By most accounts, only 329 of the hand-formed bodied TR3s were ever built – known as the Triumph Italia 2000 Coupé. Designed by Giovanni Michelotti and built by Alfredo Vignale in Turin, under contract to Ruffino S.p.A. Industria Construzione Automobile of Naples – it was thought that these cars would appeal to people willing to spend more for the dependability and ease of obtaining stock mechanical parts, but who wanted a better looking car than the standard Triumph - "Italian bodywork at its best, British tradition in sports car engineering at its finest.”
At the time, Signore Salvatore Ruffino was the managing Director of CESAC, the Italian company that distributed Standard-Triumph in Italy. He approached Standard-Triumph to supply chassis and mechanical components to build 1,000 cars. The introduction of the closed-top, two seater was well received at the 1958 Turin Motor Show – “Italian artistry and British craftsmanship have come together and produced this new, superlative Italia 2000 Coupé.”
Vignale began production in July 1959 with only a few changes to the original – rather than a slanting nose and covered glass headlights displayed on the prototype, a look similar to Michelotti’s Maserati 3500 design was produced. And although the two prototypes had some aluminum body panels, all Italias used steel. Cars came through with Ascari mufflers with a distinctive and melodious tone, and the original Triumph electric overdrive switch was moved from its left-hand dash-mounted position to an under-dash spot right above the gear shift, providing faster, more convenient downshifting out of overdrive in turns at high speeds.
Source: Wikipedia, 2011