Following Triumph Standard’s expensive assault on Le Mans with the Sabrina engined TRS, a revised Triumph competition department was formed that would focus solely on rallying. Four cars were built and campaigned between 1962 and 1964, registered 3 VC, 4 VC, 5 VC and 6VC. These cars competed extensively across Europe, contending most of the significant international rallies of the period.
These four cars differed significantly from the standard road cars with a strengthened chassis, aluminium bodywork, stronger suspension, Perspex windows and significant improvements to the engine and drivetrain including specially modified cylinder heads, dual-choke Weber carburettors and highlift cams. They were painted Powder Blue as green photographed badly, and white got dirty too quickly.
The history of 3 VC, sometimes referred to as the lead car from the four car line-up, is extensively documented by Graham Robson, who was the Competitions Secretary for Standard Triumph between 1962 to 1965. He records that the initial 1962 programme would be for the Dutch Tulip, the French Alpine, Liege-Sofia-Liege, and the British RAC events. As such, four new right-hand-drive Powder Blue TR4s, fitted with the optional 2-litre engine, were ordered, arriving in mid-February. John Sprinzel was appointed ‘Team Captain’ for the new operation, and under his instruction fellow drivers Mike Sutcliffe and Jean-Jacques Thuner were signed up. John was allocated 3 VC, which was to remain as ‘his’ car throughout the 1962 season.
As such, he specified as many fixtures, fittings, modifications and other details as he could assemble – and while 3 VC was usually the first of the team to benefit, the other cars would later adopt the same modifications.
The European competition history of 3 VC reads as follows:
- Tulip Rally, May 1962, John Sprinzel/Graham Robson, 4th in Class.
- French Alpine Rally, June 1962, John Sprinzel/Willy Cave, Retired
- Liege – Sofia – Liege, August 1962 John Sprinzel/Willy Cave, Retired
- RAC Rally, November 1962, John Sprinzel/Willy Cave, 15th overall, 4th in GT Category and the team also won the GT Category Team Prize.
- Tulip Rally, April 1963, Vic Elford/David Stone, GT Category position 4th Overall,2nd in Class and the team also won the GT Category Team Prize.
- French Alpine Rally, June 1963, Vic Elford/David Stone, Retired (accident)
- Spa – Sofia – Liege, August 1963, Don Grimshaw/Roy Dixon, Retired (punctures and jack failure)
- RAC Rally, November 1963, Elford/David Stone, Retired (engine failure)
It was assumed, at this point, that the four VC’s would be retired as the focus was to move on to Spitfire’s and the big 2000s for the 1964 season. However, Triumph USA found the funds to ship three of them across the pond for the tough 1964 Canadian Shell 4000 rally, supported by ‘Kas’ Kastner, who ran Triumph of America’s competition programme. The rally was 4,000 miles long and connected Vancouver with Montreal by way of several other regional capitals. Two of the cars would be allocated to influential specialist press men and USA/Canada rally enthusiasts, while one of them could be crewed by existing Triumph team members. All three were re-prepared with the light-alloy panelled body shell retained, along with all the very special running gear, power train, suspensions, large fuel tank, electric wiring, and cockpit equipment, and rebuilt around brand-new rally-specification left-hand-drive chassis frames. Kastner fitted magnesium alloy road wheels upon arrival.
- Shell 4000 Rally, April 1964, Bert Rasmussen/Paul Coombe, 16th Overall and highest-placed sports car to finish, whilst the team also won the GT Team Prize