Rare nice survivor Triumph TR7

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Triumph
The Triumph TR7 introduced a new kind of wedge design

The mid-1970s were a difficult time for fans of British sports cars. Technology had moved forward and the British sports car industry lacked the necessary funds to compete against such new cars as the Datsun Z and Toyota Celica.

As a result, the British continued to build the cars of a decade earlier, and while these cars – MGB, MG Midget, Triumph Spitfire, Triumph TR6, etc. – sold reasonably well, they were not at all competitive against the newer sports car designs.

In a last-ditch effort to create a new-style sports car, British Leyland created the Triumph TR7, which was advertised as “The Shape of Things To Come.” This wedge shape was a completely different design than any Triumph that came before, and the last new sports car (along with the V8-powered TR8 version) sold by the company.

Triumph
The TR7 retains its original Victory Edition graphics

When it was new, the TR7 was well-reviewed by automotive journalists but not welcomed by the British sports car faithful. The TR7 was just too different from what had come before and seemed to be an affront.

What those faithful failed to realize is that the TR7 is quite possibly the best-handling Triumph ever built. The TR7 also had excellent ergonomics with well-laid-out controls and excellent seats, and it did not leak in rainy weather.

There was a downside to the TR7, though, and it had to do with timing. Triumph TR7 production started just as labor issues in the UK became their worse with strikes and sit-ins becoming the norm. The resulting production of the first TR7 cars were less than spectacular, and quality control went from acceptable to horrendous. This also damaged sales, and the TR7 failed to save the company.

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Triumph
The interior is fairly roomy for a sport car

There are few truly great examples of the TR7 that survive today, and it can be more difficult to find a nice TR7 than it is to find a nice Ferrari Daytona.

Amazingly, we have what looks to be an exceptional example being advertised on ClassicCars.com: a 1976 TR7 coupe that is the Pick of the Day.

According to the seller, a dealer in Cadillac, Michigan, this TR7 is a true survivor car with the added bonus of being what was called the Victory Edition with its original paint and upholstery. Finished in Carmine Red, with white stripes with chrome accents, and a vinyl top from new. The car also features a period-correct aftermarket chin spoiler.

Triumph
The engine and transmission are said to have been rebuilt

The car has extensive documentation and includes its original BL window sticker, original dealer window sticker, sales receipts, service history and owner’s manual.

This is a solid southern car, the seller states, that has had extensive mechanical restoration, include rebuilt engine, transmission and front suspension, and new brake master cylinder and booster.

This TR7 coupe is the finest example I have seen in years and represents an excellent buy with an asking price of only $5,495. This is a car that is likely to win every TR7 award at a Triumph meet and that will seriously turn heads at any British meet.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

8 COMMENTS

  1. My brother baught one when they came out in 1977 and gave it to me after he owned for about 6 years. It was the worst car I have ever owned in my life. It ran for about 3 months of the three years I owned it because it was always breaking down. Run away from these Britain lemons! Electrical issues, engine problems, you name it these cars had everything bad. Pop up light never worked, signal light switch broken, clutch cylinders go bad, universal joints went out, had to overhaul engine at 55k miles! Carbs always off, float, engine overheat due to themosta going bad, I can go on!

    • A big DITTO to that! Having owned, literally, dozens of British sports cars in the 60s and 70s, I just had to have a TR-7. I enjoyed nearly all my British cars, and enjoyed tinkering with them, as all British cars seem to need. HOWEVER, the TR-7 actually spent more time needing, waiting or receiving maintenance and repairs than it did running adequately enough to actually drive and enjoy. Easily the biggest POS car I’ve EVER owned. A distant runner-up would be the 1977 Jaguar XJS that I owned. Hell, my Fiat X1/9 was reliable by comparison to the TR-7!

  2. I was in college in the mid 70’s and a classmate had one of these, it was green. I can’t remember ever seeing him drive it, well, once, leaving the student parking lot. What I do recall was always seeing the hood up and he and friends starring under the hood, arriving early for class and the car still in the parking lot covered with either dew or snow. Left there night after night. He loved the car and hated it at the same time. I was sure glad I didn’t own it. My Chevy Nova might not have been perfect but it ran day in and day out.

