Passing Down the Car Bug

By Justin VanDertuin

The story of my triumph TR3 starts way back in the ’50s with my grandpa Jack. He loved British race cars. He also had a love of motorcycles and use to race them. That “car bug” got passed down to my dad, not only by my grandpa but also by a ’23 T bucket model he had when he was about five years old. He would eventually go on to build that T bucket pretty much from the ground up some 50 years later. 

My grandpa would take my dad to the drag races. At that moment of seeing those cars scream down the quarter mile, my dad was hooked. That style of cars and racing got passed down to me and that’s why I love having cars, and even learn from services like this Diesel Engine Rebuild just for this. 

One day my dad and I were talking about cars and he told me the story of his first car. A red 1960 Triumph TR3 that his dad bought him. My dad was around age 15. It had black interior, racing rims, and a luggage rack on the back. It needed an engine rebuild, but he had a beautiful first car. What more could a teenage, car-obsessed boy want? He loved it. And it was an extension of his relationship to his dad.

One day when he got home from being out he discovered his car was not there. He went and asked his mom. She told him some guy asked her if he could buy it, and she said yes. Without so much as a  thought about how my dad would think, feel, or want. My dad was furious! He had lost his first car.  Something any car lover can tell you, you can never get back.

He told me he had always wanted to hunt one down. Just to have it back. Reclaim that part of his youth. 

So at age 10 I thought to myself, “Someday I’m going to find that car and get it.”

Fast forward 25 years…

I had saved every bit of spare change I came in contact with. One day at work i was trying to decide what to do with my money. I wanted it to be special. After all, we’re talking about 25 years of saving my dollars and dimes. Then I remembered the story my dad had told me about his first car and it just CLICKED. After bouncing the idea off my wife and getting her full enthusiastic support I went to work hunting down my dad’s car. 

It didn’t take long to find one. By the end of the day I found one on eBay. A red, black interior, ’58 TR3 with a luggage rack on the back.  Just as my dad had described his. I was so excited.  It felt like it was meant to be. Everything just fell perfectly into place.

I called the seller and asked the price. He told me he just wanted his money back out of what he had payed for it. He bought it off an older gentleman who owned several triumphs and was a member in his local triumph club. The older gentleman just couldn’t get down into the car anymore and wanted a good home for it. And just like that, the car found a good home. The next day we drove up to Missouri and picked it up.

When I got it home my dad came over, and he finally got to drive his first car. That TR3 that was taken away from him all those years ago. 

Now my dad and I cruise around and go to car shows together. Him in his T bucket and me in my Triumph. My daughter usually tags along with me to shows just like I did with my dad when I was a kid. I’m proudly passing that “car bug” down to my daughter. The same one started some 60 plus years ago with my grandpa. 

On a side note, the “car bug” has spread. My brother has a ’34 Chevy delivery sedan, my wife has a ’53 Chevy pick up, my dad has a new project car, a ’60 Ranchero that I gave him. I needed to find it a new home because I found a ’59 El camino that I’m currently hot rodding out—just like the ones I use to see go down the drag strip as a kid when my dad would take me to the races. 

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