Only 1,415 Miles? 1980 Triumph TR8 Convertible

The owner of this 1980 Triumph TR8 Convertible claims that it is one of the lowest-mileage examples in existence today and that it has spent many years in storage with a collection of classics. A recent fire at the storage facility has inflicted cosmetic damage upon the car, but it doesn’t appear to be more than skin deep. That means that this could be a pretty good prospect for a restoration project. Located in Orchard Park, New York, you will find the TR8 listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $10,200, but the reserve hasn’t been met. Mind you, there are 134 people who are avidly watching the listing.

As you can see from this shot, the Platinum Silver paint on the little Triumph has taken a bit of a beating from the fire, but it doesn’t appear to be too bad. It hasn’t broken through the paint to expose metal, so surface corrosion is not really an issue at this point. The owner provides photos of inside the trunk, and the paint there appears to be undisturbed. There are a few minor dings on the car, but nothing too horrendous. Interestingly, all of the glass remains unaffected, which is another indication that the heat of the fire wasn’t particularly intense.

Looking at the back of the car reveals one of the most obvious pieces of fire damage. The lenses on the tail-lights have distorted quite noticeably, but the owner says that the light housings themselves are intact and undamaged. Once again, the lack of damage to the plastic bumpers seems to indicate that the Triumph wasn’t caught in the very center of the fire. One of the greatest indications of all is the state of the soft-top. This doesn’t look like it has copped any real damage from all of this, which is quite encouraging.

What made the TR8 stand out from the TR7 was what was happening under the hood. Triumph was determined to extract some performance and excitement from the TR7 platform, which had been pretty underwhelming since its introduction. With this in mind, the 3,523cc Rover V8 engine was shoehorned into the engine bay, and in this case, it is backed by a 5-speed manual transmission. Triumph resisted the temptation to use its own V8, which had seen service in the Stag. This was a blessing, because that engine had proven to be heavy, lacked decent levels of performance, and was also incredibly unreliable. The Rover unit was a tried and true engine, and with 137hp on tap, the 2,654lb TR8 possessed quite lively performance at that point in automotive history. A 0-60mph time of 8.4 seconds and a ¼ mile ET of 16.3 seconds were both quite decent in a 1980 context. The owner does say that due to the car having spent years in storage, it has only accumulated a genuine 1,415 miles on its odometer. What he doesn’t indicate is whether he holds any documentation to verify this. After its hibernation and subsequent trial be fire, the owner has revived the Triumph, and he says that it now runs and drives nicely.

One area of both the TR7 and TR8 that can really begin to show its age quite markedly is the deterioration of the interior trim and upholstery. The supplied photos aren’t that great, but when you piece them all together, the interior trim actually appears to be in really good condition. The plastic on top of the dash near the windshield is pretty warped, but the rest of the plastic trim looks to be in very nice condition, with no obvious cracks or splits. The upholstery on the seats and door trims seems to be free of marks, stains, or tears, while what can be seen of the carpet looks to be in good condition. If that single piece of plastic trim were to be replaced, I think that the interior would present really well.

Whether or not the mileage claims made about this 1980 TR8 Convertible are true is something of an open question, and it would be interesting to know whether the owner holds any documentary evidence to confirm this. What seems to be apparent is the fact that prior to the fire, this little car must have been in quite nice condition. On the surface, it seems that it won’t actually take a lot of time or money to return it to that sort of state, and once the work has been completed, this could be a very entertaining little car to own and drive.


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  1. Stangalang

    137hp ?? Uhhh small displacement V8 or not that’s sad…am I missing something here

    Like 4
    • TR3Russ

      Yes 1980

      Like 9
    • Mvickery

      Looking back at other cars of the day, it’s not really out of line. The 1980 Mustang 5.0 made 118, for example, and the 5.0 used in the Corvette made about 180. It was not a good year for horsepower.

      Like 7
      • z28th1s

        There was no 5.0 offered in the Mustang in 1980 or 1981. The only V8 that was available those two years was the 4.2.

