Rare Bargain: 1980 Triumph TR7 Spider

Offered at a bargain price here on craigslist in Midvale, Utah, near Salt Lake City, is this very spiffy and rare 1980 Triumph TR7 Spider. C’mon, it’s mechanically sound, with 54,935 miles on the odometer, and has no accidents, rust or “drama.” The asking price? Just $2,000, and the owner is even looking for offers. I’m surprised it’s still available, but perhaps the Salt Lake City location is too far away for some prospective buyers?

The car benefits from new tires, top and battery. In the few photos with the top up, it looks excellent and well-fitted. These cars look better as convertibles, but the soft-top model is comparatively rare.

It’s unclear if the carpets are missing or the owner just removed them to show how good the floors are. And, indeed, they look great, with only a splattering of surface rust. The seats look decent, well at least the covers on them look good. Besides the carpets, the only other missing thing appears to be a radio, but that’s an easy fix. The door cards got mauled for speaker installation, but at least there are speakers.

This car is from near the end of production. The TR7 made its U.S. debut in early 1975, before it was sold in England. The wedge-shaped styling by Harris Mann is an acquired taste—it grows on you. This was a period of intense labor strife for British Leyland, and build quality for the TR7 (and later TR8) was, at best, spotty. The North American version of the car got a two-liter four-cylinder engine producing a fairly anemic 105 horsepower. The saving grace was the car’s low weight, just 2,205 pounds.

A switch to the Triumph Dolomite Sprint engine might have been a good idea, since those produced a more sprightly 127 hp. Some pre-production cars had that engine. A four-speed manual was standard in the TR7, though a five-speed box was available, and a three-speed auto joined the fray in 1976. It’s unclear whether this is the four- or five-speed, though it’s definitely manual. The car had disc brakes in the front, drums in the rear.

The TR8 was the version that finally delivered the power that American buyers wanted, using the 3.5-liter V-8 originally sourced from Buick, but by the time it appeared, it was too little, too late. British Leyland was falling apart, and not many were sold—and even fewer in England. Here are the final numbers: 112,368 hardtop TR7s, 28,864 convertibles, and approximately 2,500 V8-engined TR8s.

Since the TR7 on offer looks like a turn-key car, what are you waiting for? These don’t turn up very often, and this is a very, very good deal if the car is as nice as it looks. No, they don’t have a lot of power, but the upside is excellent fuel economy. Officially they got around 25 mpg, but some owners claim that 40 mpg is possible.

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Comments

  1. duke reed

    boys and girls—THIS IS NOT A SPIDER
    that was a limited production car that was all black with red 3m pin-striping and spider graphics and laurel wreath

    THIS car is just a regular tr 7 convertible

    no mystery here

    Like 1
    • Kaelan

      Hey Duke, I’m sending information to Barn Finds as soon as possible to fill some discrepancies in the ad, but this is a Spider. The numbers match a build card from the warehouse for the Spider edition, it was just repainted to white before I had it.

      Like 1
  2. BarnfindyCollins

    Too much money and not enough spider left. Yes it was one of the carb model spider editions, but it has been repainted the wrong color, the unique carpet is gone and lord knows what condition it’s original seat covers are in. As for no rust, take a look at the panel at the front where water collects. Looks crusty to me. That state is known for salty roads and no pictures below. I’d love to see another spider edition saved but check your checkbook first!

    Like 2
  3. John D.

    I believe I read that the 5 speeds were produced in a different facility and had better quality. I also believe the convertibles were all 5 speeds. I can be corrected if anyone has first hand knowledge. This does seem like a great deal and may be worth the loong road trip, perfect for a V6 conversion.

    • Paul T Root

      I had a 1980 TR7 when I was in San Diego. The 5 speed failed on I-5 in Orange County in the 4th lane over.
      I made it off and up the off ramp, but only because it wasn’t open season on the highway then.
      The replacement used (not rebuilt) 5 speed was pretty good, not great. I sold the car within a year after replacing that.
      The 4 speed in my MGBs was much better.

      • Lynn Member

        I had an 80 TR7. Very first day I drove it the throttle linkage unhooked itself. Things only went downhill from there

        Like 1
  4. glen

    That’s quite a door gap! I do like the look of these , though. The white won’t burn when I put my arm out the window.

    Like 1
  5. art

    Bought one of these in red in 1996 for $3750 with about 34k miles on it. A blast to drive but when it developed a blown head gasket, things got expensive. An aluminum head fitted over steel studs, yikes. Two dissimilar metals having a go at it. Three weeks of daily penetrating oil by the repair shop and tappy, tappy, tappy each day and the head would raise only about half way up the studs. They eventually had to break off the head and I was fortunate to be able to obtain a NOS bare head as a replacement. After she was all repaired, I sold her. Just no longer into quirky British engineering. The shape still looks good to me and this one seems very fairly priced, just be aware of the pitfalls.

