She was in grammar school in the 1970s when one day she was looking through old family pictures when one caught her eye.
In that photograph was her uncle Frank beside a powder blue 1959 Triumph TR3A sports car. “It looked like a baby Jaguar,” she remembers. “Right then I knew one day I would own one.”
A couple of decades passed before she was in a position to commence a search for a Triumph like the one her Uncle Frank had. A few similar cars were located, but they did not fulfill her requirements.
After three years of unsuccessful searching, she met a man who was very knowledgeable about Triumph sports cars. He advised her that she should be looking for a more powerful TR3B model manufactured only in 1962 and in limited numbers.
She accepted his expert advice and began pursuing a rare 1962 TR3B. She says that less than 3,000 such cars were built, all destined for the United States. Her hunt proved to be fruitless.
Then she joined a Triumph club near her home in Clifton, N.J. At the first club meeting she was asked what kind of car she had. When she replied that she had none but had joined the club to find a 1962 Triumph TR3B several of the club members in attendance wished her, “good luck.”
Those wishes came true and she began to get solid leads, but the Triumph TR3B sports cars were purchased by other enthusiasts just before Valentine could make an offer. In November 2006 a beautiful TR3B that had undergone a three-year restoration from 1994 to 1997 was offered for sale in Texas.
Valentine enlisted the aid of her cousin in Dallas. He inspected the vehicle and reported that it was in perfect condition. This time she was there first but the non-negotiable price was too high. A man from Ohio purchased the perfect TR3B.
A year later she saw that same car for sale again. She verified that it was the car her cousin had inspected in Texas. It had not been driven and had spent the last year in a garage. The Ohio owner was in a position where he had to sell the car and was prepared to sell it for less than what he had paid.
“In December 2007 I drove out from New Jersey in a snow storm to see the car,” Valentine says.
When she first saw it Valentine recognized the similarity to her Uncle Frank’s car. The 12-foot, 7-inch-long car was powder blue. The dark blue upholstery has white piping. The top is also white. The side curtains are stored in the trunk. Beneath the engine hood is the 2.2-liter, 104-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. Power is transferred to the rear wheels through a synchronized four-speed transmission with overdrive.
She paid for the car and arranged to have it trucked home to New Jersey. For several months she shopped for a bargain transporter. Finally the seller, who was tiring of storing the car, told her that he had found a low-cost transporter if she was interested.
She was interested and soon the car arrived. The 1962 Triumph rolled off the truck on its 88-inch wheelbase. The original steel wheels have been replaced with period-appropriate chrome-plated 48-spoke wheels.
Valentine says that her Triumph was built May 1962 as a left-hand-drive vehicle. The curb weight was 1,993 pounds. With accessories including a dashboard-mounted map light, as well as an ashtray under the dashboard, the Triumph is well-equipped. Additionally, an AM/FM Motorola radio nestles in the dash.
“I also have the optional rear bench seat,” Valentine says. “It’s way cool even though no one fits back there,” she says.
Since acquiring her Triumph, Valentine says, “I’ve had it up to 65 mph and I could do more.”
Valentine stands 5-feet, 2.5-inches tall and could barely depress the clutch fully when she first tried to drive her car. That problem has been solved. She now wears platform high heel shoes when driving.
“It’s a blast and a hoot to drive,” she says enthusiastically. “This car is older than I am and in better shape.” — Vern Parker, Motor Matters