Motoring Monday: TR7 Referendum

1980 Triumph TR7

One of the more polarizing British sports cars is also one of the last before the demise of the big two budget sports car marques as we knew them. While Austin-Healey and Sunbeam were already gone, MG and Triumph were still very alive when the TR7 was introduced in 1975. Despite the fact that more TR7’s were sold than any prior TR variant, the wedge often gets the blame for bringing down British Leyland’s MG and Triumph together.This barn find example, located in Saddle River, New Jersey and offered here on eBay with a buy-it-now of $15,000 and inviting bids with a reserve will offer an observation window into what enthusiasts now think of TR7’s.

1980 Triumph TR7 Interior

Even for a wedge enthusiast like me, that $15k BIN price seems pretty darn steep for several reasons. First, you can generally get a nice TR8 for that or less, which is effectively the same car but with the Buick/Rover aluminum block V8. Secondly, this isn’t even the most desirable TR7 version; that is the Spider. This is the 30th Anniversary Edition, which is nice but not as feature-filled as the Spider. As a matter of fact, I’ve owned a duplicate of this car, down to the color, and while it was a really nice TR7, I don’t think it was a nicer car than my TR8.

Triumph TR7

This particular example IS a really nice car. With an original interior that looks really good, mostly original paint (kudos to the seller to disclosing some possible work on a rear fender) that’s shiny and only 58,000 original miles, there’s a lot to be said for this TR7 being a comfortable way to enter the British sports car hobby. The car even includes air conditioning, although of course it is non-operational! A boot cover is missing some snaps, and it looks too small to fit anyway, so plan on replacing one of those. The only other glaring cosmetic flaw I can find is the missing center caps from the 30th Anniversary steel wheels.

Image courtesy classiccarstodayonline.com
Image courtesy of classiccarstodayonline.com

As you can see, a duplicate of this car was featured in the advertisements for the 30th Anniversary Edition. But despite liking these cars a lot, I have my doubts at the $15,000 price, even for a really nice but not perfect one. But since the seller is inviting lower bids, I’ll be watching to see what the market will bear for a nice TR7. If you look at the ad above, a typical TR3A in nice, but not perfect shape will go for around $30k; a TR4 in similar shape for around $20k, and a TR6 for about the same price. If you had your choice of any of these or the TR7 for $15k, which would YOU choose? Tell us in the comments, and let’s watch this auction together to see what the market thinks!

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Comments

  1. ClassicCarFan

    Ha…an interesting question. I have to say, as a Triumph enthusiast (owning a TR4 and Spitfire) I really think the TR7 is a much better car than it usually gets credit for. I don’t think they look too bad at all as a convertible and I think that they are quite fun cars to drive – if not exactly tire-shredding sports cars in standard 4-cyl form.

    Having said that… I can also understand how the 70s “wedge” styling is polarizing and my wife – who is very tolerant and supportive of my classic car habit and not averse to me bringing home another project car sometime – has forbidden me ever to darken our door with a TR7 because she thinks they are absolutely hideous.

    On balance, even though the TR7 is faster, better handling and more comfortable that the Spitfire – I still think if I had to choose between the two I’d still take the Spitfire just because it looks more like a real sports car ? (and I feel that being a simpler, more old-school design it probably a lot easier to restore/maintain?)

    So, to the question posed by Jamie…. I very much doubt whether anybody will pay $15k for this car, or anywhere near it. It certainly looks to be in very nice original condition, but it isn’t a “delivery-miles- only- shrink-wrapped-from-new” museum quality car? I just don’t think there’s a host of buyers out there who will spend $15k on a TR7. Of course, I could be wrong.

    Oh, and while I know that you are just throwing ball-park figures out there for the sake of argument but I think I’d disagree slightly with your value for the TR6…. I think there are still plenty of good tidy TR6s out there around the $10-14K price point?

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      @ClassicCarFan You may be right about TR6’s…in my area they seem to run higher than TR4/TR4A’s, but that may be reflective of condition. I have a friend right now with a *nice* TR6 that he’s having difficulty getting 20k for, so you may have a point. I have seen nice cars change hands for over $25k, though.

  2. cory

    Yeah,
    not gonna happen at 15k. If the seller has any aspirations for getting anywhere near that he really needs to fix his a/c and the other issues mentioned.

  3. Car guy

    Yeah i think 15,000 is the very high end, but I have to admit all the bits seem to be in right place, and it is pretty clean, I am curious, I do not remember TR7’s coming with a 2 litre badging on the rear quarter, Dealer installed?? maybe?? to help the sales guys determine what was a 7 and what was an TR8???
    They were selling both at that time.

    Your thoughts.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      @Car guy — yes, the last ones did have the 2 litre badging…although…I’m not sure if it’s original for a 30th anniversary edition though. Good point.

