Upon its introduction, Triumph's TR7 was touted as the shape of things to come. In reality, things to come included third-world build quality and eventually shuttered factories. The company's V8 edition did prove a fitting finale however, and today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe TR8 could be the shape coming to your driveway, if its price proves nice.
You know, it seems that Chevy's Corvair and Ralph Nader will forever be inexorably linked, and it's hard to bring mention of one without the other. One of the funniest chapters in the Nader/GM saga was the consumer advocate's assertion that GM hired hoochie mammas to accost him in the hopes of getting pictures worthy of smearing his good name, or potentially blackmailing him. Unfortunately for GM, Nader confounded the alleged plot by being more interested in unionizing the call girls than conjugal unions with them,.
It's a lucky thing for the seller of yesterday's sweet 1966 Corvair Corsa Turbo none of you are like Ralph, and in fact an astounding 90% of you voted your willingness to jump in bed with that white coupe for its less than eight grand price. And that was even without the hoochie mammas.
Another brand that has been maligned - in this case by its very owners - is England's Triumph. I know this to be true, because I have been among those maligners. The Triumphs I have owned and driven have been amazing, remarkably engaging, and enjoyably tactile rides - when they ran. Frustratingly, no car, of all that I have owned, has ever let me down as frequently as my Triumphs. They say you aren't a true auto enthusiast until you have put up with the pain and pleasure of owning an Alfa Romeo. I would aver that the same applies to the products of Triumph Standard, at least those built following the company's swallowing by industrial ass-clown, British Leyland.
Triumph's sports cars, whether the beautiful and svelte Spitfire and GT6, or the larger TR range, have always been more of a hair shirt than the comparable products from MG or Austin Healey (fun fact, Donald Healey was once Triumph's Experimental manager), although by the late seventies, competitive pressures from Japan and uncompetitive exchange rates conspired to send all the antiquated British sports cars to their Tudor-styled graves. Triumph refused to give up however, introducing an all-new TR that proved a tour de force in wrong-headed ideas and a total mis-read of the market.
The TR7 looked nothing like the precedent TR6, which could trace its lineage all the way back to the TR2 of 1953. The new car was a clean sheet design, and as such afforded Triumph the opportunity to test building it out of radical, cost saving materials like paper mache and imagination. Modeled after a wedge of Swiss cheese (and seriously looking like one when the rust sets in), the styling of the TR7 was just as radical a departure from the buff-browed 6 that preceded it. It came initially in coupe form only as rumor had it the U.S. government was close to banning both convertibles and fun.
Well, the drop top survived that rumor mongering, and Triumph was able to take a can opener to the TR7 turning it from ugly duckling coupe into an oddly good looking swan of an open car. Around that same time, the company - which had maintained a dalliance with V8 GTs back in the early seventies with the lamentable Stag - decided to wedge Rover's (née Buick's) alloy V8 under the TR's wedge-shaped hood.
Today's 1980 TR8 was the result, and short of a Corvette, there is no car from this era quite like it. This one takes that roarty V8 base and goes a couple of notches higher with a full-on rebuild of the 3.5-litre V8 and additional mechanical strengthening - narrowed Firebird rear axle anyone? - to make this probably one of the best and quickest TR8s out there.
It likely stops as well as it goes as the seller claims not only 4-wheel discs, but a cabin adjustable front-rear proportioner for all your favorite Rockford moves. That engine originally came topped with a pair of canted Stromberg 175s which gave it the awkward appearance of a topless sunbather with walleyed nipples, but that has all gone the way of the British motor industry here, having been replaced with what looks like a single 2BBL down draught. Later cars than this had Lucas fuel injection, which was about as reliable as that company's electronic ignition - meaning not at all.
The rest of the car has been left remarkably stock, although the seat upholstery is no longer forever plaid. Not all of them were, some being a corduroy material, and either way that's easily changed. It also has received a nice set of Pannies and a roll bar, but keeps the horsey decal badging and hood louvers. The silver paint (which looks more like champagne in the pics) has all the luster you could ask, and the body is surprisingly whole.
The seller says the car has only 68,000 miles on it, which may seem remarkably few for a 31 year old car until you remember that hey, it's a Triumph. A car has to be able to run in order to put on the miles and that was never one of Triumph's strong points. This car seems to have plenty of strong points, having exorcised the demons of British Leyland from the major systems. I know we generally shy away from buying ‘someone else's project' but in this case it's less a project and more a reinforcement of future enjoyment. And for that, the seller is asking $10,900. Looking at TR8s being offered around the web, there are plenty from which to choose, although many - like this batman villain of a coupe for $3,900 - are much more frightening an automotive abyss in which to jump.
Better to spend a little more up front than a whole lot down the road a lot of people will tell you, and at $10,900, that little-more is near the top of the market for TR8s. The question for you is, should someone spend that much for this one? What do you think, is this seemingly well-sorted TR8 worth that sort of cash? Or, do you TR-Hate that price?
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