Only One Problem: 1980 Triumph TR7

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Most of the time when we have featured a wedge (TR7/TR8) on Barn Finds, they’ve been rusty messes. Reader Jim S. sent in this great find that isn’t a rusty mess, but it has one big problem that the future owner will have to solve. It’s located in the charming town of Hudson, Ohio (I lived there for a while growing up) and is for sale here on eBay with bidding well under $1,000 as I write this.

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I wish all sellers were as thorough with their pictures as this one. Apparently, the owner stored the car for 15 years after a typical TR7 head gasket problem took it off the road. When they had a local shop look at the car recently, the prospective engine rebuild or replacement bill sent the owner looking in another direction. Consequently, it’s now offered for sale.

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The underside shot of this TR7 shows us two things: one, that the car is in pretty decent shape underneath, with only minor corrosion showing (the seller tells us that there is a rust bubble on the right front fender lip, but that’s all) and that the car originally had air conditioning–you can see the condenser through the under-bumper opening. Those Bosch lights are stock; I had a 1980 30th Anniversary Edition TR7 in the same color with the same lights.

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If you look at the very top left of this picture, you’ll see the 30th Anniversary plaque on the dash. The plaid material here is difficult to come by, but I’m thinking you could come up with something close and get these seats repaired by a competent upholstery shop (or get really brave and do it yourself?

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This is the picture used in the factory ads for the 30th Anniversary Edition. Look familiar? Wouldn’t it be neat if it were this actual car?

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Here’s the engine – and the problem! I’m surprised and pleased to see the emissions equipment still in place, so the possibility of a concours restoration is possible. As a matter of fact, there are three possibilities I see. The first would be to rebuild the engine that’s in place, or replace it with another TR7 engine. That would probably be the least expensive way to go. The second would be to convert the engine to the 16 valve version that Triumph offered in the Dolomite Sprint and in a very few TR7’s. There’s a kit to do that right here, but it’s not inexpensive. The third option would be to turn the car into a TR7V8, probably using TR8 components. This was my plan with my TR7, although that probably won’t happen now (if you want to buy the conversion parts and engine, let me know!). Assume for a moment you own this car; which route would you take? Or would you do something else altogether?

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Comments

  1. Mark P

    That upholstery looks really close to upholstery in a 1977 Matador wagon I had.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      I found out today from a wedge expert that reads BarnFinds that the original upholstery is available from Rimmer Brothers in the UK.

  2. Howard A

    It seems TR-7’s show up here quite often. That’s more TR-7’s I think I’ve ever seen, ever. What is that, a 15 blade fan? When you look at that ad, you can just see how out of place the TR-7 was compared to previous models. While these cars still embody the “wind in your hair ( if any) syndrome”, it was just too far out there for the time. One of the very few British roadsters I never cared for, and apparently, I wasn’t alone.

  3. Lee Hartman

    I agree with Howard. I never cared for the TR-7 or TR-8. Loved the older ones, though. They weren’t the most powerful things out there, but they were sure fun to drive!

    • Chuck F.

      Have to agree with you and Howard. I was a serious Triumph fan back then. Owned several Spitfires and always wanted a TR. When these came out, I abandoned Triumph for a series of Datsun ‘Z’ cars. After the Z’s came a RX7 then a Corvette and a few Porsches. Now, I’m back to that TR6 I always wanted. Hopefully someday, I’ll get it finished.

  4. JW454

    Only 250 miles away and I have a good engine…. Hummmm…

  5. John T

    Head gasket leak means new head required. Hopefully you can salvage the block. When they developed the engine Triumph/Saab had the great idea to put half of the head bolts in at an angle (so you could re-torque the heads without removing the cam cover). Problem is, the head bolts shear off and leave the head pinned to the block (because of the angle). The only way to get the head off after that was to slip a piece of shim stock in (to save the block) then hack saw the bolt…….

    • Doug J

      I have replaced many TR7 and Stag head gaskets, John T has no idea what he is talking about.

      • John T

        Ever have a head bolt snap Doug J? Lucky you.

