Friday, November 13, 2009

14,000 Mile 1979 Triumph TR7... Coupe

The TR7 hardtop is the least loved of all the Triumph TR sports cars.

The Triumph TR3 through TR6 were iconic sports cars. The TR3 featured the classic cut down doors and the TR4, TR5 (TR250) and the TR6 were beautiful, classy, Micholetti designed roadsters. The TR7, penned by BL's Harris Mann, couldn't have been more different. It was wedge shaped (Triumph advertised it as "The Shape of Things to Come") and it was a hardtop.

The hardtop was not entirely Triumph's fault. In the 1970s, it looked like the US Congress was going to ban convertibles. Triumph was anticipating this and designed the TR7 as a hardtop. Unfortunately for Triumph (but fortunately for the US), the law didn't go through and they were stuck selling a hardtop.

The TR7 was originally built at BL's Speke factory. Quality control was pitiful, and from the get-go the car earned a reputation for being poorly built and unreliable.

By 1979 TR7 production had moved from Speke to Coventry and quality improved. (It also received a much needed 5 speed transmission.) Also in 1979, Triumph introduced a convertible version of the TR7. In every way it was what the TR7 should have been from the beginning, but it was too late to undo the damage the early coupes had done to Triumph's reputation. In 1981 the TR7 was discontinued. It the last Triumph sports car to be built.

I have argued (and continue to do so, even though most people tell me to "shut up" and walk away) that the TR7 was not a bad car, in theory. It was a modern, much needed change in direction for British sports cars. But when I say that, I'm talking about the roadster, not the coupe. Even I have a hard time liking the coupe.

This car is unrestored and has a few minor flaws. It comes with "virtually all original paperwork, including the original dealership sales invoice, Jaguar Rover Triumph Inc. $1,000 retail customer rebate claim form, and many service records".

This is going to be an interesting auction to watch. Under normal circumstances, a 30 year old, 14,000 mile, unrestored British sports car would be something of a big deal to enthusiasts. But this is a TR7 and a hardtop. Will the enthusiasts care?

Located in Shaker Heights, OH, find the eBay listing here.

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