Another British Leyland offering that was originally controversial but is now finally achieving its own following is the TR7, on sale in coupé guise in the UK from 1976 and finally joined by the eagerly-awaited convertible version three years later. But the really good news about the TR7 now is its extraordinary value for money, being the only member of the long- running TR family that’s available in excellent condition within our £10,000 maximum budget.
In truth, you don’t need anywhere near £10,000 in order to drive a decent TR7, with even the best convertibles achieving only half as much, while coupé versions represent an even bigger bargain. But there are signs that asking prices are heading upwards, making this winter the ideal time to finally invest in that TR you’ve always fancied – ready to enjoy next spring.
Looking back now, it’s easy to see why the wedge- shaped TR7 coupé (with its four-cylinder, two-litre engine) was seen as controversial by Triumph fans that were used to the 2.5-litre, six-cylinder rawness of the TR6 roadster. And yet the TR7 was a far better car than many people realised, with a pleasing driving style and the kind of refinement that appealed to a new generation of sports car buyers.
￼￼The TR7 coupé was certainly a more likeable machine than its early reputation suggested, its low-slung driving position helping to make it feel far sportier than you might expect from its on-paper performance figures.
There was, of course, always meant to be a full convertible version of the TR7, though this was delayed by the threat of American safety legislation and a lack of development funds, which meant it didn’t arrive until 1979. But by then it was too late to save the TR7 as a long-term proposition, with British Leyland increasingly focused on more mainstream models; the final TR7 was produced in 1981, though many weren’t registered until the following year.
The most exciting member of the TR7 family was, of course, the 3.5-litre V8-engined TR8 of 1980, a model developed primarily for the USA, where fewer than 2500 were sold. As for the TR7, this saw a total production run of 112,000 cars, despite its early reputation for poor build quality and unreliability.
TRIUMPH TR7 BUYING TIPS
1. Rust, rust and more rust is a problem for any neglected TR7, although the very worst cars have long since been scrapped.
2. All outer panels are vulnerable to rot, plus the usual structural areas; but the Triumph scene is well-served by marque specialists.
3. The coupé offers the best value, though the convertible is more sought-after; many fans.
4. Convertible hoods are prone to leaking with age and wear, so check for damp and signs of floorpan damage.
5. The two-litre Triumph engine is reliable when maintained well, but the alloy cylinder head (on a cast iron block) can suffer from warping.
6. Later cars (from the Solihull era) were better built, making these the pick of the bunch.
Triumph TR7 FHC – from £1000 (condition 3) to £4000 (condition 1)
Triumph TR7 DHC – from £1250 (condition 3) to £5000 (condition 1)