Hagerty.com

Is the Triumph TR7 going to be dirt cheap forever?


#1

According to Triumph, the 1975 TR7 was supposed to be “the shape of things to come,” but it wound up being the shape of a tanking company. But how?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/02/01/will-the-tr7-always-be-cheap

#2

Yes the TR7 will remain dirt cheap as the design did not sit well when it was new and it still doesn’t today. For Triumph to go from the beautiful TR6 to this design shows that Lord Strokes and his company had hit rock bottom and the disaster of his leadership at British Leyland where every product was plagued with problems and acting as total cheap skate on killing Marques like the Austin Healey the MG and Cooper and favoring Triumph with money to built cars that nobody wanted. Even Jaguar was infected by his disasterous policies. The design was bad the quality was failure and the people who built the cars were the problems that was only solved when the factory was shuttered. The design is a total joke then as it is today.


#3

Having owned a couple earlier Triumph’s in the past. First year Spitfire and first year Stag, I thought the TR7 was about as ugly as a car can get and I still feel that way. I wouldn’t even want one if they were free.


#4

True in the negative description, but like any car the TR7 and 8 can be improved. Actually there a few that are SCCA competitive. Not what the average owner may do, but they can be made to be more fun to drive.


#5

I bought a 1980 anniversary TR7 convertible in 1981 with a few thousand miles on it. At the time, there was a TR8 also for sale at the local dealer. After test driving the TR7, i realized that the TR8 would be the death of me. My car had a great fit and finish and it handled a lot better than my 73 Mach 1, that I still have and the Z28 camero I traded in for it.I once took a 45 degree corner at 65mph (didnt see it coming) and it held tight to the road. My only issue was the nagging electrical issues that would pop up from time to time. I paid the same labor rate as the Jaguars this dealer sold. At the time it was around $90 an hour. After buying my first home and securing a winter car to keep both it and the mustang safe for winter, it failed one last time. No one could figure it out, so it was traded for a new reliable car. I still miss that car and would love another one some day.


#6

Owned a TR7 for several years and I luv’d that car. It was a hoot to drive with the best stick shift throw and super tight handling of any car I’ve ever owned including a Corvair Corsa (4 on floor), Datsun 240Z, MB 280 SL and an XKE Series 1. Some folks just couldn’t get over the radical style departure from the 6, which was too bad as they missed a really fine driving experience at a reasonable cost. Sold it for a little more than I had in it.


#7

To me it’s more of a “Why bother?” situation. Why bother with a car that has never been reliable, if what you want is a fun weekend toy? No toy is fun if it doesn’t start and go, and unless you are a dedicated mechanic, the cost of professional maintenance on a car of this sort has to be low. If it was pretty, or exceptionally fast or handled much better than other choices, maybe, but if it isn’t outstanding somehow it’s just not worth my time.

For similar money you can buy and trick out a used Miata, and have something that will start, will run all day, and won’t bankrupt you with repairs. And have a lot of fun driving, too.


#8

Can’t make a silk purse out of a pile of horse manure!!


#9

When it comes sales of the TR7, British Leland’s dealer network did not help. Personally I like the look of the TR7. Did when it was introduced. Still do today. And unlike a Spitfire you can get in and out of it without showing off your abilities as a contortionist. I nearly bought a TR7 when it first came out. But after being totally ignored by the sales staff at the Triumph dealership for over a half an hour, not so much as even a nod of recognition I was there, even though I was the only customer in the showroom, I walked out and never went back.


#10

I have owned my 1980 TR7 for over 27 years. Prior to that I owned a 1976 TR6. Although both cars were fun to drive, I will take the TR7 any day, especially if two people are in the car. The seven came standard with air conditioning (a must if you live in Oklahoma) and is better suited for long trips.
Although not as powerful as the TR8, it is much easier to work on because of the amount of room under the hood. As for beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. I think my sporty, economical and comfortable sports car is beautiful. If the number of thumbs up received along the road are any confirmation others agree.


#11

In 1981 I’d had a ‘real’ job for about 4 years out of college. I’d committed to buying a NEW sportscar after being the one at a party who always had to park on a hill to start whatever POS I was driving in those years.
I drove the 280ZX, RX7, 924 and a TR7. The TR’s poor build quality was apparent even new. Loose interior panels, the A/C wasn’t adequate and IIRC, the demo’s upholstery was already splitting at a seam. And then it’s performance was, to put it kindly, underwhelming. I drove a straight-six rambler in college that was quicker. If it’s dirt cheap, it’s still overvalued.


#12

Funny, everyone who does not own one and has never driven one dislikes the TR7. And most that currently own one like or love it. I’ve owned a TR8 (very similar to the TR7 except for the engine) for about 3 years and now find it reliable, easy to work on and a hoot to drive. Mine was in never restored condition when I purchased it and required some effort to set it right. But parts are available and mostly inexpensive. The electrical system, 99 percent original in my car, has been problem free. Maybe the build quality was poor when they were new but take a look at late 70’s, early 80’s American cars. Not so great. Guess I just got a good one?


