Triumph TR2 Liège-Rome-Liège
We are proud to offer this very special Triumph on the market. It is a unique vehicle with lots of competition history and creditable placings in the gruelling 1954 and 1955 Liège-Rome-Liège marathon rally. The car could be best described as a TR2 'Semi-Francorchamps'. It was a former TR2 rally car, fitted almost from new with a unique removable hard-top having the same lines as the true coachbuilt Francorchamps Coupé but without the latter's side glass windows and built-up doors. This Francorchamps model was built by Belgian car manufacturing company Imperia based in the town of Nessonveaux (near Spa Francorchamps racing circuit). They assembled CKD kits for Standard-Triumph destinated for the Belgian and Dutch market, and created their own luxurious TR2 Coupé version named the Francorchamps, with a panoramic rear window and clear sun-panel in the top. It was a very costly build process, and due to the high selling price only 22 examples were sold. For that reason, these Francorchamps versions are now very sought after by classic car collectors.
This TR2 was ordered by a keen belgian rally driver, Robert Leidgens, who was impressed with the TR's outright win in the 1954 RAC Rally. As he know Ken Richardson - the Standard-Triumph Competition Department chief - he was able to obtain rapid delivery (directly to the Imperia factory) of a fully-built TR2 at the end of June 1954. It was ordered as a RHD car as Leidgens felt that this would be easier for negotiating narrow mountain passes at speed. Apart from this, it was built to export specifications with metric instruments and being a 1954 model year it had the long doors. At Nessonveaux, the car was immediately equipped with 'Alfin' aluminium front brake drums, a Jaguar-style rear stop/number plate lamp and the manual Bowden-cable style of overdrive control as fitted to many Imperia-built TR2's. This gave overdrive to all 4 forward gears and had a clever catch preventing its engagement in reverse. It gave an instant change, control being by means of a miniature lever mounted near the gear lever.
The one thing that Leidgens did not have put on the car in 1954 was the unique hardtop, although Imperia did strengthen the TR's chassis considerably in anticipation of the rallying rought stuff to come. As soon as the car was ready, Leidgens set off on the 1954 Liège-Rome-Liège accompanied by his regular co-driver Freddy Rousselle. They finished 15th overall, which was an excellent result in one of the most gruelling of events : in the 1950's the "Liège" was no less than an outright marathon road race, including rough Alpine passes with potholes galore and precipitous drops on either side. The rally covered 5125 km - virtually non-stop - in 88 hours. No overnight halts or cissy things like that at all - just racing ! The cars averaged 56 kph for three and a half days, stopping only for fuel and calls of nature. In itself, finishing was a cause of major celebration and a sign of a strong and well-prepared car. Leidgens was very satisfied with his purchase, and campaigned it throughout 1954 and 1955 in many other rallies.
Prior to the 1955 Liège-Rome-Liège, the car went back to Imperia for fettling which included further beefing up of the chassis, fitting of the later 'short doors' to get the car up-to-date and the installation of the famous Francorchamps-style hardtop - thought to be the only one ever made. In the same 1955 "Liège" two Works cars were entered for Richardson-Heathcote and Gatsonides-Bourelly. Following the usual arduous course of flat-out motoring, Richardson's car came first in the 1300-2000 cc class, Leidgens was second and Gatsonides third. A proper 1-2-3 classification. In the overall classification the TR2's were 5th, 6th and 7th : the best result yet achieved by a British car. After this fantastic result, Leidgens was offered a Works drive, and the "Semi-Francorchamps" was sold.
The car went through several owners, and fortunately it retained its unique top. In 1982 it arrived in the hands of a real Triumph enthusiast who fully understood the importance of this unique car, and restored it to original specification and colour. It participated again in the 1999 Liège-Rome-Liège, and remained in important collections since.
Today this TR2 is still a very interesting car. It is in good order, but shows the age of the restoration with some small scratches in the paint and a nicely patinated interior. Technically, the car is in very good order and is 100% ready for use. The mechanical overdrive works well and the engine is powerful and offers a proper competition sound. The car is incredibly well documented with many period pictures and letters from Freddy Rousselle confirming the authenticity of this unique Triumph. The original 1955 Liège-Rome-Liège plaque is still with the car, as well as period articles about the car's performances in the Englebert Magazine. This is the kind of car which will be easily accepted for any important event in the world (Mille Miglia, Targa Florio Classica,...), and a unique collectors car as there is only one in the world with this specification.
Keyword Search Terms:Triumph, TR2, Impéria, Francorchamps, Liège-Rome-Liège, Leidgens, Rousselle, Mille Miglia
Joined April 2011
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