  4. Dolphin Member

    Jamie is right on the mark here. The 7 isn’t Triumph’s best design, this one is very nice but overpriced, and you can get a good TR8 for the same money or less. I know because I’m looking to buy either a TR8 or MGB V8, and every one of the good TR8s I’ve seen are priced under $15K. The ones with needs or automatic transmissions are in the $3K-$10K range.

    And I don’t believe this car was ever stored and then ‘found’ in a barn. The ‘barn find’ label here is just marketing, and that’s not going to make people overlook the high asking price.

    It is a good looking car. Most 7s are either trashed or neglected by now. This car is worth probably $8K on a good day to the 3 or 4 people on the planet who absolutely must have the nicest TR7 around. I’ll be surprised if it sells unless the asking numbers in the auction are reduced significantly.

  5. ClassicCarFan

    Yep, I’d agree with Dolphin…. You should be able to get a nice TR8 for less than $15k and if you were looking for the “best TR7 you can buy” then a TR8 convertible must surely be the best of the breed (OK, I know that’s a oxymoron but you get my meaning).

    One major plus point for the TR7 if you were looking for a cheap, simple fun classic convertible is that they are so generally so CHEAP to buy. Even a “good” one will not usually sell for much. For a price of $15k then you get into the question of “well if I’m going to spend that much, what else is available in that price range?” and then the TR7 looks a lot less attractive.

  6. ClassicCarFan

    @Jamie. Yes, I guess you are right prices for a car like the TR6 are mainly down to condition but regional location also makes a difference. I’m down in SC and I think the lower cost of living, cost of housing down here somehow feeds into more realistic asking prices than in come other more wealthy parts of the country? I don’t know, maybe that’s just my imagination. Maybe, also my perception of typical prices is skewed by my tendency to pay more attention to the cheaper cars needing some sorting out and I gloss over the more expensive ones because I’m never really looking for a car that’s already done?

    I do feel that TR6s are one of those models that are a bit of a bargain right now and may not stay that way for ever. I guess us crystal ball gazers can routinely make such predictions and they don’t always come true…. Some cars like the Spitfire, rubber-bumper MGBs and Midgets, the much-maligned TR7 seem destined to stay bargains indefinitely.

    But if you look at the way that early TR2 and TR3s have gone up, TR4s steadily following them upwards (TR5s will always be a special case and TR250 too to some extent) then it seems to make sense that TR6s should drift up in value sometime soon. I see it as one great big domino effect. E-type Jaguars moved beyond the reach of most ordinary classic owners then big Healeys seemed to take that next-in-line spot until they became really expensive, and it was probably the MGA and TR2/TRs that were next, and so on, and so on.

    I’m always a bit conflicted when I see a really attractively priced TR6 locally. You know, something that is basically solid and complete, maybe needing re-commissioning and some light restoration to make it into a nice driver car. I always feel a strong pull to jump in and buy it but I keep telling myself that it is just too similar to my TR4. I know that the 6-cylinder and the IRS would feel quite different to the old TR4 but really underneath it is very much the same car at heart.

  7. jim s

    i would go with the TR6 with overdrive because it would be most likely to be able to keep up with todays vehicles/highway speeds. as for the downfall of the of the brands i think it was other manufactures bring what people needed/wanted to the market, not only products but after the sale support. as for this car, too many other interesting cars in the same price range. good luck to the seller. nice find.

  8. bcavileer

    Bought a 1975 TR7 with 1k miles on the clock in 1975. The owners wife hated it…
    He was sorry to say goodbye. Java green with solid black interior. NO PLAID.
    Anyway, great handling decent performance but a TR6 had its way with me.
    Just did a nnnut and bolt resto on a 1970 ‘6’. It is twice the car the 7 was. Solid and powerful, I forgot just how good they were when they were new and tight. For 20k you may find a nice driver, but unless someone does Everything you will not truly experience what a great car the ‘6’ was. Values of the 6 will escalate soon. The 7 , ah no…
    Did pick up a lot of girls in it though, married one of them. Lol

  9. seth

    had a new 76 tr7. Was very light in the rear and scary in the rain. The a/c tended to blow the 50 amp fuse

  10. Howard

    I think TR7s are a lot better than generally thought, I could be biased as I’ve owned one now for 30 years. Bought it when it was 4 years old in 1984. It’s one of the later models with the 5 speed gearbox and was made with much better quality than the earlier models. It’s fun to drive, parts are plentiful and not the car is not expensive to maintain. The British car club I belong to is overrun with MGBs, earlier TRs are represented in reasonable numbers but there are very few “wedges” either 7s or 8s. There’s something to be said for “exclusivity” at events. Having said all that I’d like to think I could get $15K for it (that is its appraised value) but even I think it’s unrealistic.

  11. rick

    i don’t think the tr7 is better handling than the spitfire… did the spit do .87g by car and driver?

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