British V8 Classic: 1980 Triumph TR8 Convertible

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When the wedge-shaped Triumph TR7 was introduced, there was a certain level of disappointment both amongst the motoring press, and the buying public. Where most had been expecting the car to appear as a convertible, the car that emerged was a coupe. The TR7 was also often criticized for its lack of horsepower. In spite of the company being constantly plagued by industrial strife, British Leyland was eventually able to answer both of these criticisms, and the TR8 Convertible is now considered to be the ultimate expression of what was originally expected of the TR7. This TR8 Convertible looks to be in good condition and is 1-of-1,000 that is believed to still exist today. It is located in Little Ferry, New Jersey, and is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN price of $10,000 for the Triumph, but the option is there to make an offer.

The appearance of the Triumph looks quite promising. The TR8 was available in a pretty wide array of colors, from the classy and cool, through to the loud and pretty gaudy. The Platinum Silver Metallic was definitely one of the better choices, and it gives this car an air of class. The overall condition is pretty impressive, with no sign of any major rust or rot issues. The soft-top looks like it is also in good condition. The most obvious flaw on the outside of the car is some odd coloring on the front spoiler, which could be addressed quite easily.

The vinyl and plaid interior trim on the Triumph also looks to be in good condition, although the plaid material and the carpet have both suffered from a bit of fading. The dash looks good, with no signs of cracking, or any other real problems. The radio/cassette player isn’t original, but it is period correct. It doesn’t look like the dash has been cut to fit it, so sourcing an original and fitting it should be possible.

The feature that distinguishes the TR8 from its 4-cylinder brother is the 3.5-litre all-alloy V8 engine, and the owner doesn’t provide any photos of this. Still, you will find a YouTube clip at the bottom of this story which shows the car running and driving, and the engine does sound strong. The V8 engine is backed by a 5-speed manual transmission, while the Triumph is also fitted with air conditioning. While the TR8 weighed about 200lbs more than its 4-cylinder brethren, the additional 35hp and extra torque of the V8 certainly addressed this, and the TR8 was quite a sprightly performer.

While records are quite vague, it is believed that British Leyland managed to produce around 2,750 Triumph TR8 Convertibles. With only around 1,000 now believed to exist, that means that more than 60% of the entire production has now succumbed to one malady or another. That gives this car a bit of an air of exclusivity and makes it a car worth considering if you’ve always wanted to own a British classic.

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  1. Trent Poole

    Would love to hear from Jamie Palmer on this one..

    Like 1
  2. DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

    #1. Don’t shoot a video in vertical format. Duh.

    #2. Take the video in a location where there is no distracting background noise.

    #3. Put someone behind the wheel who can truly drive a car with a manual transmission.

    #4. Post photos on eBay that have normal positioning (instead of 90 or 180 degrees off)

    #5. I’d love to have this car.

    Like 7
  3. Billy1

    That video and driver was pathetic. But I’d love to own a TR8 1 day.

    Like 6
  4. Francisco

    Damn. I have a stiff neck from looking at these photos. I’d love to own this car though.

    Like 3
  5. Eric Z

    And this is what it looks like when a TR8 catches fire in our underground car park while trying to start it after the winter break.

    Like 4
  6. Capriest

    Ugly looking little British wedge, and I suspect I would HATE maintaining it, but I can’t dislike anything with a 5speed,a V8, RWD, and a plaid interior.

    Like 1
  7. Bruce

    I am not certain about the TR-8 I know the 7’s had a certain amount of frame flex and that replacing water in the radiator was very critical as air bubble could form in the engine and warp things internally. These were so close to being amazing cars that the screw-ups in design and construction are truly tragic.

    They are comfortable, fun to drive and perform well even by todays standards. If The Tools were still available and there was an update to fix all the problems this could be a winner even today. The rest of the auto world has grown to match the general looks of the car so not it is not so different as it was when introduced.

    I have never owned one but I have helped keep a couple on the road. Frame rust is a critical problem especially around the doors and sills. Strangely for me wiring has never been a problem on the cars I was working with. A couple of bad instruments yes but wiring and switches no. These are fun, better handling then a TR-6 or MG of any stripe but not up to Lotus levels but for summer afternoon or moon light drive they are hard to beat.

    Like 4
  8. z28th1s

    I always wanted one of these when I first got my driver’s license in 1981. This car looks to be a pretty solid example. Would be a fun weekend cruiser.

    Like 3
  9. Jerry C

    Don’t know about the TR8’s but I did own a TR7. When it ran, it was fun, like driving a go-kart. It was roomy, and got 30 mpg. The downside was the Lucas electrical system. I was replacing starters and alternators every 3 months. And the distributor was close to the hood opening, and whenever it got wet, would foul out. Would have to take it off and dry it, put it on an start it up. Was very disappointed.

    Like 1
    • Alan Northcott

      British Fords too would cut out if they went through a puddle. But you could buy a waterproofing spray which you applied to the distributor cap which would fix it – until you took the cap off to check the points.

      Like 0
  10. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    The “Flying Door Wedge”!! These are a hoot and yes you feel the difference in this with just 35 more ponies.

    Wasn’t this engine a derivative of the GM 215 c.i. aluminum block V8 that BL bought the rights to “way back when”?

    Like 2
    • Concinnity

      Yes it is, later 4.0 and 4.6 litre Range Rover motors are a straight swap.

      Like 1
      • Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

        Thank you, Concinnity-it’s encouraging to know the IMPORTANT trivia is still rooted somewhere in the brain…
        I’d heard that GM wanted to buy it back during the gas crunch of the ‘80’s and BL said “Sure!!” with some cash figure WAAAY more than they paid for it originally to which GM went home mad and empty handed.
        Anyone out there in BF Land have a know about that story?

        Like 0
      • Concinnity

        I havn’t been able to confirm that, I think it is just a rumour. But GM did buy back the quite closely related Buick V6 from American Motors including all the production tooling which had been placed in store in Toledo. Kaiser had bought the ‘Fireball V6’ from GM for it’s Jeep division, but after the AMC takeover the motor had been dropped in favour of AMC’s own straight six.

        The Buick V8 was re-engineered a bit by Rover to allow for sandcasting the block with pressed in liners, and is still in production today by MCT in the UK. But due to the size of US market, more Buick V8s were made in the few years of production in the USA, than Rover/ British Leyland/ Land Rover has made since, including Leyland Australia’s tall block 4.4 litre version which formed the basis for the highly successful Repco 5.0 litre Formula 5000 engine. I, myself have one of these P76 blocks and am attempting to make a 6.0 litre version of these motors.

        A fuller story of both the Buick V6 and V8 is here on the excellent ‘Ate Up With Motor’ website

        Like 2
  11. Joe

    I have one. While it has enough HP to be fun, it simply doesn’t have the raw strength and agility of a Sunbeam Tiger. Of course, there is the near 800cc bigger Tiger (260) engine. The Tiger felt more like you were part of it. Tossable, and doing just what you wanted it to do with the throttle. The Tiger was just more fun to horse around. I’m not selling my TR8 though, and will upgrade some things on the car.

    Like 1
  12. PRA4SNW

    There are better videos in the ad, if you want to hear and see the car run.
    Here’s one of them:

    Like 1
    • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

      Again…. pretty much NEVER shoot a phone-video in vertical format! Duh! The phone-holder has to be a “Millennial”. Geez.

      Like 0

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