Monday, February 15, 2010

3 Triumph TRs

I was driving home late Saturday night when I passed a car hauler on the highway. It was carrying a newer Audi, a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Lexus of some sort. If I had just looked at that row of cars it would have just appeared to be a typical car carrier, hauling a typical load of used cars from a dealer or an auction. But it was not... The top row of cars were all Triumphs; a TR3, TR6 and either a TR7 or TR8. Inspiration for a blog post.

1960 Triumph TR3 - Most of us would call this car a TR3A. We do that to distinguish it from the earlier "small mouth" TR3 and later TR3B, with its TR4 running gear. Triumph never actually made such a distinction. All TR3s, no matter the grill or running gear were simply called a TR3.

Besides the newer (much nice looking, in my opinion) grill, the TR3A received exterior door handles, a locking trunk and front disc brakes (a first on a British roadster).

This car is an extremely nice, fully restored TR3A. Black over red is my favorite color combination for these cars.

Throughout the 1960s, the Brits sent us some incredible sports cars. There are very few that I wouldn't like to own (and quite a few that I have owned). However, if I were to build a statue honoring British sports cars, the car represented would be a TR3A. More affordable than a Healey or Jag, better looking than an MG and more popular than a Sunbeam or Lotus, it is, in my eyes, the iconic British roadster.

Located in Bal Harbour, FL, click here to see the eBay listing. It includes a ton of clear, large pictures.

1974 Triumph TR6 - The TR3A may be the iconic British roadster in my eyes, but the TR6 blew it into the weeds both sales-wise and performance-wise. Triumph built close to 100,000 of these cars.

The TR6 was the follow-up to the TR5 / TR250, which were essentially TR4s with TR6 drivetrains. Like the TR4 / TR5 / TR250, it was designed by Karmann of Germany. It had a more aggressive, but classier look than the earlier TRs.

The detoxed 6 cylinder engine we received here in the US didn't make the car very quick off the line, but it was smooth and, with the optional overdrive unit, was a much better highway cruiser than the earlier 4 cylinder cars.

The car being offered on eBay is being describer by the seller as being "as close to a brand new TR-6 as you can find". That might not be an exaggeration. The amount of work done to this car is phenomenal.

This car is also located in Florida, in Coconut Grove. Click here to see the eBay listing.

1980 Triumph TR7 - I usually get some heat when I write about the TR7. Yes, I like them. I think they're good looking and, believe it or not, almost practical.

Not everyone agrees with me. An article posted on Austin Rover Online tells about Giorgetto Giugiaro's first impression of the car...

"In an amusing tale that has now entered into the folklore of motoring history, it was Giorgetto Giugiaro that summed up the feelings of many people: On his first viewing of the car at the Geneva motor show in 1975, he is said to have paused to take a long look at the TR7. Pondering its styling, he is said to have looked at it in a puzzled way and then walked around the car, only to say, “Oh my God! They've done it to the other side as well.” This was no doubt a reference to the fact that in the development of new model styling, often different styling solutions are tried out on both sides of a clay model of the car – and Giugaro obviously thought that the TR7 looked so bizarre that it could in no way be a production car!"

There were two big problems with the TR7 when it was introduced in 1975. First of all, it was a hardtop. Triumph was under the impression that soon to be enacted US safety laws would ban convertibles. Anticipating that, Triumph designed the TR7 to be a hardtop. The second, more serious problem, was the initial build quality. Originally built at BL's factory in Speke, Liverpool, the build quality was atrocious.

In 1979, BL, now realizing that convertibles were not going to be illegal in the US, introduced the TR7 "Drophead". They also moved production to their Coventry plant and build quality improved.

OK, so why do I like these? The convertible is a nice looking car. Triumph's slogan for the TR7 was "The Shape of Things to Come" and, if you look at all the other wedge shaped, pop-up headlight cars that came out during the 70s and 80s, it really was. It doesn't have the classic look of the TR3 and it's not as classy as the TR6, but compare it to other 1970s cars and it really doesn't look bad. It has aged well.

The TR7 was designed to be a modern sports car. It's car that was meant to compete with a Datsun Z or Fiat X1/9. The engine, while not as powerful as the TR6's, is quick enough and, with a 5 speed, relatively economical. The heat and A/C are almost up to today's standards as is the dashboard layout. The seats are tolerable. Any inherent / initial problems the TR7 had have all been addressed by owners and / or the aftermarket. You really could drive a TR7 everyday.

This car appears to be in very good condition. Located in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, click here to see the eBay listing.

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