Back when today’s Nice Price or No Dice TR7 was introduced, advertisements called its wedge design the “shape of things to come.” That was ironic since Triumph as a whole would be gone just a decade later. Let’s see what shape this leftover might be in.
While Miata may always be the answer, yesterday’s 2001 Mercedes-Benz SLK230 seemed a viable candidate for those seeking a slightly different solution. At $5,200 it certainly cost old Miata money, and that was enough to earn the convertible Benz a solid 83 percent Nice Price win.
Let’s stick with the theme of European two-seaters today, but with the added twist of going old school and being baked-beans-for-breakfast British.
Now, I realize that calling today’s 1976 Triumph TR7 old school is a bit of a misnomer. That’s because even though the car is fully 45 years old, the TR7 and its antecedent TR8 sibling were clean-sheet cars that had little or nothing in common with the hair shirt roadsters that make up the model line’s earlier editions.
The TR7 was then a new design and had America in mind. That’s why it wears garishly large integrated bumpers and initially came as only a coupe, anticipating U.S. safety regulations. In fact, when the TR7 made its debut here in the States in 1975, the model’s initial popularity was so great that its home-market debut had to be delayed so that production could be tapped to meet U.S. demand.
The car’s aggressive wedge shape was penned by British Leyland stylist Harry Mann and drove into funny triangular garages in some of the car’s advertisements. That design put it in good stead to go up against competition like Porsche’s 924 and the so-old-it-farts-dust MGB. Eventually, British Leyland’s financial woes would put an end to the TR line. The Triumph brand followed it into the grave not too long after.
This TR7, in respray-red over a black vinyl interior, has a couple of major mechanical updates that should ensure it to have plenty of life left. These include a Buick 231-CID V6 and a Borg Warner T5 five-speed transmission. Per the ad’s description, both have been professionally installed and a quick gander at the engine bay shows no major monkey business as well as what looks to be the world’s longest upper radiator hose.
The Buick motor is no stranger to adoption, the tooling having at one time been sold to AMC for use in Jeep models. Needing a smaller, relatively efficient engine to counter the ’70s fuel crisis, General Motors bought the tooling back and put the V6 into production in the same Flint factory where it had originally seen production. Back then the 231 only made 110 horsepower. That’s not much by today’s standards, but it was substantially more than the stock Triumph 2-liter’s 92 horses.
While it may not be very quick, this TR7’s shape and that red paint will ensure that it stands out. There are very few of these cars left on the road today, as they have never achieved the interest enjoyed by their predecessors. For the right person, however, this could be a fun, and wildly unique get-about car.
The ad says that the drivetrain works as it should, as do all the lights, including the cool pop-up headlamps. The only thing not working seems to be the horn, which is operated in traditional British fashion by pushing in on the end of the turn-signal stalk. The interior is a bit beat up, with covers over the seats and what look to be machine screws holding the steering wheel together. Replacement wheels can still be had on eBay so that might make for a quick and cheap weekend sprucing project for a new owner. The rest of the interior seems to have held up reasonably well if you don’t mind the puckering plastic on the door cards or the inscrutable switchgear.
There appears to be no rust on the car and just a couple of minor blemishes in the bodywork. The title is clean and the car carries 51,000 miles on the chassis with an unknown amount on the engine.
With an asking price of $2,750, this is obviously one car that escaped the batshit pricing bubble the rest of us are living under at the moment. It’s positioned by the seller as either a solid daily driver — as long as you don’t live anywhere where air conditioning is mandatory — or as a restoration project. With both of those options in mind, what’s your take on this modded TR7 and that $2,750 asking price? Does that feel like a fair deal? Or, is this just too old and creaky a car for either option to be viable?
H/T to Michael Sweeney for the hookup!
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