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						Ev Triumph Tr3 9
Quarantine Project: EV-Swapped Triumph TR3

1960 Triumph TR3 EV swap

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Craigslist

Most of us like our cars vintage, and we like them as correct as possible. So naturally we conjure up more than a reasonable amount of hesitation when someone proposes EV swapping our classics. With a lifelong fascination surrounding the internal combustion engine and more than my fair share of nostalgic inspiration, I’m against the idea in most cases, but I’m met with examples every now and then that run my tally of excuses pretty thin. I present for your consideration this 1960 Triumph TR3, equipped with a fully-reversible EV swap and all the original driveline hardware included — and most importantly, a functional gearshift in the cockpit.

The Triumph TR3 isn’t exactly a rare car, with some 83,000 examples built across nine years of production, but it is a beloved and desirable classic that can be worth anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000. So you could say there’s a little pressure to not mess it up too bad, and I think the builders did a pretty decent job of it. The car was built by a father-son team to pass time during the COVID 19 pandemic, and they went as far as to document the entire process in a book that’s been published by RLT Industries and available here on Amazon. As stated, the builders kept all the car’s original hardware on hand and claim that no modifications have been made to the car’s body or frame, meaning you could revert it back to original at any time. That point is sure to gain favor with the traditional crowd (myself included), but to really test the concept, we have to see how it stacks up against the Triumph’s standard specification.

The TR3 was making right around 105 hp by 1960, and shifting came by way of a four-speed manual with an optional overdrive unit available. In period, your average TR3 probably got to 60 mph in right around 10 seconds, and would do about 105 mph flat out. Per the seller, the TR3’s 2.1-liter engine weighed right around 320 pounds, with an additional 100 pounds of gas sloshing around, and would get you 270-300 miles down the road before you’ll need a fill up. Per the seller’s description, the original engine is due for a rebuild.

In place of the old cast iron lump, resides a rather unassuming assembly of alloys that the seller describes as a Netgain Hyper-9HV motor. I’m no expert on EV tech, but the motor specs out right around 162 lb-ft and 120 hp with the use of an SME AC-X144 controller, which seems pretty stout. Touted as a modern high-performance unit, a whole swap kit can be had from EV West for right around $4,600.

According to the seller, the motor weighs 130 pounds, but you also have to factor in the 330 pounds of LiFePO4 batteries. It’s tough to find much on the web about these batteries, but the seller lists the capacity at 20 kWh and states that they haven’t been abused. So in all, we have somewhere around 460 pounds of EV hardware (pretty comparable to the ICE hardware at 420 pounds) with a range of 80 to 100 miles. So to oversimplify, the car does give up a little weight and some range for its power and performance advantage, but what I think is really cool with this build is the preservation of the manual transmission. Rather than summarize it myself, I'll leave you this quick explanation from the seller:

You can leave it in third gear and drive it like an automatic -- no shifting and no clutching required -- or you can shift using the clutch like any standard transmission car. By using the electric motor’s forward/reverse switch (on the dashboard) in combination with the original 4-speed (plus reverse) transmission, you have access to five forward gears and five reverse. But in practice you'll probably only ever use second and third gear. You have full torque starting at zero RPMs. Go up to 60 mph in 2nd gear, up to 90 mph in third. Acceleration from zero to 60 in 3rd gear alone is better than the original engine ever got using all the gears, and also better than a modern SUV.

Described by my friends as the world’s youngest old man, I can’t pretend like I’d have this EV conversion instead of a conventional gas-burning TR3. But I think the preservation of the manual transmission and 100% reversible nature of this swap makes this car a significant step toward an EV classic that we can all agree on. Plus this thing seems like more fun than a Tesla every day of the week, and that’s gotta count for something.

See the triumph here on San Antonio Craigslist.

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