Paul Cowden 1967 TR4A

I bought this white 1967 TR4A in 1979 from a young lady in San Francisco who was selling it because she "was getting too many speeding tickets." I had been looking around since I'd moved to California for a TR4 to replace the one I had in college back in Ohio in the late 60s. That one, a black 1963, had been my faithful steed through college, had taught me the basics of auto repair and maintenance, and had finally rusted through the floor pan. Not wishing to see it deteriorate further, I sold it. But I never forgot it.

I realized in California I could have a rust-free car and keep it forever if I wanted to. This one was in better-than-average condition, but the white paint was unremarkable in its various shades due to body repairs and it had tired seats, black tired top and discolored steel disc wheels.

A few months later, just by chance, I saw a tow truck in my neighborhood with a TR250 on the hook stopping in front of a house down the street. I walked down and talked to the owner of the car, who had just bought it for parts and was having it dumped in his driveway. The TR250 had perfect seats, wire wheels and a chrome luggage rack, none of which the new owner wanted. Three hundred dollars later, they all were mine. I added Michelin red-stripped tires and a tan convertible top and suddenly my boring white LBC looked quite classy, at least to my eyes.

Earlier, I had gone down to the DMV to see what kind of special personalized license plate I could get for it. I leafed through the book of taken plates (this is before the internet, of course), hoping maybe I could score some combination of TR and '67 or something, so I tried "1967 TR4" and nobody had taken it! Amazing!  So I got it and have had it on my car since 1980. I just know there's some guy down in Southern California who's saying, "That guy hasn’t died yet? I want his plate!"

The car stayed basically unrestored for 30 years. I drove it regularly, though I have a Honda as a daily driver. The TR has been up and down the Left Coast many times and was my favorite ride up to the Sierras to go skiing for years.

Then five years ago, I gave in to an offer from a buddy, Mike, who had a body shop. For at least 20 years he had said, "You send me so much business, I'll paint your TR for free." Wow! Free? Then I thought how much prep work I'd have to do and then the re-assembly work involved, plus clean-up of all the metal bits, standing at the wire wheel (I've done this before), so I kept postponing the "free paint job." It became a twenty-year standing joke. "When you gonna bring over that Triumph so I can paint it?" he'd ask. "Oh, next week, I guess," I'd say. Finally in 2009 Mike called me to say, "I'm retiring and selling the business this summer so if you want that free paint job you better get that car over here soon!" And so I did.

It turned out beautifully, but took an additional four years of patient procrastination to finally get it all back together with new and restored original parts. The engine, transmission, starter and generator all got rebuilt and I replaced the wiring harness as well. No sense tempting Mr. Lucas!

It's a real joy to drive and, of course, gets lots of looks and thumbs-ups and comments. Seems everybody had one or knew somebody who had one. You have to factor in 10 additional minutes every time you stop and park it when running errands.

With any luck, I'll have my pretty white TR4A for at least another 20 years. My retirement comes in about three years and there are still many miles of Northern California backroads we need to go explore together.