Record-breaking Jabbeke Triumph TR2 for sale!

The 1953 Triumph TR2 driven by Ken Richardson along the Jabbeke highway in Belgium in pursuit of a world record has been fully restored and is now up for sale

In May 1953, Ken Richardson took the wheel of a Triumph TR2 along the Jabbeke highway in Belgium. The top speed of 124.889 mph not only beat the figures attained by Stirling Moss and Sheila van Damm in a Sunbeam Alpine earlier that year, but it also set a record for a two-litre production sports car. As such, MVC 575 is perhaps the most historically significant TR, and it is now for sale with Glen Hewett at a price of £300,000.

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The TR2 made its official debut at the 1953 Geneva Motor Show and, to ensure maximum publicity, Standard-Triumph’s MD Sir John Black decided that it would be speed tested at Jabbeke. The carriageway was a popular venue for measured speed trials by British car manufacturers - Healey, Jaguar, the Rover and MG all tested their worth on the hallowed tarmac.

Ken Richardson was the development engineer and driver for the BRM V16, and the gentleman who famously described the Sports 20TS prototype displayed at Earls Court in 1952 as ‘the most awful car I’ve ever driven in my life, it’s a bloody death trap’.

He was instrumental in the re-development of the TR2 before its launch in March 1953. The Ice Blue MVC 575 was fitted with a cockpit cover, a plastic windshield, spats for the rear wheels and an undershield to improve the streamlining.

To the British public of the pre-motorway era, a car reaching nearly 125 mph was virtual science-fiction, while many drivers regarded 70 mph as downright excessive. A 'Stop Press' in Motor Sport of June 1953 wrote: ‘We have waited a long time for the sports Triumph to be anything more than an exhibit on show stands, but this sensational news from Belgium makes it look as if the Coventry sports car is well worth waiting for’.

The TR was subsequently used as a factory test-bed before it was sold in October 1956 for £650 by Welbeck Motors – the new owner, one John Hedger, had part-exchanged a Ford Popular. Twelve years later, according to Mr. Hewett, its condition had deteriorated drastically, and by 1971 it had been dismantled.

In 1972 MVC 575 was sold in a boxed state and when Glen encountered it three years ago it was ‘absolutely dilapidate and rusted away’. The Facebook page JA charts the Triumph’s painstaking restoration process, with a further challenge being ‘there were so many so differences’ from a standard TR2.

The result is the return to full glory of one of the most historically important cars in the history of the British motor industry. Had the TR2 not succeeded, the future of the marque itself would have been in severe doubt. That victory 65 years prior impacted on motorists both in the UK and in the vital US export market.

Here is MVC 575 in action, captured for posterity on a PR film that now looks like a window into a parallel universe, with the stentorian announcer proclaiming, ‘it’s safe to predict a great future for new Triumph sports car’.

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