    Like 3
  6. Stangalang

    Well we know the engine runs..I see the fan blade spinning and not bad for the asking price..but I’m wondering why it hasn’t already sold

    Like 1
  7. Ken Kittleson

    I bought a maroon ’80 TR7 5-speed convert in 2008 for $500 and sold it ten tears later……for $500.

    Like 1
  8. davew833

    I’m in Salt Lake City near where this car is. I suspect it’s not selling because convertibles aren’t exactly big sellers in Utah in December. Being RWD doesn’t aid the cause either. I’d like to see what the seats look like under the covers– the Spider had unique seat fabric that’s difficult to source now. Still looks like a solid car.

    The saddest thing I ever saw at a local Utah Pick-n-Pull a few years ago was another 1980 TR7 Spider still in original black with red stripes, intact and largely unmolested, with the ultra-rare fuel injection option (less than 1000 produced). this particular junkyard did not sell complete cars, so I had to console myself with buying the 3-spoke steering wheel and the shift knob and taking a few pictures. I still wish I could have rescued that one.

    Like 1
  9. H5mind

    What appears to be a door gap is actually black plastic edge trim. A close up of the shift knob shows a five speed pattern. Our definition of rust must vary, because a large section of paint is missing from the passenger door and that definitely looks like tin worm there. The carpets probably disintegrated from the Utah sun. Who cares about originality in a TR7? The best one in the country probably wouldn’t sell for more than $5K.

    Like 3
    • glen

      ok thanks

  10. Howard A Member

    Like I said on the newer TR7 coupe post, nobody wants these. They didn’t then and a tough sell today. I think it’s a great price and the only affordable British roadster left. When I was looking for a sports car, I completely overlooked these cars, but today, looks like a heck of a deal.

    Like 1
  11. Hemidavey

    Pure automotive JUNK ! Someone should kick top guys at British Leyland in the balls. I’ve had several British sports cars, lots of fun and well built. Not these, had two- never again not even for free!

    Like 2
    • Lynn Member

      Like the old meatloaf song said. “You took the words right of my mouth”

  12. Kelly Breen

    They stopped developing the TR-6 the Midget and the MGB so it could be replaced by this car. It is not as terrible as often claimed, and it may become a classic, but I dislike what it represented. The merger of all those great British companies was a disaster. Imagine if Ford GM and Dodge were forced to merge and senior management was kept only based on seniority. Then deciding which plants stayed open and which ones were rationalised was based entirely on political partisanship you would have a better understanding why Leyland was such a cancer to the British motor industry.
    Even in Canada the wedge seldom tops $4500 but an MGB is generally well over 8k.

  13. Barry

    Dolemite is my name and f’ing up… oh sorry I thought this was a movie review site. OK all kidding aside looks somewhat desirable.

  14. Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

    Around 1987 I had a 1980 white one with red plaid interior, it came from a shop that did a head job and owner didn’t pay for it. It ran really good, until it dropped a valve. I always wanted a TR8, and got one several years ago, a project that is too rusty to restore, but using a TR7 donor might work. It’s at the bottom of my list, along with a Reatta convertible that’s hit in both rear quarters.

  15. Little_Cars

    What a shame, all the uniqueness of the Spider variation was ruined…and by what color change? A staid white paint job(?) In black, these cars have character and the wedge shape was not so pronounced. By changing the color, not replacing the graphics (sorry you could at least put a different shade of laurels on the front, Kaelan) and the other interior things mentioned this is just a modestly priced used car. And this is coming from someone who loves British cars!

  16. David Brown

    I called left a number checked on a shipper got the shipping price want the car but never got a call back from the seller

    • Kaelan

      Hi David, I don’t remember getting a call from you! If you could call or text the number in the ad again I’d be happy to chat with you, I’m sorry if it was my fault.

  17. Lynn Member

    IMO he did u a favor

  18. SteveR

    Something odd here, at least to my tired old eyes. The shifter inside the car sure looks like a 4-speed to me, but none of these later cars would have had anything but a 5-speed. Like this one, the 4-speed shifter sits all the way forward against the center console and has a short stick. The 5-speed sits a few inches further back and has a noticeably taller stick. Nobody in their right mind would have replaced a late 5-speed with an early 4-speed, so I must be wrong, but that sure is what it looks like to me. (I’ve owned my TR7 since it was new in 1976, so I’ve seen a lot of them over the years.)

    • Lynn

      Ur words say it all when u said in their right mind.

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