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My Triumph Obsession, Part III: Why you can never have enough spare parts

Published in blog.hemmings.com

The lower section of the left-front fender on my 1955 TR2 needs to be replaced, but with six spare left-side front fenders on hand, it will allow that damaged fender to be repaired with authentic Triumph body metal for a more genuine repair. Several spare doors, four trunk lids, and four hoods are all part of my cherished stash. The red Herald is a 1960 model; yes, it runs! Photos by author.

When it comes to owning old British sports cars, or any car that wasn’t produced in huge numbers, you can never possess enough spare parts. Unlike owning a catalog car, such as a Camaro, Corvette, Mustang, or 1957 Chevrolet, where every part has been reproduced and is just a phone call away from being delivered to your front door the next day, when you collect and restore cars like Triumphs you need to prepare for any uncertainty that lies ahead. So, when the opportunity presents itself to acquire spare parts, especially body parts, you jump at the chance to get them.

As I’ve discovered in the past, when you’re in the process of performing a body-off restoration, as I’m currently knee-deep in with my 1960 Triumph TR3A, you can never have enough spare body parts. And it doesn’t matter if any of those extra fenders, doors, or hoods are dented, rusted, or in less-than-ideal shape, because sometimes all you need to repair the body panels that are already on your car is just one particular section.

Four spare nose panels will help me repair the original, but dented, nose panel on my 1960 TR3A. Additional parts on the wall of my Triumph “gallery” include TR3 rear fenders, 1968 Spitfire trunk lid and front valance, various hood frames and TR3 wheels, and a perfect late-model Spitfire frame that I simply couldn’t pass up. The engine on the lower left is a spare 1,296cc Spitfire engine in case the original engine in my ’68 Spitfire ever grenades. The two-piece modular racing rims circa late ’60s make excellent rolling “chairs” to use while working.   

The patch-panels needed to repair the lower portion of a fender, the corner of a hood, or one side of a front valance may very well lie within those dented spare body panels. Even the lip of a badly dented fender might come in handy to repair another fender. You just never know what small body section you may need one day down the road.

Same applies to some mechanical parts, especially with critical components such as cylinder heads, gearboxes, rear axles, and overdrives; practically every other mechanical and electrical part can, for the most part, be bought new—yes, even for Triumphs.

More TR3 doors, five spare tire lids, and a rear section for the back of a TR3, along with another pair of fenders, line the wall opposite of the first photo. The black headrest is for a TR4/6; made of fiberglass, it came with a 1963 TR4 that I had back in the ’80s and decided that the car’s new owner didn’t need to know about it.

So how do I store all my spare body panels? Simple. I hung them on the walls throughout my garage. Not only does this method free up floor space, but it has transformed my garage into an art gallery of automotive sculpture. Hope these photos inspire you to do the same.