In 1962 a brand new Triumph TR4 was ordered by the Southend on Sea County Borough Constabulary in Essex, England. It was dressed in some subtle police livery then sent out on active duty covering multiple shifts a day and over 1000 miles a week.
The ’60s were the golden age of the British sports car, the E-type was introduced, Jaguar Mark 2 production was in full swing, the Aston Martin DB5 was introduced, and the Lotus Elan, the MGB, the Sunbeam Tiger, TVR Tuscan, and Triumph TR4 were all launched – and that’s not even the full list. This British sports car renaissance had started in the post-WWII era but by the ’60s it had become a serious problem for the police of the United Kingdom, as their standard issue cars were woefully inadequate at anything that resembled a high speed pursuit.
The Jaguar Mark 2 was a particular favourite amongst bank robbers, and it had plenty of boot space, could comfortably seat 5 adult males wearing balaclavas, and thanks to its 3.4 or 3.8 litre inline-6 with DOHC it could cheerfully outrun any police officer in Britain – despite not technically being a sports car at all.
A few police departments in the UK experimented with buying performance roadsters, then using them for highway patrol and high speed pursuits. The Triumph TR4 you see here was bought by the local police in Southend on Sea and customised in their own workshop – new police lights were added front and back along with a radio, spotlights, fender mirrors, a Winkworth bell, air horns, a reverse light, and a hand operated spot light.
The TR4 was pressed into immediate service chasing down crims on Britain’s motorways, apprehending bank robbers in their Mark 2s, and even racing up to London to collect life saving medication for hospital patients in Essex.
Unsurprisingly, the car covered significant mileage in its years as a police service vehicle. Since its retirement it passed through private ownership before landing in the collection of Neil Revinton of Revington TR Restorations who completed a full nut and bolt, body-off restoration.
It’s now being offered for sale via the team at Petrolicious, it has a sticker price of $79,000 USD and comes with a litany of receipts and paperwork, a full record of its restoration and early life as a police officer, as well as the toy car that was made for a number of years based on it. If you’d like to read more or take the TR4 home, you can click here to visit its listing.
Photography by Robbert Alblas