I own a 1979 converatble that was restored several years ago. Even with the rare automatic trans, I love the car, inspire of its quirks. It’s been a fun and reliable car, easy enough to work on and I get plenty of thumbs up whenever I drive it (summer only). Prior to this one I had a 1976 coupe that was also a blast to drive and was again, a reliable fun classic that netted me a tidy profit when I sold it to a nice fellow in the south west. Not that I ever expect to get rich with the car, it’s hard to put a price on cruising the Oregon coast in a classic roadster!
The first car I bought was a new '74 TR6 that I loved. It was fun and reliable. For some reason after nearly 2 years I traded it on the new '75 TR7 (I received nearly the full price I paid for the TR6 as trade in value). The Triumph dealer had a new '76 TR6 with a mark up that put it at 50% more than my TR6. I later regretted this trade but while I drove the TR7 it was fun and a little more elegant than the TR6. I drove it from Ohio to Louisiana once and from Ohio to San Diego in '76 with no problems. Later I did have a recurring problem with second gear going out with any small gear grind which was easy to do. My girl friend, now wife, also broke second gear once.
My brother bought a 1979 TR7 convertible in 1986. He enlisted in the Marine Corps gave the car to my father. My first car in 1991 was a 1978 triumph spitfire. In 1994 my father gave me the TR7. This by far was one of the best handling fun to drive little rag tops that I’ve ever owned. I kept this car on the road as my daily driver for over 20 years and finally sold it back to my brother. They were the shape of things to come, it seems everything modern in the 80s copied the TR7. Most cars came out with pop-up headlights most cars we’re higher in the back and then we’re in the front and they were all square. The TR7 had a huge York air conditioner compressor that would keep the cabin a cool 55 degrees in the Florida heat. I purchased a 1957 Austin Healey 100/6 and hated it because it had side curtains and it drove like a truck. I fixed it up and sold it and purchased a 1965 Austin Healey 3000 bj8. I like the look of this car very beautiful but it was a rattle-box and drove like a tractor. I saw that and purchased a 1965 Jaguar XKE series 1 OTS. This car is by far the best car I’ve ever owned and recently underwent a rotisserie restoration. While this was being restored I purchased a TR8 to drive around. these cars are affordable and a lot of fun to drive and the parts are relatively inexpensive. I own two TR8’s and a limited edition 1980 TR7 spider fuel injected. I bought a 1972 MGB and restored it, well the parts relatively inexpensive the components were quite rudimentary. The MGB as a 1800 cc engine that can barely get out of its way, paired with a 4-speed transmission. The TR7 even though it was 1998 CC I had far more pep and was paired to a 5-speed transmission which made highway driving a lot of fun. The suspension parts on the MGB where levered oiled shocks, which in my opinion weren’t as good as that shocks and struts system used on the TR7 in TR8. Even the rack and pinion seems to handle better. The cockpit looks a lot better in my opinion as well and you feel like you’re almost driving an airplane. never buddy talks about the electric well I never had a problem one electrical issue in any of mine. But didn’t Lucas supply the electrical systems for pretty much every English car back then??. If you’ve never driven a TR7 I say give it a try he might be surprised and actually enjoy yourself. The TR7 is also super small and doesn’t take up too much space in your garage so you’ll be able to hide it from your friends, if your embarrassed!!
I’ve owned TR7s for 20 years between 1990 and 2010. Triumph finally got most of their quality and reliability problems solved for the late 1979 and 1980 cars, but too late to save their reputation. IMHO the only fault with the car is the engine - under-powered and prone to overheat. I now own a modified TR8 which is an absolute blast to drive. As to the shape, it’s bright red and all the kids think it’s a Ferrari. Best car I ever owned (until recent purchase of an Aston Martin) was a TR7 with a 3.5 litre Buick V6 conversion (John’s cars in Texas makes the conversion kit). Even better than the TR8 because the engine is smaller and further back, making the weight distribution perfect, and the Buick engine has great low-end torque so you don’t have to row it through the gears if you feel lazy.
