‘High Speed Pursuit’ 1962 Triumph TR4 Police Cruiser ($79,000)
Photography by Robbert Alblas
Written by Andrew Golseth
1962 Triumph TR4 Police Car
- Location: Netherlands
- Chassis No.: CT7571-O
- Engine No.: CT38815E
- Engine: 2,138 cc inline four-cylinder
- Transmission: Four-speed manual
- Mileage: 5056 post-restoration
- Color: White / Black vinyl
- Last remaining Triumph TR4 Police Car
Reporting for Duty
The 1960s saw the rise and refinement of the British sports car. Cars were simply getting better and faster and proved to be capable of outrunning most vehicles on early 1960’s roadways—including the police. With so many quick Brit sports cars emerging in period, some law enforcement agencies realized they were outpaced by up-to-no-good baddies with modern performance cars.
One such concerned station was the Southend on Sea County Borough Constabulary of Essex, England. Superintendent Bill Burles responded by ordering this 1962 Triumph TR4 from Easton Automobiles in May 1962. The white roadster was charged with the task of filling a newly allocated position: the “Fast Pursuit Car.” Obviously, the unmarked factory fresh civilian TR4 would need to be brought up to Constable cruiser specifications.
Modified at the Constable’s own workshop, the civilian TR4 was fitted with an illuminated front “POLICE” sign, trunk mounted “STOP” sign, fender mirrors, Winkworth bell, air horns, reverse light, two front bumper set flood lights, hand operated spot lamp mounted to the passenger side windscreen frame, and a PYE communication dispatch radio.
Ready for duty, the TR4 promptly did just that working seven days a week. Officers lucky enough to wheel the sporty cruiser always opted to patrol with the top down while wearing chin strap caps—why can’t the CHP be this cool? Patrolling almost nonstop, the Fast Pursuit Car worked double shifts in varying combinations of 9am to 5pm, 5pm to 1am, and/or 7pm to 3am. Averaging more than 150 miles per day, the car racked up more than 1,000 miles every week!
Logging so much drive time, the car incurred wear and tear quickly. Most notably, it was common practice to hold onto the underside of the buckets during pursuits, as the car didn’t have seatbelts. This go-to “safety” precaution eventually took a toll causing the seat bracket anchor bolts to shear from the floorboard. The seats were removed and robust floor pan plates were welded in place, the seats were reinstalled, and safety belts were fitted.
The TR4 proved to be great at more than just chasing down speedy suspects. During one particularly icy winter day, a special request came in from the local Southend Hospital. A patient was urgently in need of a specific pharmaceutical and the closest supply was at a London-based hospital. Long before medical helicopters became standard, the TR4 was the fastest in the fleet, so it was summoned for this very time sensitive delivery. Despite the chilling conditions, a brave officer promptly hopped in the Triumph and hauled ass to pickup and dropoff the needed drugs. Thanks to the fast response, the patient in need received the required medication. Mission accomplished.
After a long law enforcement career, the Triumph was retired from duty. The car traded hands several times until it wound up in the hands of Triumph specialist Neil Revington who performed a complete body-off restoration in 2000.
Since its retirement, this Triumph TR4 Police Car, 4100 HJ, has lived an easier life since is full nuts and bolts restoration that began in 2000. The car has been restored to exacting standards at the hands of Triumph specialists and oolice historians (more details in Restoration).
The car does not have its original engine unit, as police service is strenuous on any motor. The period correct I-4 motor with ~5k miles on it since its restoration. 4100 HJ was featured on the cover of ‘Advanced Driving Explained’ and was recreated by Vanguard as a special edition model car.
We’ve broken down the cars condition by section:
- High quality factory non-metallic white respray
- Complete Constabulary Fast Pursuit Car equipment
- Highly original trim in excellent condition
- Usual, but very small signs of road use
- Some small nicks on front paint and grill
- Instrumentation working correctly and cluster in good condition
- Steering wheel in good condition (wheel + metal)
- Carpeting in good condition
- Fitted with correct police equipment
- Seats have light creasing
- Original powertrain rebuilt for turnkey reliability
- No leaks, unusual noises, or issues to tend to
- None stated/known
This Triumph TR4 has been sympathetically restored back to its Southend on Sea County Borough Constabulary configuration, which took long term dedication to execute. When the car was decommissioned from policing in the 1970s, the majority of the added law enforcement equipment was removed—for obvious reasons.
Some original police equipment remained with the car but what was missing was sourced from Police Car United Kingdom. After “putting on the uniform” again, the Triumph was cordially invited to the Transport Corp at the Goodwood Revival.
This car was restored by Neil Revinton of Revington TR Restorations (also restored the Triumph TR5 Prototype) slowly began in 2000.
Tending to the bodywork first, Neil quickly realized a rather obscure discrepancy upon dismantling. Incorrect TR5/6 model B-posts and doors revealed the car, at some point, had previously been repaired and restored. The rest of the bodywork was intact, undamaged, and numbers matching. Neil swapped out the incorrect panels for the correct TR4 units and completed the body restoration.
It wouldn’t be until early 2009 that Neil rebuilt the entire drivetrain and powertrain. Now that the car was resurrected as a clean canvass stock Triumph TR4, the car was ready to be reunited with its former bobby on the beat character, which turned out to be another challenge.
How does one source such specific and authentic period correct cop car equipment? Well, thankfully the Police Federation Historic Vehicle Club is a thing. Aside from the Winkworth bell still in place, the historic copper club was able to supply all of the other gizmos—to include the rear signals and PYE radio.
Documentation included in the sale:
- Ownership history/documents
- BMIHT Certificate (British Motor Museum)
- Documentation of police equipment
- Official police paperwork/documents
- Photo album documenting Constabulary career
- Official police helment
- 1:43 scale model of the car
- 1962 – Mid 1960s | Southend on Sea County Borough Constabulary | UK
- Mid 1960s – Late 1970s | Unknown | UK
- Late 1970s – Mid 1980s | Ernie Cole | UK
- Mid 1980s – 2013 | Revington TR Restorations | UK
- 2013 – 2015 | Mark Simpson | UK
- 2015 – Current | G.P. Van’t Hoff | Netherlands
A handful of Triumphs were converted for law enforcement use but this is believed to be the last remaining example in existence. Heavily documented, sympathetically restored, and toting a rich history, this resurrected TR4 police car offers a unique story adding to an already enticing classic British roadster.
MEET THE SELLER
This car is for sale by private enthusiast Gert Paul van’t Hoff of Rotterdam, Netherlands.