Triumph TR-250K

250K 4 2.jpg

You remember the BRE Hino Samurai, right? Car of the Day #10? If not, take a look at it after reading about today's machine.

They're related in many ways, and from the same era—not to mention same designer. And, sadly, they both didn't achieve what their creators had hoped.

But, man, do they look awesome today.

It all started with a friendship between racer (and former SCCA Champion) R.W. "Kas" Kastner and Peter Brock. Kastner is now known for his immense experience with racing Triumphs, as well as managing successful racing teams. 

Brock has a resume that'd make any car guy jealous—besides penning the lines of the first Corvette Sting Ray, he designed the Shelby Daytona Coupe, led Datsun to many sports car racing wins, and… well, follow the source link below and see for yourself.

At the time, Kastner was Triumph's competition manager in the United States and, knowing his friend Brock's abilities, spoke regularly on what the ideal Brock-designed Triumph race car would look like. After a call to visit the company's UK headquarters, Kastner saw an opportunity and asked Brock to prepare a last-minute sketch of their idea for a new road racing Triumph.

triumph-tr-250k.jpg

Apparently, Brock took just 45 minutes to get Kastner the drawing: a sleek, low, futuristic roadster that would conceal the (relatively speaking) ageing Triumph mechanicals underneath.

Before flying to England, Kastner called in a favour from Leon Mandel, the editor of Car and Driver: "If I get this car built, will you give me the cover of the Sebring issue next spring?"

250K 6 2.jpg

A deal was struck, and Kastner had the ammunition he needed to convince Triumph executives to build and race Brock's design at the 1968 Sebring 12 Hour race. Budget? Just $25,000.

Based on a number of Triumph models, the TR-250K was assembled with production in mind: TR4A frame, carbureted 2.5-litre* 6-cylinder TR-250 engine (that was set back nearly a foot in the chassis, making it a mid-front engine car), and TR4A suspension components upgraded for racing duties.

The body was all alloy, with a BRE Hino Samurai windshield and driver-adjustable rear spoiler.

Even though it was a race car through and through—with no real need to develop the interior—it was still a challenge to finish the car in time, and start the 1968 12 Hours of Sebring.

The problem? It was entered in the Prototype class against the dominating Porsche 907, one of cars that would win overall.

triumph-tr-250k.jpg

But of course, the car didn't win. If it did, maybe Triumph would have given the project more serious thought. It seems as though with the meagre budget provided to Kastner, maybe the Brits weren't pleased that an American-based organization was trying to pull Triumph into the future.

As luck would have it, the one and only TR-250K would retire after suspension failure. It was never going to be fast enough for victory, though, as teething issues kept the car from running to its full potential. It would never race again…

triumph-tr-250k.jpg

…in period. After being bought and sold a few times, the car was acquired by a sympathetic owner, who restored it to its former glory and races it to this day. Not bad for a little orphan that never performed to its potential.

If you're looking for racing's "what-ifs," you know, the 1968 12 Hours of Sebring is not a bad place to start. But that's a story for another day.

Sources / Recommended reading

* Correction: Mervyn wrote in to note that the TR-250 used a 2.5-litre engine, and not a 2.0-litre engine, as I had specified.