SHIFT/Monterey | Lot 247
1955 Triumph TR2 Works Experimental Competition
Competed at the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans
$203,500 USD | Sold
| Graz, Austria
14 - 15 AUGUST 2020
- One of three Works cars constructed for the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans
- Driven to 14th place overall and 5th in class at Le Mans by Ninian Sanderson and Bob Dickson.
- Also competed in 1955 Tourist Trophy at Dundrod, finishing 22nd overall and 3rd in class.
- Immaculately restored by North Devon Metalcraft, CTM Engineering and Company Langbauer.
- Accompanied by FIA HTP papers, U.K. V5, BMIHT Certificate, and Coventry Transport Museum Certificate of Vehicle Authenticity
- Eligible for numerous Historic events including Le Mans Classic, Goodwood Revival and the Mille Miglia
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, a healthy but fiercely competitive rivalry existed between the two main pillars of the British Motor Industry, British Motor Corporation (BMC) and Rootes Group. The now infamous 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans would see the two sides lock horns once again, with BMC entering three experimental MGAs whilst Standard Triumph entered a team of three Triumph TR2s. Although in different capacity classes - up to 1,500 cc, and 1,500 cc to 2,000 cc respectively - the battle for bragging rights was of vital importance to both concerns. Le Mans remained the most important race of the year for manufacturers and, critically, was perhaps the only European race which carried significant weight in the all-important US market.
The build up to the race saw Standard Triumph assume the moral high ground: whilst the MGAs and the 2.0-litre class-pacesetting Bristol 450s were experimental prototypes, the TR2s remained defiantly production based. Save for 1¾“ SU carburettors replacing the standard 1½“ items, the use of 62-spoke competition wire wheels alongside four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes, and the fitment of a long-range fuel tank, the cars remained in virtually showroom specification.
This particular car, known by its original British registration number PKV 376, was driven at Le Mans by the Anglo-Scottish pairing of Bob Dickson and Ninian Sanderson. Both had previously driven Jaguar C-Types for Ecurie Ecosse, whilst Dickson had finished fifteenth overall at Le Mans the previous year in a privately-entered TR2. Tragically, the 1955 edition of the race would be dominated by Levegh’s dreadful accident in which some 84 people perished; Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb’s victory in their works Jaguar D-Type rendered hollow in this context. In the wake of this, PKV 376 ran faultlessly en route to fourteenth overall and fifth in class, behind the three Bristols and a works Frazer Nash Sebring.
The unassuming TR had covered a remarkable 2,040 miles at an average speed of almost 85 mph, Triumph Competition Director Ken Richardson later commenting - metaphorically one hopes - that the car was so easy to drive that “…..at full speed one could steer it with one hand and light a cigarette with the other”. Although shaken by the apocalyptic scenes which had unfolded before him, Sanderson would return in 1956 and win the race outright driving - ironically - an Ecurie Ecosse D-Type.
In September 1955, PKV 376 competed in the Tourist Trophy at the daunting Dundrod road circuit in Ulster, the entry of which included works teams from Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Porsche. Lead Mercedes-Benz driver Stirling Moss was paired with John Fitch, the former putting in another virtuoso performance which secured a resounding 1-2-3 finish for Mercedes-Benz. Meanwhile, Dickson was co-driven by Ken Richardson, the pairing finishing a creditable 22nd overall and third in class, behind the Maserati A6GCS of Loens/Bonnier and the sister TR2 of Todd/Titterington.
Following the conclusion of the car’s short but illustrious international career, it was used by Works Rootes Group driver “Cherry” Osborn in a handful of UK events, which included victory in the Ladies Trophy at Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb in 1955. Thereafter the car was rebuilt and sold to its first private owner, Malcolm Hurst, in 1956. In 1959, Hurst sold the car to Graeme Forbes in Scotland, who in turn sold the car in 1962 to Gerald Finch - an American GI serving in Germany at the time. It is important to note that in the early 1970’s ownership passed through Donald George Phillips and Jeffery James Hogan of Des Moines, Iowa. According to the consignor, these were Finch’s cousin and brother in law and therefore ownership remained in Finch’s family throughout this time. Finch kept the car until his death in 2000, the vendor purchasing the car from his son in 2004.
During the vendor’s ownership, PKV 376 has been subjected to an exacting rebuild which included meticulous restoration of the bodywork by North Devon Metalcraft, an engine rebuild by Company Langbauer and the construction of a replacement frame by CTM Engineering, yet the original frame accompanies the car. The car is accompanied by a comprehensive history file, which includes an original 1955 Le Mans programme, and is supported by current FIA HTP papers, U.K. V5 registration document, BMIHT Certificate and a FIVA Identity card.
Few cars can lay claim to having competed against the likes of Moss, Fangio, Hawthorn and Salvadori; fewer still to have been ex-works cars driven by a future Le Mans winner. Eminently usable and beautifully presented, PKV 376 would be a very welcome and historically significant addition to any number of the “blue riband” Historic racing events for which it is eligible.