Fixed The Problems? 1976 Triumph TR7 V6

As frequent readers of Barn Finds know, I’m the resident Triumphphile around here. Having owned and enjoyed two TR7s and a TR8, I can tell you that they don’t deserve the horrible reputation they have, especially if one has lasted this long. That being said–the TR7’s engine is not the most well-engineered or assembled powerplant I know. Along with the Stag (which not coincidentally has a V8 based on the same architecture as the TR7’s slant 4) the TR7 must be one of the more engine swapped cars in history. This one is located in Bel Air, Maryland and is up for sale here on craigslist for $4,900.

The 7″ wide wheels that I think are Panasports, but may be Minilites or something similar, completely change the attitude of the car. Of course, they aren’t original, but I like them, a lot. I have a set of the same wheels that I’d like to put on a TR8 coupe someday. The general TR7 shape minus the large bumpers doesn’t look that dated even today.

I’m sure this is a repaint, and the paint is faded badly, so either someone like Josh has to pull off a magic reconditioning job or you’ll probably eventually want to paint it. However, I don’t see any rust, even in the TR7’s known problem spots.

The interior looks really nice. That’s not an air bag steering wheel, and there are many more attractive and sporty versions. Heck, when it’s been modified this much, why not keep going. A couple of things I noticed: one, the modifier of this car did a much better job than most integrating the shifter for the automatic transmission! Most look awful, this almost looks factory. Two, the seats are in pretty good shape, and I feel that TR7/TR8 seats are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever sat in–perhaps it’s just my body type, but I love them.

Finally, here’s the Buick V6 that’s  been installed. Apart from the lack of an air cleaner, this is a nice package that was rebuilt to a higher performance standard than stock. It looks like the car is fitted with air conditioning as well, which is mentioned in the ad but its functionality isn’t discussed. One other point that this is a better than average conversion is that the effort was made to source and install a TR8 rear axle with it’s 3.08:1 ratio perfect for this conversion. If this one had a 5-speed, I’d be very interested. As it is, this is a nicely converted car that just needs a little help. Are you the one to give it?


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  1. bcavileer

    Blasphemy. Sorry but the original powerplant was not bad. And the weight balance was great. Drove the cr#p out of my 1975 with a 4 speed manual. Sold with 45k and no issues. Was a fast, competent handling coupe. Of course, being a mechanic, I was fastidious about maintenance. Wish I had never sold it, even 40 years later. Swapped out, cobbled up … sorry No Thanks!

  2. johnj

    I have ’76 that I am slowly putting a 3.8 from a Thunderbird Super Coupe into. Had one with a Buick 215 swap and it was a lot of fun. I think the SC setup with its supercharger , injection and 5spd is going to make a good driver. Also has an 8″ ford rear and the same basic wheels as the one listed. Always liked these, decent handling, light weight and plenty of room in the engine bay for something better.

  3. Ed A

    I just sold a 77 Victory edition and picked up a 76 with a sprint engine (Dual overhead cam version of the original). As a mechanic I have seen a lot of these conversions and the V6 although easier to get parts for is the actual weak point of the cars done this way the original engines were great if taken care of properly. I have built one with a ford 302 5 speed from a mustang … down right scary that was I will stick to the stock engine and trans thanks. I do hope the new owner will be happy with it though. It should handle fine and drive well.

  4. Adam T45 Staff

    I know that the purists will scream blue murder on this, but while I don’t mind the look of the TR7, I’ve always thought that the appearance would be helped enormously if the bumpers and the plastic vents on the roof pillars were colour-keyed to the car. I think that the car would look less heavy, and it would certainly modernise the appearance.

  5. OA5599

    Nice find!

    The TR7 and TR8 design holds up well. This one is very tempting.

    After reading through the listing, it sounds like it could have been one of John’s conversions.

    These conversions are very extensive with attention to detail.

  6. David Frank David F Member

    Here’s one with a Johnscar conversion that looks like a much better deal at close to half the price if you don’t mind a roadster. It’s complete and “99% dialed in”. The problem is, it will be just about impossible to license here in California.

  7. Dale Leier

    Having owned a TR6, TR7,GT6 MKII and GT6 MKIII, I can tell you the TR7’s reputation for being a pile of crap is indeed well deserved.

    • John B

      I agree. My 1980 was exactly crap, and the old-school alignment shop I took it to said that whoever designed the front end arrangement was confused. Dim, flicker, off! It cracked the plastic oil pressure sender open on the interstate one night and emptied the motor. The electrical gauge was like a seismograph…jumping around back and forth, lights dimming and brightening. Plastic everywhere. A piece o’ SHE-ITE!! Give me a Midget or MGB instead.

      • Kevin

        John B. Because as we all know, there’s no plastic in a Midget or a “B” is there?

  8. Bruce Best

    The coupe is marginal but all the convertibles had enough body twist over time to open the doors on a hard corner. I know I was riding on the side that opened. It was not my car and would not be. They can be reinforced but it needs to be done properly.

    The biggest problem was in the cooling system which could hold air and if not properly filled would warp the head, block or both. Pushed out too soon for political reasons and ended up killing the company. Sad but that was British Leyland at the time. Horrific management which translated into less than great engineering and assembly from the factory.

    Fix them up properly and you have a good fun car for a very reasonable price just join the club and be certain of what the limits are for price, cost and operations and you should have many years of fun.

  9. Healeymonster

    My uncle sold these on his foreign car lot in the 70s and 80s. I use to drive them around for fun but I gotta say, they definitely had issues. I love engine swaps. I would have done this one with a 289 with a T5 and a 8 or 9 inch to power it. Then with all new electrics it would be fun and reliable. I wonder if they can still source the hood sticker that said “Triumph” with the leaves around it. Always liked that decal.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Decal is easy to find :-)

  10. John B

    The Chevy Vega of British Leyland. Crush ’em all.

  11. HeadMaster1

    I owed an 81′ for nearly 20 years. Sadly I never drove it, put maybe 400 miles on it total. NOT because it was terrible car, but because it was still new on MSO….I sold it last year and it ended up being shipped off to Germany to a dealer. Being a Brit Born, Yankee raised chap, my love for the British Iron will never fade……I think the best modern swap into a TR would be a Mazda RX8, or a Honda S2000 engine, both high revving, light weight engines designed to be driven hard and pay wet…….Don’t get be wrong, I’d love to do an LS swap into a Stag someday…….But then again, I like a challenge…..

  12. HeadMaster1

    Here’s my 81′ next to it’s stable mates (XJ12 & Silver Spur)

    • HeadMaster1

      guess pics aren’t loading today

  13. smittydog

    Oh jeez, I would rather dig a hole and throw my $ in, or dig a large hole and push a Brit car in it. You would think a foggy country would make a car that starts in a moist environment. She looked fine until she smiled!

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