Rare V8-Powered Roadster: 1980 Triumph TR8

The Triumph TR8 is one of those cars I still yearn to own, despite having no practical reason to own one. I even have an inside line on a desirable fuel-injected TR8, but I just can’t get myself to plop down the dollars required to own it. This TR8 is the carbureted version which tends to trade for slightly less money than the injected model, but the bottom line these days is that this is a $10,000 car in running condition. It’s definitely one of those models you should have grabbed five or ten years ago when their obscurity kept values fairly flat. This one looks quite clean with no discernable rust, and the seller describes it as “ready to finish.” Find it here on craigslist in Knoxville, TN for $9,500.

The TR8 is one of those wonderfully weird vehicles that is effectively an answer to a question nobody asked. Still, who among us is going to deny the appeal of a compact car with a V8 under the hood? The TR7 was always meant to have a V8, but the first few years of production saw various headwinds prevent it from happening. Once the Rover-sourced V8 was installed, the car became an instant hit, albeit in limited quantities. Triumph simply didn’t make many of these, and most of the cars that did get sold went to the United States and Canada. You could spec your TR8 in coupe or convertible form, but most of the eight-cylinder cars I’ve seen are the latter.

The seller reports having installed a new fuel tank, pump, and Edelbrock intake, but doesn’t explicitly say that it’s a runner. In terms of mentioning that it still needs finishing, I’d wager this TR8 isn’t exactly daily driver-ready. There’s no overview offered about the interior, which seems like it’s been used for storage as of late. Still, the good news is that the Triumph has been kept in dry storage for years, and the photos seem to bear this out in terms of the condition of the body and the original TR8 graphics. If this car had been stored outside for any significant period of time, I can assure you those sweet TR8 graphics would be long gone.

The paint looks quite tidy, too, another benefit to years of enclosed storage. The seller indicates he’s been slowly rebuilding this TR8 back to road-going condition, but for whatever reason, this is where he is choosing to stop. The seller notes he has rebuilt the suspension and the brakes, in addition to the fuel system work. Given he doesn’t mention any specifics around how well it runs, I’m guessing there’s still some work to be done to get this TR8 into reliable runner condition. In the meantime, feast your ears on some of the videos on YouTube that capture the exhaust noise this eight-cylinder wedge makes: it’s glorious, and reason enough to go buy one.

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Comments

  1. John Harmer

    The Tr8 needs some one to clay bar all of the paint and buff it out because they are only original once. A new top and finish out the mechanicals and a dual exhaust and it wood be quite aride with a nice rumble to the exhaust with a V8.

    Like 5
  2. PJRoos

    I drove one of these for a week when my car was in the shop, when they called to tell me that my car was fixed and ready for pick-up I told them I didn’t know what they were talking about I was quite happy with what I am driving now. Unfortunately they still made me give the TR-8 back.

    Like 6
  3. Laurence

    Personally I would buy a ’73 or ’74 C-3 Stingray for something in similar condition for similar money. However, I tip my hat to Rover for having stuck with the early 1960s Buick V-8. Buick had thought it could play the game of some British and Italian manufacturers, of producing an alloy engine that would make plenty of horsepower yet be “feather-light”. However, Buick found out the hard way that the only way to make such an engine work properly, was to HAND-MACHINE it…at great cost. As such labour costs were prohibitive and the assembly line would have to move too slowly by Detroit standards, Buick was glad to sell the production rights to Rover, who knew that it would have to hand-machine the bores and the heads, but chose to do so for select models. A small alloy V-8 weighing LESS than an MGB four cylinder, and putting out close to double the power, was an irresistible proposition for much lighter English cars.

    The computer technology that came along in the 1980s allowed Rover to skip the manual machining, by having computers compensate for the warpage of aluminium once the bores and heads cooled down in their production moulds. This paved the way for the rest of the automotive industry, including after-market manufacturers such as Edelbrock, to easily produce precision alloy components. Rover made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, while being technologically in the crow’s nest, pointing the way for everyone else.

    Like 2
  4. SMS

    You might be disappointed with the stock TR8 if you expect a hot rod. They are not too much more powerful than the 7 and they still have the soft suspension. But if you want a roomy interior they are very nice and quite easy to hop up. Had a friend that added some go fast parts and stiffened the suspension. It really brought the car to life.

    As for being practical, you are missing something. Driving one with the top down will reduce your stress. If you have a significant other, take a Sunday cruise for a nice meal just the two of you. If you have kids spend time together working on the car and going to car shows together. I have found English sports cars and motorcycles to be the most practical vehicles.

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