        Like 1

      I had a mid 80s TVR with this same basic engine but 4.2 liter displacement, it has 300 bhp straight from TVR, so there is a lot of room for improvement with this little engine.

      Like 4
  2. TR3Russ

    A 1980 Corvette had 190HP.

    Like 1
    • Mike Hawke

      CA version was a 305ci with 180hp

      Like 1
  3. Crazyhawk

    I had one of these when I was younger. The only way I could get it started when it was below 50 degrees was to put a heat lamp on the motor for half an hour before I left. Every electrical thing on that TR8 caused me grief. It was fun to drive but I was thrilled to get rid of it.

    Like 5
    • jerry z

      Ah typical British Lucas electrical system. Fails you everytime! I’m guessing it has the Buick 215 engine that Rover bought back in the 60’s?

      Like 5
      • peter spooner

        Ah typical comment,I am 82 and have been riding and driving over 63 years with Lucas electrics and apart from renewing bushes have never been let down.

        Like 7
      • Garrett

        I had a 1980 TR7 convertible as my daily driver back in 1986. It would probably start unless it was cloudy or hot or cold or sunny or rainy or windy or foggy or day or night. The only way to get the windscreen wipers to shut off was turn the car off. The headlamps would, 100% of the time, turn on. It was about a 30% chance that one or both would actually pop some or all the way up, prompting a stint on your back under the front to wind them up manually. I once sounded the horn (conveniently located on a stalk on the left side of the column), and the entire dash fried plus a substantial amount of the wiring loom. Lost 2 radiators due to the head gasket rupturing, both times at the #2 cylinder, and losing compression to the coolant jacket which exploded the radiator. Occasionally, driving late at night with the high beams on, if you switched back to low beams, there would be no light-the low beams would not illuminate. Had to drive the rest of the way on high. Learned to alternate between high and low for short periods. Lucas electricals? Yes, this was my typical experience, and thus my response.

        Like 3
  4. Fred W

    Smaller V8, but the TR8 weighs almost 1000 lbs less than the ‘Vette.

    Like 5
  5. Lynn Dockey Member


  6. Raymond J Lawson III

    The damage to the bonnet is on the RIGHT hand side of the car, unfortunately the photo with the bonnet up… details the LEFT hand side of the car. Not real helpful!

    Like 1
  7. Allegro37 Member

    I had a neighbor with one of these, a 4 cylinder I think, and it was nothing but trouble. But in that case it was the Owner causing most of the trouble.
    The car as a v-8 will be entertaining, and a ride in the Summer with the top down in nice circumstances would be lovely. Someone buy this and take your time with it. Give it what it needs, and enjoy.

    Like 2
  8. Joe

    I’ve owned a 1960 MG Magnette, 1965 Sunbeam Tiger, and now an ’81 TR8. Electrics have not been a problem on any of the 3.

    Like 3
    • Lynn Dockey Member

      Lucas, the man who invented darkness. I had the 1980 TR7.

      Like 1
  9. Del

    One of the nicest Triumphs ever built

    The fire damage is negligible.

    The car is almost new

    Wonder what reserve is ?

    Like 2
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      More than $11,000. How much more is up to conjecture.

  10. John Oliveri

    1980 was a bad year for cars, music, etc, horsepower was nill, GM was on its way down, worst built cars ever, horrible gas mileage, I’m sure this little guy got around just fine, considering it’s weight

    Like 3
  11. Jerry C

    I know why there is only 1,415 miles on this thing. Because it probably doesn’t run (dependably). I had a ’77 TR7 and between the Lucas electrical system, twitchy dual carbs, and replacing the starter and alternator every 3 months, I could drive it a little bit. If you made it into a soap box derby, that would be best.

    Like 2
  12. Paul R.

    Lucas built refrigerators and toasters, that’s why the British have warm beer and cold toast.

    Like 1
  13. Lynn Dockey Member


    Like 1
  14. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Auction ended with $11K not being enough.

  15. Lynn Dockey Member

    The bidder dodged a bullet on that one

    Like 1

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