#13

Back in the spring and summer of 1981 I was a (supposedly) invincible 18-year-old and working as a lot attendant/car jockey for a Jaguar-Rover-Triumph-MG-Saab-Fiat dealership in Calgary, AB Canada. Got to drive some very fine and expensive junk, as well as a few classics - a rather prestigious consolation prize to make up for my $5/hr wage. The TR8s at around $14000 (Canadian) were a blast and just felt tighter than the $10,500 TR7s. Come to think of it, so did just about everything else, Fiats notwithstanding. Anyway, while doing a turn-and-burn in Winnipeg (out-bound from Calgary by Greyhound bus, return leg by new TR7 convertible - white with a yellow and black stripe - that the dealership in Calgary had a sucker er, buyer for and needed back in Calgary the following day) I pushed my luck and tried to drive straight through on a diet of coffee and cat-naps. The result was as predictable as the strategy was incredibly stupid. I rolled that sucker at around 70 mph at 5am near Maple Creek Saskatchewan. No seatbelts, and walked away (actually ran away - I’d seen too many 1970s tv shows to believe anything other than the myth that all cars rolled at high speed blow up mere seconds after coming to a stop) with a few scratches. The car was a complete write-off, with seemingly no facet of its door-wedge shape unscathed. Lucky I didn’t kill myself, and even luckier I didn’t injure or kill anyone else. Somehow did not lose my job over this, and for the longest time I felt terrible about destroying that car. But as the years went by and the TR7s ultra-lemon status became more apparent to the entire world I began to feel like I’d done the world a favor. That wreck represented one more P.O.S. that was NEVER going change hands multiple times and saddle a string of would-be owners with the type of buyers remorse that makes people wish they’d bought a Pinto instead.


#14

Over the years I have had a TR4 a TR4A a Spitfire and a Austin Healy Sprite, all were fun,only electric problem i ever had was starters. I climbed Picks peak in the Spitfire.Drove from San Diego to Oregon with no repairs in the TR4.You don’t drive a old British car for retail value , You drive them for the Fun of it.anyone who has ever driven one can bitch and complain,all they want. But it was still FUN


#15

@EarlDuke
Roger,
Please note that I DID drive a 7… essentially head-to-head with some contemporaries. It was a failure. If you’re happy with your 8…outstanding. That’s what all of us ultimately are after with our four-wheel hobby. And I have to think the 8 cured the lack of performance of the 7 to a degree. But the article and this thread was about the 7. And even then, maybe it’s you who should consider driving some alternatives.


#16

TR8’s are cheap also. Compared to other American V8 powered European cars. They are 1/4 to 1/3 what they should be. Just like TR7’s occasionally there’s one that sells for a high enough price. These end of British Leyland cars are just taking forever to rise with the market. I had a Daimler SP250 that went up 4x in less then 10 years like the TR’s need to do.


#17

What I remember about the introduction of the TR7 is that it was the first car design I’d seen with its rump in the air. The earlier soaring tail-fin Chrysler products involved just the fenders. I think the TR design was seminal: Other car-makers followed. Like it or not. Me? Not.


#18

Wanted a good handling sports car and Iooked at a few TR7s before choosing a Toyota MR2 spyder. Couldn’t drive either because they were non runners, a typical condition for these cars. Although I’m told they are a blast to drive when they are running right, the love it or hate it styling, ghastly build quality, propensity to rust and chronic electrical failure makes it seem unlikely they will ever be very collectible IMO.


#19

I doubt the TR7 will ever be a big money car. They were not very popular when new, and they never really gained a following like a TR6 or a Spitfire. I bought a new TR7, though fun to drive when it was out of the shop, it was in the shop far too much. I didn’t keep it long.


#20

I owned one, I drove it, and I disliked the experience. Mine was a 1980 convertible made at the Solihull factory, which were supposed to be some of the better cars. Alas, in a nutshell it explained why the company folded and never came back. The UK automakers generally refused to acknowledge reality that customers got fed up with terrible service and crummy quality. Triumph was an extreme example of British Empire hubris run amok in the automotive sector. They should have sold to Tata if they had the opportunity, just like Jaguar.

Somewhere along the way the previous owner of my car replaced the terrible factory electronic fuel injection with a couple of older carbs, which helped it run reliably. But overall the car was still a nightmare. Eventually the transmission self destructed, seizing up on me while driving down the highway at moderate speed. I’d never imagine my 74 Impala doing that to me and it never did even though it had over twice the mileage of the TR7.

The body itself was not very rigid, even by convertible standards. Slapdash construction and cheap materials meant potholes were a gamble - very easy to bend a shock tower without even thinking about it. Performance - ahem - of one of these cars (unless it is a TR8) is nowhere near that of a Miata so it’s no question that anyone looking for a weekend toy would be better off going with any example of Mazda’s little convertible.