Blue Cheese Wedge: 1980 Triumph TR8

Jamie PalmerBy Jamie Palmer

The wedge-shaped Triumph TR8 is one of the least known and underappreciated British sports cars, produced right at the end of Triumph’s existence as a car manufacturer (yes, we know about the badge-engineered Honda called a Triumph Acclaim, but this is the last “true” Triumph). This very original example is for sale here on eBay and is located in Lima, Ohio. Bidding has just exceeded $2,500 but there is a reserve that hasn’t been met yet.

While TR8s look almost identical to TR7s, the addition of the 3.5 liter (215 cubic inch) aluminum block V8 absolutely transforms the car with seemingly no negatives (okay, fuel economy suffered slightly, but that’s about it). With a fairly soft ride, comfortable seats that outlived the car design (the later Reliant Scimitar used the same seats long after the TRs were gone) and good handling, a nice TR8 is a wonderful car for doing just about anything. There’s even decent luggage space in that tall trunk.

This particular survivor is still sporting it’s original paint, which seems to have held up quite well. The car comes from Texas and has only just over 14,000 original miles. It’s not that unusual to see a TR8 with low mileage like that as most were purchased as toys, and many collectors snapped them up after Triumph stated they were ending production.

The center console has been removed for some reason; I suspect it may be to replace the shifter isolation bushings, a well-known weak point in these cars that is inexpensive to remedy but requires quite a bit of contortion to fit (I’ve done it).

Complete with air pump and air conditioning, with all items said to work, this is a great example of how wonderful the TR7/TR8 line of cars could have been. I have the auction under watch, and I suspect some of you will as well. I hope one of us ends up with this wedge!

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Comments

  1. txchief

    Me likie! Teenage dream car and corvette killer!

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  2. Howard A Member

    When these 1st came out, us British car loyalists laughed and cried at the same time. THIS is what replaced our beloved TR-6? We’ll show you, we’ll have nothing to do with it, regardless of what motor you stick in it,,,now, fast forward 37 years, this really is a neat car. Love the color, and the V8 is guaranteed to give you a smile. This is one car that will only go up in value. The only thing that would keep me from buying it, is under the hood. Must be a nightmare to work on. Very cool find.

    1+

    • graham line

      How is a GM V8 going to be a “nightmare to work on”?

      Nice cars once you adapt to the styling. Much more car than a TR7.

      2+

      • thomas schweikert

        no nightmare except probably having to pull the engine to reach rear spark plugs

        1+

    • Fin Purcell

      I have had my TR8 for almost 20 years and it is one of the easiest cars to work on. Many comments here made without any experience of the car!
      The plugs can be changed in 10 minutes including the rears.
      The only thing that is time consuming is fuel tank removal as it is above the axle though it is rare you would want to remove it.

      2+

  3. gbvette62

    I had a friend who bought one of the very first TR7’s. I thought those TR7 coupes, were the ugliest thing on the road. Then a couple years later, Triumph cut the roof off the coupe, turning the TR7 and TR8 into what was truly, a pretty little sports car.

    The TR8’s made pretty good race cars too. I have fond memories of watching Bob Tullius race his TR8’s in Trans-Am and Camel GT, and of our Corvette trying to catch Ken Slagle, in his GT-1 TR8.

    Rover and British-Leyland sure got their moneys worth, when they bought that little V8 from GM. Rover produced it in various versions, for 40 years, dropping it into Rovers, Land Rovers, MGB’s, Triumph’s, TVR’s, Morgan’s and probably a few others I’ve forgotten.

    3+

    • thomas schweikert

      that cool little buick engine was just the thing for trumpets also, which other other car had a wedge shaped garage like they showed in tv commercials

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    • Jerry

      Marcos also used it. I owned a factory MGB GT V8 and an MG RV8 and TVR Chimaera both from new.

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  4. Chuck

    Just remove and store the emissions equipment and ZS carbs and put a 4-barrel manifold and carb on it. Much simpler and smoother. Were the ’81s fuel injected? I can’t remember.

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    • Murray

      A 350 4 barrel Holley on a dual plain Eidlebrock Manifold coupled with a good set of headers will bring serious amount of extra go on the Rover 3.5 V8….;

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      • thomas schweikert

        a 350 chevy would really make it scoot but those vertical buick valve covers looked neat

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  5. 68 custom

    the 215ci V8 really made these cars something I liked, with a manual tranny and the top down this would make a fantastic cruiser with a bonus of the little V8s roar as you roll down the street! I think California TR-8s had fuel injection, but this one has carbs.

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  6. John D.

    Bidding at $3550 and reserve not met.

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  7. Gary

    Biding is up to $4,050 now I would imagine that the price will probably double before the bidding is done. And it would still be a nice buy at $8,000. Provided, of course, that there really are no issues with the car.

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  8. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    I think 68 custom has it exactly right: the TR8 is a cruiser, best done with the top down of course. And for a low production foreign convertible with an aluminum V8 engine, compared to lots of other desirable cars the price is usually right.

    I was in the market for one and test drove two of them. One was very close to like new condition and ran well. The other had needs but ran OK.

    I passed because they were less performance cars than top-down cruisers, and I wanted performance. They were beautifully smooth, that V8 burble sounded terrific, and with the top down they were wonderful summer cars. But even with a stock V8 drivetrain they are not a car you can toss around.