Graham R Briggs
Wow- I read these posts and realize that most people do not have a clue as to the TR7/8, or for most any Triumph for that matter. These 7/8s were so far ahead of their time for Triumph, and if not for the poor management and workforce at British Leyland at the time, they would have been developed into incredible cars. As it stands, they, despite their reputation, are amazing cars. I know the article is specific to the 7, but the TR8 is something special, stock or modified. And the 7 is a comfortable, roomy, great handling car even being underpowered. I know first hand, as between myself, my brother and my son, we have many Triumphs, including a 3, TR250, 6, 7, 8, Spitfire and GT6. By the way, ever drive a GT6???
First, a little background. I purchased my first British car (1959 Morris Minor) from my brother for $75 in 1966. First gear was out. I rebuilt the transmission and was “hooked.” During the next few years, I has a 1958 MGA Coupe, 1959 MGA Convertible, and a 1966 MGB. I even worked for an MG Dealer as a mechanic in 1968. I went on to have a Austin Healy 100-6 (cost $600…sorry I sold it), and another MGB Convertable (I added air conditioning…lived in Ft. Lauderdale).
Fast forward to 1977 when I purchased a brand new 1976 TR7 Coupe. It was on the showroom right next to a new TR6. Having had leaky tops and side curtains in the past, The TR7 was perfect. Quiet, comfortable, factory air. I still have that car, 42 years later. I’m the only person to work on and repair it after the original factory warranty expired (12 month or 12,000 miles). It was built in Speke (Liverpool), and build quality was ok, but I finally got it sorted out. Biggest problem is that the steering wheel still vibrates at 55 mph…it’s done it since new. Only got it to go away once when the front tires were spun balanced on the car…try to find someone to do that now. During the years I’ve used it, parked it, got it running, and did two rolling restorations. The original engine was rebuilt once and then replaced at a later date. The transmission had a “laygear upgrade” during warranty. Transmission was subsequently rebuilt twice and finally replaced with a rebuilt unit. Rear axle “pumpkin” also replaced. It’s has 3 paint jobs over the years, and interior redone about 15 years ago.
Otherwise, it is 100% original.
The car now has about 120,000 original miles on it, starts and runs anytime, and still passes California emissions testing every two years. I still have the original Bill Of Sale, cost $6080.
About 15 years ago, I purchased a companion 1980 TR7 Convertible with Fuel Injection. The difference between the two (carbonated vs Fuel Injection, 4 speed vs 5 speed) was night and day, with the injected 5 speed version far superior in derivability and build quality (Solihull). Sadly, economics forced me to sell that one in 2008.
I’ve kept it all these years because I knew that I could keep that car running and always have a means of transportation no matter what happened to me economically. Now as I get older, getting “down into and up and out” gets more difficult. Maybe time to sell it soon.
Good day. I recently bought a 1977, TR7 FHC with the snap-on sun roof cover, and 5-speed tranny. I didn’t buy it because I felt that its value will increase, though this is likely to happen. I bought it because it’s a fun, simple car, it is not costly, and although I love my two American classics, I’ve never owned a British two-seater. Plus I like its quirky looks!! Years ago the TR6 model caught my eye. But I waited too long, and they now cost more than I wanted to spend. Enter TR7. I got one in good condition for a low price, and I just love it. I’m 250 pounds (working on this, this is not normal for me) and 5’10. I fit in this car fine, and love the driving position. It’s nice and comfortable. Tuned right, they handle well, and can do over 100 mph. And I have nothing against Miatas, but I wanted an old, low cost, British car. The Miata is none of these, but is good for those who don’t want an older car that needs regular attention.
So all I can say is: Don’t knock it, 'til you tried it. Cheerio.
I have always liked the TR7/8. When I was 18, an owner threw me the keys to his new Pageant Blue ‘79 drop top and I really liked it, but found the steering to be pretty stiff at low speeds - like parking situations. A few years ago, I was looking for a Triumph convertible as a second old car to join my ‘73 Land Rover. My first thought was to look at TR7s. I drove an award winning, all original ‘80 TR7 but found it to be too refined and modern an experience so instead went with an all original ‘80 Spitfire. I also believed that if I ever wanted to sell, the Spitfire would be easier to market. That said, I still think the TR7/8s are great values and would like one some day notwithstanding the naysayers.