      • Wayne S

        Agree with Doug J, and have replaced my fair share of such gaskets as well. We have a tool to deal with the stuck stud problem. I wish this car were closer to me. I’d have it purring in a week. So would Doug. And yes, I have snapped studs before I knew better how to deal with them.

  6. scott

    how about a hot ‘Merican v6 engine swap?

  7. Steve

    It’s not the car in the ad.. That is now in the UK

  8. AMC STEVE

    Go for it JW454!

    • JW454

      I’m very tempted. I have one project in the paint shop and one waiting right now but I am tempted.

  9. LeeG

    The upholstery for the seats is available from The Roadster Factory as well as Rimmer Brothers in the U.K. Like AMC Steve said … Go for it JW454!

  10. john

    TR7 are growing on me…..They are “colour sensitive”though as they have so many black plastic parts. This one in “doom red” is not a good colour to enhance their shape. Bright colours suit them best.
    The engine would not worry me much, plenty of people out there can deal with that engine. To be fair converting it to TR8 spec might be cheaper in the long run.

  11. Greg

    Nice find! If you haven’t driven a TR7, they’re a lot of fun.

    More power… LSx instead of an aging Rover v8?

  12. Arthur Brown

    A possible fourth option – that may make you howl – but that I know works having seen it done and ridden in the result 0 is to completely replace the drivetrain with a 2 litre german ford four from a Pinto. Not a restoration but give you a really nice drivable car with no worries.

    The 2 litre four, transmission and rear axle from the Pinto bolt in without modification – literally no mods! No cutting, welding , anything! The Pinot motor mounts bolt to the same mount points on the TR7 as well as the transmission mounts. The springs in the rear bolt to the pads on the ford axle! You don’t even have to shorten the drive shaft. The person that showed me this was as amazed as I was. He said it was as if it had been designed using the dimensions from the early Pinto sedan as the pattern for the TR7. The resulting car ran great. The hood closed over the Pinto 4 like it was made that way. Knowing this I’ve always kept my eye out for a good looking but dead TR7 with the thought of having a fun driver for cheap, but finding the Pinto parts is now becoming a challenge but not nearl the challenge of repairing the Triumph engine.

    The worst tale On those I’ve heard is one of my college dorm mates’ was idling at the stop light and heard a ping followed by billows of steam from under the hood. The head had cracked form a casting flaw. Rather than wait the six months required for the new head he returned the car to the dealer and got something else.

  13. John

    I remember owning a 1980 TR7 Spyder convertible in 1995, black in color. Lotsa plastic, weird front end components, bizarre electrical foibles noted as well. Stylish but slow. One day the plastic oil pressure sender cracked open on the highway and emptied the motors lubricant…somehow it survived. You couldn’t give me another one, I would rather have an MG, TR6, Spitfire or Austin Healey any day.

    • John T

      And don’t forget the Lucas headlight switches that literally come apart in your hand and leave you with two plastic plungers, two springs, two copper rockers and what is left of the switch handle in your hand. Oh yes, and don’t ever use the headlight flash function since that will destroy the detent that switches between low and high, leaving the stalk limp and your headlights flickering between low and high as you drive home (assuming the headlight switch hasn’t already failed). Maybe Doug J is trying to unload this car. Caveat Emptor

  14. john C

    Hudson,…Home of the Alsides company and Terex back in the day….And Saywells and the clock tower. Good town !! Great teachers, though I gave them a run I guess…

  15. Keith Matheny

    Yes, real close to me too! And I’ve been thinking that the SHO motor we have would fit just fine.
    Anyone say TR 7.5, lol!
    But the bidding is going up to runner status, too bad.
    Might just go look at it anyway, but the spider needs a trans first.
    Still,,,,?

  16. jim s

    sold for $ 2225. did anyone on the site buy it?

  17. Kent Pearson

    replacing the engine with the venerable Rover
    V-8 which is the usual replacement for Triumph
    V-8 in the stag, The other suggestion is an American V-8. Of course the answer is you can do both since the Rover V-8 is the Buick made under license.

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