PLACENTIA, CA – If you’re a daddy’s girl like me, this story will get to you, a story about a girl, her dad, and an amazing little car.In past Featured Motor Doll segments, I’ve written about motorcycles and muscle cars, hot rods and pure classics. We’ve met girls who have been wrenching their rides for years, and burning up roads. Now let’s mix it up a bit, with both the car, and the girl.

Meet Dana Dencklau, who is at the beginning of her motoring adventures with this fabulous 1963 Triumph TR3B. While being behind the wheel of this beauty may be new to her, the car itself, is not. And oh what a car it is!I’m so thrilled to write about a Triumph. It’s no secret I love them, both the cars and the motorcycles. Senior year in high school, I bought a ’69 Triumph GT6, and even though it had major issues, I loved that little car. Our family had other Triumphs as well, including a project TR3, which was sold during a move before ever becoming a rolling chassis–which kills me. Oh, would I LOVE to have that car.

So when I found out Dana had a TR3 tucked in her garage, I had to know more.

The TR has been in Dana’s family since it was new. Her dad really wanted a Jaguar XKE (don’t we all!!), but they were too pricey, so he instead bought a TR3, a white one, from Continental Motors in Plainfield, N.J. for $3,000.

Right off, he installed custom made roll bar and a shoulder harness from a Volvo, along with a race type seat belt, and good thing he did. About a week after buying the car, a guy in a Volkswagen crossed several lanes of traffic to get from his mailbox to his driveway, cutting right in the path of Dana’s dad and his TR3. In his words:

It was raining and the road was very slippery. I threw the car sideways in an effort to avoid him, but hit him broadside. I was not injured, but the Triumph was totaled.  

That didn’t stop him. He went over to the local Triumph dealer–who wanted out of the Triumph biz–and traded straight across: the totaled car and the insurance check, for the new black Triumph, the one Dana has today. He loved the car for being…

…the last true sports car without roll up windows. When you drive that car it is a part of you. You are not just along for the ride. 

He got his SCCA license and a helmet, and competed in several auto cross events, but after starting his Racing Tire business, he no longer had time for it, so the TR3 got parked.

Over the years, it went in and out of the garage, until finally, sometime in the 80s, the car got parked again and sat until 2010, when he moved from Florida to San Felipe, Mexico, and dropped the Triumph off with Dana.

That’s where her story begins.

Dana always loved the Triumph, even though her dad joked how all the women in his life hated it.

He would pick me up from my mom’s when I was in elementary school (they were divorced) and we would drive home down PCH from Irvine to Huntington Beach. It was the best thing ever! It was almost like a compete feeling of freedom, peaceful. No one had anything like it. That was the only thing of his I ever wanted. It reminded me of our time together. 

The car didn’t run, and even if it did, Dana had little experience driving stick shift, and wasn’t comfortable trying.

I don’t know why it freaks me out so much… I think because I’m more afraid something will happen to the car. I know I have an unreasonable fear about it. My goal is now in the spring to start trying again and summer… I just need to do it, and not overthink it. I have built it up too much.

I totally get where Dana’s coming from. When my feller first brought home my Sporty, the bike terrified me. I built it up in my head of being a big, scary beast, one I would never master. It sat in the garage for a long time before I finally gave it a go. Now? I’m shocked it scared me the way it did. I’ve ridden that thing cross country and back, so don’t worry, Dana. Once you start driving the TR, you’ll wonder why you ever doubted yourself. And you’ll have a blast!

Shortly after Dana got the car, Simo came into her life (they’re now engaged!!). Dana’s guy Simo is a motorcycle guy, a really great guy, the kind of guy everyone likes the minute they meet him. The Triumph was a big factor in the beginning of their relationship. On their first date, he saw the car sitting in the garage and asked about it.

It had just been delivered a few months before and did not run. Within a few weeks he had someone pick it up (which freaked me out!), but not long after, had it up and runnin’!  

They’ve since rebuilt the clutch and brakes, redone the exhaust, fuel tank, radiator, and glass, bead blasted the magnesium wheels, re-upholstered the seats, installed the carpet kit, and put in a houndstooth headliner. As far the exterior? She’s still deciding on whether to repaint, or leave the patina.

 don’t think I want it to be perfect, I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. It would be fun do the racing stripe maybe… Like my dad had. 

Dana and her TR3

I agree. I think there’s something special about patina, a reminder of the car’s history.

Motorcycle’s have also become part of Dana’s world now.

Sometimes there’s undue pressure for girls to pilot their own rather than be passenger, but honestly, I have a great deal of respect for girls who ride pillion. It scares the hell out of me to perch on a fender pad, with no back rest, and no handlebars to grab onto. Dana has had some fantastic times riding with her man.

I enjoy being a passenger, it’s exciting. Being on the bike with my fella is an adventure. 

He would like Dana to learn to ride as well, and she’s not opposed. He bought a 1969 Triumph for her, keeping with the Triumph theme, so perhaps we will someday see Dana and this crazy chopper rolling along as well.

For sure, you will see her behind the wheel of her Triumph TR3, cruising PCH, and remembering back to the days as a little girl when she sat next to her dad, and felt like the coolest kid in town. Maybe she’ll even take him for a ride someday.

Until next time…

Later gators!

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