I had a low mileage 5 speed TR7 Roadster in the early 1990’s. I drove it daily, for about 6 months. It was tight, reliable,and accelerated and handled far better than my wifes MGB. I embraced the styling, but didn’t swoon over it. I can think of a number of cars I think have far worse styling. However, the neighborhood kids thought it was “Cool like a Lamborghini” as one of them remarked. To a childs eye, that was possible. I’d love to try a TR8, as more power would make it even more pleasurable to drive. I sold the TR7 to buy an early XJ6. Perhaps I was lucky to own it just long enough to enjoy it without any of the fabled Leyland gremlins making themselves known.
For whatever reason, a lot of folks seem to take great pleasure in deriding the TR7. I owned one for about 10 years, and the only reason that I sold it was to make room for a full restoration of my Volvo 123GT. I modified my TR7 extensively, adding a fuel injected Camaro 3800 v6, Borg Warner 5 speed, Wilwood front disc brakes, 3.08 gear set from a Rover with a Quaiffe carrier, headers and lowered performance springs all round. The car handled well (weight distribution close to 50/50) was extremely fast and dead reliable.
My mother, who lived in Anchorage AK at the time, bought a new TR7 coupe and drove it year-around for three or four years until she and her husband move south. She loved the car, and claimed she never had a single problem with it.
I have never driven a TR7, but I did borrow my brother’s Stag for a trip with my GF out to the NC Outer Banks from and back to Nashville, From chronic overheating to ignition failure to window sticking up in the heat or down in the rain, that car was one disaster after another. It was lovely when it wasn’t misbehaving, which made the experience that much worse.
I liked the TR-7 OK, but it was too slow for me to actually buy one. I might well have bought a TR-8, but it was beyond my resources. I still would like to have one.
Pleasure? No. Like most British cars there’s a cool-factor that wants to draw me back…until I examine alternatives. But honesty? Yep.
I thought the TR7 was cool when I was a kid, so I bought a 1980 convertible around 2005. It was pretty solid in decent driver condition. It ran good except for a couple electrical glitches. But, as some have pointed out, it was slow. Really bad understeer, too. I did a club autocross in a parking lot one time, turned into the first corner and it kept going straight. I figure a TR8 would fix a lot of the 7’s shortcomings. I sold it in 2007 for about what I had in it, got on a plane, and went and bought my E-Type the same day.
I think TR7s are Going to be reasonable for awhile and they are plentiful enough that you can hot rod them without guilt. I wouldn’t dream of making anything but period correct mods to other cars that I’ve had/have (59 Sprite, 67 Volvo 123, Volvo turbo brick wagon)
They are getting rarer as time takes its toll, so prices will rise albeit slowly.
Having owned British cars during my High School days and early 20`s.I looked forward to retirement and the chance to restore a car of my youthful past. When I begun my search I found Many British Classics priced way beyond what I was prepared to Pay. I managed to find a TR7 Drop head coupe close to where I live and proceeded to purchase it.I have had many people comment on the car and found it to be a reliable Car.I have since purchased a hard top version of this car and am working (weather permitting) to make it road worthy.While the car lacks the History of the spitfire or the TR series of cars.I believe that the TR7/8 represents the finest driveability of the Triumph models .They have room inside and comfortable seating.The Best Value out there for a British Classic AUTO
Fun to drive little car.
I have an '80 roadster and I think it is a pretty good value. Yes it is not particularly reliable but not too many old cars are. It’s been lowered, 15" Panasports, emissions removed, no cat, and a sports muffler, repainted too. I think it looks pretty sharp. Overall not expensive but a good value IMHO. Once you lower it a little and install some nice wheels the look changes—it seems longer and more sleek. The 4 cylinder is “OK”, I think the 8 is a little too nose heavy and not worth the bother in stock condition. Michael Nic
Well - I worked in the service department of a dealership that sold JRT (Jaguar, Rover, Triumph) and also service them and MG’s, Austin Healey’s, Honda’s (our bread and butter) and DeLorean’s …
Having set that baseline, the Safety direction forced upon the auto industry destroyed all the JRT, Leyland products; some more than others.
I would never harshly criticize the cars of that era, even though they were no longer my style. The TR7 and TR8 were exceptionally ‘soft’ and drove like Cadillacs of the 50’s. Lots of folks bought them and enjoyed them.
I’ve always viewed collectibility as something that was rather popular when new, provided in minimum numbers and a memory prompter.
For me, the TR7 and TR8 hit none of those marks.
I’ve owned one. And a TR3, and a GT6. There are cars of lower build quality and worse reliability. Just can’t think of one off the top of my head…