1981 TRIUMPH TR8View 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 most definitely not the case here, as we are pleased to be offering for sale what must be one of the very best converted cars.
Rewind to 2004 and an enthusiastic chap called Ian Davidson was looking for a new project and stumbled across an interesting car, purporting to be a genuine TR8 Convertible, in right-hand drive. The registration document stated it was in fact a TR8 and it certainly had all the right parts, such as power steering.
The car was delipidated and was snapped up by Ian who was soon about to embark on a two-year restoration, and one which would come at an eye-watering cost!
Not long after purchase, he realised that the car was indeed a converted TR7. What to do?
A new drop head body shell became available and this was to form the basis for a rejuvenated ‘TR8’.
TR Enterprises were entrusted with much of the work and unconstrained by originality, Ian decided to improve the car and create what many would consider to be a much better car.
A 4.2-litre Rover V8 was fitted, though with many modifications and several gearboxes were considered before finally settling on Tremec T5 Ford Racing box…
The full story of the car’s extensive rebuild can be read in our document section and it will be worthwhile spending some time acquainting yourself.
The car was finally finished in 2006 and the official final bill came in at a heady £40,394. However, we are told that much of the labour cost is missing from this figure, with Ian trying to hide the true cost from his wife. We’ve heard that tale a time or two!
Since then the car has been used sparingly, covering less than 7,000 miles. Our seller acquired the car some two years ago to add to his extensive collection of lovely classics.
With a year of lock down now behind us, and the car being more or less unused, our seller has decided that the time is now right to empty some of his garages.
So, if you are looking for a Triumph TR8 in exceptional condition, look no further.
On the Outside
With the amount of money spent on the TR’s renovations, it will come as no surprise to find that the car’s respray was done rather well. Painting a new shell does make life much easier too and guarantees a great result.
Careful storage and ownership of the car since has clearly helped preserve the condition too. The paint positively pops and we can find little to criticise. Come and see for yourself.
We can spot a light surface scratch on the boot lid, the odd stone chip but precious little else.
A set of Minilite alloy wheels contrast nicely and each is shod with a Toyo Proxes premium tyre, fitted around the time of our seller’s purchase. As we always like to point out, good tyres are a sure-fire indication of considered and careful classic car ownership.
Our seller also replaced the hood and this is therefore in excellent condition.
The TR also retains the rather distinctive cherished number plate, a lovely touch.
On the Inside
Anyone old enough to remember what a factory fresh TR7 interior was like will be delighted by the extensive upgrades fitted to our car. Most obvious are the premium leather seats which are as comfortable and supportive as they look.
Matching door cards and centre console complete the coordinated look rather nicely. And there’s a wooden steering wheel, a delight to hold… There will be no wrestling match with the steering either as power steering is fitted.
Other luxuries include electric windows, a Blaupunkt radio/CD player and air conditioning.
The interior has clearly been well cared for too over the years. We can spot a little surface rust on the hood frame, but this will be an easy fix.
There’s a decent sized boot, making this lovely TR an excellent car for a touring holiday or long weekend away.
We always make sure our photographer takes plenty of pictures of a car’s underside and that is of course the case here. There is a little surface corrosion to some of the components but spend a few hours with a wire brush and a little underseal and things will undoubtedly look much better. Prevention is always better than cure, after all.
The engine compartment has been nicely painted and is in generally good nick. That powerful 4.2-litre engine is undoubtedly the star and it starts easily.
This is a quick car too, that engine endowing the TR with excellent performance, and we are told it produces around 260hp, which is plenty.
There is an exceptionally large pile of paperwork accompanying this car, which we always like to see. It will take some time to wade through but do so and read the article by the restorer Ian and you will get a pretty good idea of how well this car was restored.
From what we can see, everything was either completely renewed or if not properly refurbished and clearly no expense was spared. This was a labour of love, the intention being to create the very best TR8 in existence. Job done, we feel.
The car is registered as a TR8 with the DVLA and being built in October 1980, the car is now classified as an historic vehicle and is therefore road tax exempt.
Even so, the car has been MoTed for reassurance, the last test being done on 22nd August.
An invoice from 2016 shows an extensive service was carried out by TR Enterprises and our seller recently changed the battery.
What We Think
A genuine right-hand drive TR8 will be almost impossible to find. This car is no pale imitation, but in our eyes is better than the original.
A more powerful engine, a racing gearbox and a top quality interior are the highlights.
Our seller considers the car to be almost concours and if that is your bag, then we do not think it would take a great deal to bring the car up to that exacting standard.
We wouldn’t bother but would be content to tuck the car away in a dry garage and use it as much as possible when the sun doth shine. TRs of this ilk are a rare sight today, so you will be guaranteed plenty of attention wherever you journey.
So, if all this 1980s loveliness has peeked your interest, we would suggest placing an early bid.
We fully expect the car to sell for between £15,000 and £25,000.
Viewing is always encouraged, within government guidelines of course. The car is located at our headquarters near Abingdon; we are open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing to make an appointment. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage options plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.
BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.
Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.
Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.
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