Triumph Sports Owner’s Association) in 1992 to take advantage of meeting other TR4A owners, club activities and all things TRiumph.

A potted history of a British sports car in South Australia

First owner

Robert J. Woods of Peterborough South Australia

Having previously owned a TR2, TR3A and TR4 (picture Below) before purchased the TR4A from Exhibition Motors in Adelaide 13th August 1965. 

Judy Robert’s wife learnt to drive in the TR4A while they were living in Ceduna.  They drove the TR4A from Ceduna to Peterborough and Adelaide quite often during that time

Robert’s decision to sell the TR4A in 1967 the TR4A was traded for a “2000” at Exhibition Motors due to a forthcoming  addition to the family, son born August September 1967.

Robert and Judy with Robert TR4, note the number plate

Second Owner

Robert J. Kretschmer of Whyalla South Australia

Bob who is into motorbike racing, looking for a sports car with more grunt than his current MGB for towing his bikes trailer.  He purchased the TR4A from Cremorn Motors in Unley.  The TR4A had the power along with the overdrive did it with ease and good economy.  Bob added a tow bar he designed and made.  With Bob’s desire to race a Mini, his car needs shifted to a Mini.  Bob met Trevor Pluck, he had a Mini Deluxe and he was willing to trade on the TR4A.

Third owner

Trevor of Plympton, working in Whyalla commuting to home in Adelaide on the weekends.  Trevor purchased the TR4A from Bob late in 1968 .  Trevor’s work relocated to Mount Gambier, the TR4A came into its own on the long drives to and from Mount Gambier in the days of no open road speed limits.  He joined the TSOA in the 1970s, enjoying many of the club activities.  He drove the TR4A as his everyday car for many years, only when his 3 children had outgrown the 4A’s small occasional rear seat did the time come for the TR4A to provide another owner with the Triumph experience. 

Trevor added a Backlight, Hardtop, and replaced the generator with an Alternator. 

Trevor joined the Triumph Owners’ Association, participating in all club events and activities. A club set up for TR drivers in 1965, and still going strong today.

Fourth owner

Yours truly of Adelaide South Australia

A Panel Beater Spray Painter looking for a small classic four-seater tourer to provide a project for the shed and a Sunday driver on family outings.  My friendship with Trevor, and knowledge of the TR4A made it the ideal project for me.  Nic and I took possession from Trevor of the TR4A in February 1992 and the rolling restoration began. 

1993 Rolling restoration

The rolling restoration began in 1993, first the Differential, after Nic and my first outing to Clare with the TR4A I noticed a noise from the differential, a tooth was broken off the pinion gear.  What followed by Body rust repairs.  I had been making new panels and there was a call from the Panel shop for student projects.  That call accelerated my making of panel and replacement sections to meet the demand.  Brakes, Suspension, and Trim were next, prior to a Paint Respray in 1996.

The opportunity to devote more time to the car in 2004 one last time to restore the Chassis, Engine, Gearbox, and Wiring loom, and with the TR4A in bits fix minor dents before Paint to complete the restoration in 2004. 

Today the TR4A is enjoying a relaxed lifestyle and the company of other Triumphs.

The drives I have enjoyed in the TR4A have been club runs through the Adelaide hills, two trips with other Triumph club members to Wakefield Park Race circuit near Goulburn in NSW, shared with my brother Donald.  Such a great trip, driving for several hours at 100 to 110kph using the overdrive to pass semitrailers with added ease, the thrill of driving a car that communicates the road the environment the drive to oneself in such an exhilarating way.  The Goulburn trips we have had to pass on over the past few years due to family commitments, but I would, we would go at the drop of a hat if the winds were favorable. 

Owning a Classic sports car is a hobby that requires attention to the car from time to time, parts ware, panels move, and trim gets worn.  There is always a need to check the tunning, not an onerous task but one that can put up a challenge now and then.  It’s an involvement in the car with the camaraderie of other Triumph owners through the Triumph Sports Owners’ Club, fun and always something of interest.  Like John who quite often has a problem to solve or if there is no problem he’ll go and buy a car with a problem. 

Back with the TR4A, I need to replace the tires, yes the current set has plenty of tread but is getting old.  Not to mention that when I replaced the well-worn Michelins with Hanhook, the drive or drive experience was one of dire panic, the TR went from a sports racer to a boulevard hack, with no connection with the steering wheel and the road.  Scary! To say the least, yes I’m used to the ride now but it’s not right, it’s not the TR4A.  Why did I buy Handkook, well the Michelin went from $100 per tire to $400 a tire.  Oh yes, the Hankook was less than $100 each.  I bought the Michelins from a retailer in the UK for $1000 delivered, delivered in five, yes 5 days, how was that, they were 2016 stock.  While I was spending most of what money I could find I bought a pair of updated rear drive shafts, the CV style with updated hubs, no more clunking from the rear splines.

New tires, up-rated Drive shafts how good it is to have the TR4A running so well, time to get out on the open road and enjoy the drive.  Well, Bob the second owner, has the TR4A back after 50-plus years.

Meanwhile, Trevor and Richard had one last run in the TR4A, back to Peterborough where it all began, then on to see who’s next.

Fifth owner Bob the Fourth owner

At the TSOA Fifty Anniversary meeting the TR4A had pride of place on stage for the meeting.  The TR4A was 50 and invited the previous owners to celebrate the 50th.  At the meeting Bob expressed an interest in buying the TR4A, it was the car he courted his wife Margaret in 1968, which could be just the car to celebrate their marriage.  After some discussions, Margaret said she was interested in Bob, not the car, an agreement was made and Bob bought back his TR4A

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