John Webber
John Webber
2/12/20 12:20 p.m.

The red Triumph TR3 jockeys for a place in the line of show cars. As it rumbles in, a handful of guys follow it like kids after an ice cream truck. When the owner finally backs it into position, shuts off the engine and raises the hood, a dozen more eager faces gather around. This car couldn’t draw more attention if the owner set it on fire.

But what is this little roadster doing at a Ford show?

Make no mistake: Bill Lowery is a British-car guy. He’s owned several, including a couple of Triumphs. An Austin-Healey Sprite was his only transportation when he started college. Bill has always loved the classic styling and responsive handling found in British sports cars, along with the most basic reward of sporty, open-air motoring. “These cars are just plain fun,” he says.

Still, Bill is driven to seek fast fun that leaves other British-car guys in the dust. While most owners are perfectly happy with their LBCs as God and the Queen intended them to be driven, Bill wants more. Not a little more, but a lot more. That’s why his TR3 is powered by a 347-cubic-inch Ford V8.

Are we having fun yet? No? Then bolt on a Paxton supercharger. 

Still not enough? Add a 100-horsepower nitrous oxide kit. 

When this baby goes on the bottle, it puts out well north of 500 horses. And consider this: This potent package powers a roadster that now weighs some 100 pounds less than it did when it left the factory. Not only is a stock TR3 heavier than Bill’s car, remember that it makes do with only about a hundred horsepower. 

This thing is a beast; King Kong is on the loose! Grab the kids and lock your doors. Punch up 9-1-1. Call a priest. If sportscaster Keith Jackson were calling this game, he’d be screaming, “Whoa, Nellie!” 

You can blame this overachieving Triumph on Bill’s dad, Bill Lowery Sr. In his younger days, Senior was an aviation designer/mechanic who built air racers from scratch. He was also involved in the motor building side of an Indy car racing team. 

Back in 1963, he dropped a 260-cubic-inch Ford V8 and a top-loader transmission into a TR3. A few years later, he upgraded to a 289 Hi-Po Ford and added a Paxton supercharger. 

As a kid in New Jersey, Bill Jr. very much enjoyed riding in the quick little roadster. Sadly, he never actually got to drive it, since his father sold the car just a couple weeks before Bill got his driver’s license. Could this be a coincidence? “I never could understand that,” Bill says. Still, he never forgot that particular Triumph and vowed that someday he would build one just like it.

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mrichlen New Reader
2/13/20 7:34 a.m.

It is not that I am purist or I disagree with the concept, and if you think it is important to leave your friends in the dust that is ok too.  The car looks to be very well crafted, but it is not a TR3.  It is what I would call a Rod.  The same as a Bucket T is not a Ford Model T or a 40 Ford with the usual SBC, LS whatever,  MMII front and multi link rear is still a 40 Ford; they are Rods.  I like Rods, especially if they are interesting and don't have a bowtie in them.  I like this one also, but it is not a TR3, probably does not even leak oil. 

Indy-Guy PowerDork
2/13/20 8:35 a.m.

I like it a LOT !


As a matter of fact, I'm building my own V8 powered Triumph.  However, mine's an LS swapped TR4

wspohn Dork
2/13/20 1:31 p.m.

I've never considered that particular car a good candidate for a V8 swap given the handling shortcomings and the fact that the rear end runs over rather than under the rear axle.

We had one guy that installed a Chev 283 in his, but because the suspension cross brace got in the way of the water pump or something, he left it off the car. Took about 6 months for the front suspensuon towers to start slowly folding toward each other.  Triumph generally didn't install unecessary bits on the car.

I had a fast street TR3 with a 87 mm pistons, a head rewoked by a place in the UK that knew the engiens, 10:1 compression and something that approximated the old G cam, and it was about 130 bhp and a ton of fun without compromising anything.

A friend owns this car  that he split down the middle and added 4" to so he could fit a Nissan 240 SX engine to (with IRS rear end) which gave him 140 bhp net (vs. my figure, which was gross) and it is a very nice swap, but  that is a far cry from 500 bhp.

Your fearless leader can probably comment on this thread as he races a TR3.

Unless there was a fair bit of frame strengthening done on that 500 bhp car, I'd love to see what the results of putting it on an alignment rack to measure twist etc. was.

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