1981 TRIUMPH TR7 V8 ConvertibleView vehicle description
Unravelling the production history of the TR7 and TR8 is a challenging endeavour. Three factories built the cars during their production run from 1975 to 1981, namely Speke, Canley and Solihull, and at times, due to strikes, there were periods when no cars were produced at all.
The TR7 was designed by Harris Mann and manufactured by British Leyland through its Jaguar/Rover/Triumph division.
A more powerful V8-engine version of the TR7 was planned in the early stages of the TR7’s development, a prototype being produced in 1972. Due to BL’s perilous financial state and labour problems, the project was much delayed. By 1978 some 145 prototype cars were built with V8 engines and usually automatic gearboxes. These cars were ‘evaluated’ and were then sold off used, with no distinct badging.
The ubiquitous Rover V8 engine was used, Triumph’s own V8 as fitted to the Stag being seen as not reliable enough.
TR8 coupes produced from 1978 to 1980 are quite rare, most being exported to the United States and Canada.
In 1980, a Michelotti redesigned TR8 convertible was introduced, and all subsequent cars were roofless only.
Total worldwide production is said to be 2750, though no one is exactly sure. Classic & Sports Car magazine’s figures swell that number by another 65 if you’re counting.
TR7 and TR8 production finally ended in October 1981.
With genuine right-hand drive TR8s being rather thin on the ground, thanks to only around 20 cars being produced over the years, many TR7s have been converted, some receiving little more than an engine upgrade. That is not the case here, as we are pleased to be offering for sale a fine example.
What better way to remember an 80s classic than actually getting your hands on something you wish you’d once owned and building it exactly as you would have wanted. That is precisely what our vendor did when he purchased the TR7 over two years ago. He knew it needed some TLC and took this to the next level by building his no expense spared vision of how a TR7 should look and sound, turning it into the less common TR8 model powered by the fantastic Rover V8.
The project began with the car being stripped and put on a rotisserie to see exactly what condition the floor area was in and, importantly, not to miss some of the more inconspicuous areas which could have problems. Luckily the TR7 was fairing quite well for its age, and it was just the usual problem areas which needed to be addressed. These included fabricating and fitting a new scuttle panel, inner and outer sills and a few other small areas were addressed correctly. The next thing you will notice is the addition of the forest arches, which have been expertly crafted in by the vendor, who is a dab hand, having had several years of practice fitting them to MK1 and Mk2 Escorts. These have had the rear arches cut out before mounting the wide arch and then remaking the inside to give a seamless finish from the wheel arch tub into the arch.
The most significant mechanical change is the 3.5 litre Rover SD1 V8 engine which has been fully rebuilt, and it's worth mentioning here that it’s not even fully run in after the rebuild. This is coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox. The TR has also had the suspension improved with the fitment of custom coilovers at the front and rear, enabling the height to be set perfectly. With additional power, the brakes have also been upgraded to provide much-needed extra stopping power.
Hours and hours have gone into the TR7 getting it to the stage you see today and now finally completed; it has been used for just a few hundred miles before the decision has been made to part with the British classic.
On the Outside
The TR7 has been finished in a nicely chosen burnt orange colour. Quite heavy in metallic, the colour looks great and even better once the sun hits it.
Starting at the front, the coolest thing to come out of the 80s are the pop-up headlights that work as they should and have had the lamps upgraded to P700 units. Lower down, and the front valance has been neatly crafted into the front forest arches to give a seamless finish and finish off the front end perfectly.
Around to the sides and you can see the wedge shape in all its glory. There are no noticeable dings or dents to point out other than the odd chip on the edge of the door, nothing which couldn’t be touched in easily enough. The door gaps look to match along with the boot lid and bonnet; all the panels open and close as you would expect. The windows are in good order with a new tinted windscreen, and the side windows have no excessive scratches to mention, apart from some light age related marks. The window rubbers are in good condition with no signs of shrinkage. A new mohair roof has been fitted and is in excellent condition.