  3. Didn’t have one of these but did have a ’72 MG Midget. It was fun but, the roof leaked right over the steering wheel when it rained. I had to park it at the top of a hill at the end of the day & pop the clutch in the morning to get it started. There were constant mechanical problems.
    I HATE the rubber bumpers on the TR-7! I guess safety regs overruled aesthetics.

  4. My stepfather bought a new 1974 Spitfire when I was in highschool, driving a ’67 Impala SS (327, not the killer big block). It was a beautiful maroon, with a removable hardtop and Jesus wept rubber blocks for bumpers. Three weeks after he took delivery, he stopped for a light, and the brakes wouldn’t release. After the bad language and tow, the Indianapolis dealer determined that the car was shipped- over the salt water ocean, mind you- with the brake system completely dry; internal rust, donchakno’. It took two trips to the body shop to get the geographic orange peel in the paint leveled up, and both the hard and soft tops ALWAYS leaked. Always. My 3800+ pound PowerGlide 327 Impala could run away from it any day, and, barge-like handling or not, I could beat him on any road despite the curves, as any semi straight allowed me to gain so much ground…
    I loved my stepfather, and he loved the Spitfire, to the point where it never saw rain/snow and lived always in a garage- his, or "the shop". But I never understood his affection for such a useless, impractical machine. He passed a couple years ago, and the Spitfire, with all of 33,xxx miles, went to his daughter in Pennsylvania. I hope she didn’t consider it a "collector’s item", ‘cuz for the 30+ years I knew about it, all it collected was bills.
    Due given, despite the block bumpers, it was a pretty and, when it ran, spiffy little ride. But the issues inherent caused it to be more a problem than a hobby; sort of a Rodney Dangerfield car- more miles vertically than horizontally.

  5. Purchased one of these new, a later convertible, still have it and now having completed the same mileage as my 25 years younger Citroen my TR7 has proved far more reliable.
    Early coupes such as this are now becoming collectable due to scarcity as so many were scrapped to provide parts for the convertibles which at the time were considered to be the better car. It is generally accepted that the later TR7’s were of better quality. My headlights have never failed to pop up and the only electrical fault I can recall was addressed by a new light switch, a push in fitment that cost a few £’s.

  6. I’ve been exposed to four types of British cars…three "sports" cars, and one an everyday driver/family car. The 69 Spitfire my friend owned ran with proper maintenance into the 20000 mile area and then The Prince of Darkness (Lucas) appeared with electric problem and leaks in the wiring that lets all of the smoke out (More on that later). He sold the Spitfire never to own a "brit" again. The next was a 1971 MG Midget that ran four (4 !) coast to coast (well….Ohio to California) runs with no problems while in the military. The car made it into the 60000 miles no problems (RARE !…even we were amazed !) and the friend sold it due to the baby on the way. An MGB of a friends that I drove all over southern California with his permission while he was on the carrier Kitty Hawk off of Vietnam at Yankee Station…the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club. Perfect…very little problems. Triumph GT-6…..rare. Light grey in color. Belonged to a friends mother of all people. She let me drive it and I was smitten, (with the car. She had a nice body but was a drunk) She totaled it, drunk, survived. A 1963 Hillman Super Minx station wagon. Installed a "crash box" (no synchronous) and learned to double clutch. Drove the car through high school. Was a "meeting place" wherever we were parked. POINT: Every one of these vehicles I’ve known and driven was visited atone time or the other by the Lucas Electric Prince of Darkness. It appears and nips the wiring, allowing all of that smoke encased in the wiring to escape, that smoke which is needed in the enclosed wiring of these vehicles to perform its electrical function. Find the hole in the wiring. Plug it. Replace the electrical component that is the closest to where the smoke escaped and you’re good to go. NOTE: You will become proficient at identifying the exact electrical smoke releasing component because if you are wrong about the component, electrical components are not returnable. I will be buying a 77 MGB with 36,789 miles on it soon. It is in showroom condition as the family only used it in summer and only on sunny days. The car has never been out in snow (stored but run occasionally in winter…has never been in the rain ! !) I will expect the same problems that I have described here. It’s what it takes to own British……they started this tradition when they burned down the White House in 1812.

    • Owned one three years, love it. Bought it and pulled it out of storage after 23 years. Spent a little bit of time updating suspension bushings, ignition, and soft goods. Just a blast to drive. Maybe I’m more mechanically inclined than most but it seems pretty basic. Keep oil, coolant, and gas where they are supposed to go and enjoy.

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