so, after a lot of committee work they came up with a curate’s egg
Here in England there is a long tradition of curious and interesting sports cars, with a few names being right at the top of the list when it comes to cars the classic enthusiast admires. Sadly, the Triumph TR7 was never a car to put stars in the eyes. Mostly that was because it was so different to it’s better-looking and more hairy-chested predecessors.
The original TR7 was a two-seat fixed-head coupe, powered by an overhead-cam four that churned out some 100 bhp. Underneath was a fairly sophisticated suspension for the time, bolted to an incredibly strong monocoque, which made the little car heavy at just over a ton. (Trust me, if you are ever going to roll a sports car, and expect to live through it, then make it a TR7.) But, deep down, the TR7 was a great car waiting to get out from under something far more ordinary.
The TR7 had two basic problems; #1 it wasn’t a convertible #2 it was underpowered for its weight. Despite that, and despite its terrible build quality it sold very well in the USA.
To give the TR7 more power the designers chose to drop in a 150 bhp version of the Rover / Buick 215 cu in aluminium V8, producing what was either a TR7 V8, or a Triumph TR8, (depending on who you talk to). This thing went like
shit off a shovel. Then, to make it more appealing to Californians the steel roof was chopped off. The thing was, the original TR7 was so strong that not at lot of additional strengthening was needed to compensate for the lack of a roof and those hefty C pillars.
What resulted was a pretty little proper sports car that was fabulous to drive, so long as you remembered all that weight up front.
I’ve never driven a TR8, but I did like its less powerful TR7 FHC variant. Imagine a stiffer and more powerful MGB and you will have an idea. The ohc four up-front revs better than the venerable B series four-pot, and the shorter wheel-base makes the TR7 more nimble.
If you want one of these things, then first of all they are rare. The TR8 drophead is a rare as hen’s teeth. Finding one in as good condition as the gold number pictured here could take a very long time indeed. Outside of California any un-restored example is likely to be infested with rust. Any original car is likely to have problems with the electrics, cooling, gearbox, rear axle, suspension….. But do not let that put you off. Given a decent garage / workshop I could rebuild / build one of these things from the front spoiler backwards. Just about everything is available, and there are thousands of bits languishing from other British Leyland cars of the era. In fact you could take a rotten TR7 FHC shell and build a convertible with as much performance as you want / dare.
Some say the Triumph TR7 is like a curate’s egg, good in parts. And that only a hairdresser would want to own one. All I know is that the TR7 intrigues me ~ in any form it’s like a beautiful woman hiding her charms.
you might want to do something about that ‘period’ interior upholstery