Sunday, February 1, 2009

Triumph TR7 / Triumph TR8 For Sale on eBay

When British Leyland introduced the Triumph TR7 in 1975 it was meant to be a thoroughly modern car; a TR that finally didn't trace its styling and engineering roots back to the 50s. It immediately became controversial.

It's wedge shaped styling repulsed many Triumph purists. The engine, while modern and efficient, was a 4 cylinder and less sporty than the 6 that was found in the previous TR, the TR6. In an era when most new sports cars had 5 speed transmissions, it came with only a 4 speed. To makes matter worse, it was, at first, only available as a coupe. In the 1970s it looked very likely that the US Congress would outlaw convertibles. British Leyland (and other manufacturers) did the prudent thing and stopped designing new convertibles. On top of all that, for the first few years, the TR7 was poorly built.

Things changed in 1979. TR7s were now built at the Coventry plant and build quality improved. It also had a 5 speed transmission and a new differential. Best of all, because Congress never got around to outlawing them, they built a TR7 convertible. There was little controversy about the styling now, the TR7 convertible looked great. Unfortunately, the reputation of the earlier cars had caught up with Triumph, and sales didn't improve.

In 1980 Triumph made things really interesting. They dropped the Rover 3.5 liter V8 into the TR7 and created the TR8. While it didn't have the raw, neck snapping power of earlier British V8 sports cars such the AC Cobra or Sunbeam Tiger, the TR8 hit 60 MPH in 8.5 seconds and had enough power in any gear to make it extremely fun to drive. (This was the era of power strangling emissions controls - the technology still being in its infancy - so an 8.5 second 0 - 60 time wasn't too bad. The 1980 350 Corvette only managed to get to 60 MPH in 8.1 seconds, for instance) With its modern suspension and the lightweight aluminum V8, the TR8 handled much better than the Tiger or the Cobra ever could. Triumph made 2800 TR8s before, in 1981, pulling the plug on both the TR7 and TR8, along with their entire North American operations.

Compared to earlier TRs, the TR7 and TR8 are modern sports cars. They are roomy, the dash is well laid out (but made of cheap plastic), the seats are comfortable and the climate control system actually works. Just as with any British sports car you can expect some electrical problems and the car should be thoroughly checked for rust.
Parts are still easy to come by and prices are quite reasonable.

Because of their reputation and because Triumph purists never really accepted them, the TR7 and the TR8 were selling for next to nothing for quite awhile. That's starting to change, but the prices, for what you're getting, are still quite reasonable.

Located in NY, the TR7 listed on eBay (pictured above) is a driver and, based on the pictures, appears to be in great shape. The seller didn't write much of a description, so e-mail him with any questions. Click here for this TR7 listing.

The TR8, located in Pennsylvania, needs a bit of work, but nothing major, and may turn out to be a real bargain. Again, there's not much of a description, so e-mail the seller with questions. Click here to see the listing.

This may be the right time to buy one of these very usable British sports car at a reasonable price.

For more info on the TR7 and TR8, check out The World Wide Wedge, a well laid out and informative site.

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