    And better check the integrity of the steel cylinders in the aluminium block. They can begin to move around, which is not good.

    Bottom line: if you want one but haven’t driven one, best to drive a good one to understand their cruiser nature.

    1+

    • Gary

      I have to disagree on the “cruiser” comment. You need to push the TR8 to it’s limit to understand what it is really all about. Triumphs were made to be driven, not parked in blacktop lot where you sit behind them in lawn chairs at a cruse-in. The TR8 goes like stink and handles like it’s on rails (in late 70’s technology capacity)

      1+

    • Dolphin Dolphin Staff

      Gary, it sounds like you might have had experience with a modified car.

      The 2 stock TR8s I drove were in a different universe than ‘go like stink’. They ran out of breath—and performance—pretty fast on the tach. The V8 had good torque low down but ran out of breath quickly, and there was no benefit to trying to push it further.

      The ’70 240Z that I had back then would run rings around both TR8s I drove, but it was a particularly fast but bone stock example. The stock 3 liter Healey I owned years before would also easily outperform the TR8s I drove. In my experience, even some 4 cylinder Brit sportscars like a good running MGA would perform about as well as the TR8s I drove.

      I don’t think it’s impossible for a TR8 to perform well, but from my experience and the experience that other people had with TR8s, the ones that performed really well were modified by someone who knew what to do to them to make good horsepower throughout a broad rev range.

      You can do that to almost any car if you work hard enough at it and throw enough money at it. The comparisons I’m making are with cars that are stock. See Oldgtracer’s comment below.

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  9. Oldgtracer

    Everybody seems to have gotten it right on this car. I owned it’s twin for a number of years and sold it to thin the herd. It is indeed a nice cruising car. You won’t be driving it exuberantly because it’s just not that sort of car…yes, there are/were TR8 race cars which were heavily modified. The coupe models are stiffer than the roadsters and later cars were fitted with fuel injection, though the suggested mod to 4 barrel carb does make everything easier about taking care of the car.
    These are well supported by a number of vendors including Ted Schumacher of TSI in Ohio…wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t know this car/owner. Ted drove for the factory Triumph team and is a great source of information, parts and help.
    This is a gentleman’s cruiser along the lines of the Mercedes 280SL…no race car, but fun to drive, nice sound as you burble along, quite roomy and comfortable.
    All the years before and during and after I owned my TR8 I heard talk of how “any day now” the value would go up…well, it didn’t…hasn’t…so don’t think of buying it and then making a score later…These haven’t moved out of the low end for a very long time. It’s more likely you’ll spend more buying and fixing or maintaining this car for the time you own it than you’ll ever get on resale. You will, however, have some very enjoyable rides in it as I did.

    3+

  10. joe

    Yes, I was one of the fools who bought as a result of all the “better get one now – before they are gone” car mag. articles. I got one off Ebay with the usual Ebay non-disclosure of true condition. When you look at the underside of them, you will be asking yourself “why did Triumph do this or that, and make the car unnecessarily complicated?” If built in America, it’s systems and suspension would have been much simpler. As for driving, a TR8 is but a fraction of what a raucous hooligan and fun car, a Sunbeam Tiger is. I had a ’65 Tiger. They also aren’t very quick. Just quick enough to be very adequate for street driving. And as for “Corvette killer”, surely you are kidding me.

    2+

    • thomas schweikert

      was wondering how much corvette killing 215 cubic inches could do even against early 265 cubic inch vettes

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  11. Tim

    1981 Tr8’s came with an EFI option. That would be a much better bet, but they are pretty rare now. Those Buick/Rover V8’s can be made to push out some extraordinary power figures >500HP. Loads of specialists in the UK who can do all sorts of things with them. Don’t forget the same lump was upgraded to a softer tuned 4.6 L spec and used in Range Rovers and TVRs for many years. Lot’s of potential with this. The weakest points are usually rust and cheapo 1980s interior.

    2+

    • JSB

      All California TR8s came with EFI in 1980 and 81, a few more horses. I’ve had 3 TR8s, loads of fun, and quick for the time, Corvettes were the only thing under 20K that was faster. Mine were stolen, and lost in divorce, or I’d still be happily driving them.

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    • Mark-A

      TVR used modded version of this same Engine for a long time (during the Peter Wheeler years!) in 3.5, 3.9, 4.2-3, right up to the 5.0ltr Griffith 500 & in the UK it’s still possible to find the expertise for rebuilds & EVEN more POWER (if required)

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  12. Paul

    I am the original owner of 80 Tr8 and still drive it every summer, currently has 50k on it and runs and drives perfect. Have upgraded somewhat, it is a great, fun car to drive. Also have a Tr3.

    2+

  13. doug

    I bought one of these in Miami, late 1990, from a young guy that was a federal marshall. Mine was a 1980 coupe with carbs. I loved it, but when I lost my job with Eastern Airlines and needed to move, I figured it had to go. I already had a VW deisel Rabbit and a 1967 Mini. Yeah I still miss that car.

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  14. Jerry

    Marcos also used it. I owned a factory MGB GT V8 and an MG RV8 and TVR Chimaera both from new.

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