At the rear, everything looks to be in good order. The light lenses are free from splits or cracks, and the two stainless steel exhaust tailpipes exit either side, giving away that this is more than a normal TR7. The vendor wanted something bigger than the standard size wheels. He has converted the PCD to fill out the rear arches and opted for a set of Ultralight 8x15 wheels finished in bronze. These have been shod with Toyo Proxy 215/45R15 at the front and 225/50/R15 at the rear.
On the Inside
Inside, the TR7 is relatively basic, as are most cars from this era, but what is there is functional and practical. The vinyl covered seats are in good condition with just a small amount of wear on the driver's bolster, and the passenger side is in good order. The door cards are in good condition; these do have speakers fitted, but there is no head unit fitted to the dashboard.
Whilst the dashboard was removed during the restoration, this has been repainted in black to freshen it up and match the rest of the interior. The switch gear looks original and has the average amount of age related wear you would expect to see but is reported to be working correctly. The instruments also work as they should, and the odometer has a reading of 72,263 miles which could be described as inaccurate as everything has been rebuilt. An additional oil pressure gauge has been fitted on top of the dashboard to give peace of mind and show a healthy oil pressure.
The carpets are in good order with a minimal amount of wear showing, and a set of embroidered TR7 mats are fitted with very little wear to them. Inside, the boot is lined with carpet and vinyl flooring, and the battery has been relocated inside here to the left. Unfortunately, there is no spare wheel due to the fact that the new wheels are too big for the wheel well.
This is where the vendor has turned the once standard TR7 into something a bit more special. It started with a fully rebuilt Rover SD1 engine with +20 pistons and +10 crank bearings. The head has had new cam followers and a new oil pump ensures the oily stuff gets to all the necessary components with good pressure. For the fueling, the fuel tank has been refurbished and fully sealed and fitted with a new sender unit. Then, a red top Facet fuel pump pumps the fuel into the new Edelbrock carburettor, filtered with a matching air filter. Of course, with all this fuel, you need a reliable spark, which is supplied by a viper ignition and distributor setup that starts the car with the flick of the key. To exhaust the gasses from the monster V8, a full Rimmer stainless steel exhaust system including manifolds has been fitted and it sounds fantastic. Keeping all this cool is a bespoke aluminium radiator and twin fans.
With the engine and fueling taken care of, the transmission has had a new clutch, the five-speed gearbox has been given a once over, and a bespoke upgraded universal jointed prop-shaft connects to the rebuild differential, which has a disc brake conversion. The braking system has seen a new master cylinder and servo fitted, and the front brakes have been upgraded to four-pot calipers and vented discs to cope with the extra power from the V8. These are reported to work as they should, bringing the car to a halt quickly and in a straight line.
Just like needing uprated brakes, the same thought process went into the suspension. As mentioned, this has been uprated to fully adjustable coilover dampers on each corner, enabling the perfect height to be set. The entire car was also fitted with poly-bushes and had new ball joints, and track rod ends. Finally, to make the steering a touch lighter, the front top mounts have been replaced with bearing top mounts.
In the way of history, the car didn’t come with any from the previous keeper and the work the vendor carried out was completed over two years where it didn’t really worry him about how much the project would cost; it was more of a case of wanting to do it. Unfortunately, this meant he didn’t save any invoices for parts and work done to the car. What he has done is take an extensive amount of photographs of the restoration, which shows fully just how much work has gone into this 80s classic at each stage.
What We Think
This is a great chance to own a restored Triumph TR7, which is a fantastic take on the extremely rare TR8 with a few nice additional touches, such as the fully adjustable suspension and fully rebuilt engine, not to mention the restored bodywork.
Since completion, the car has had minimal use, so little that the engine hasn't been fully run in. This makes it the ideal vehicle for anyone wanting to step into the British classic Triumph TR7 ownership and enjoy the car straight away, just in time for the summer months ahead.
We estimate this lovely 1981 Triumph TR7 to sell for between £10,000 - £15,000.
Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with the vendor near York, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
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