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Ultra Cheap: 1978 Triumph TR7

We’ve seen some pretty inexpensive project cars over the years here at Barn Finds, but this 1978 Triumph TR7 has to rate amongst the cheapest. If you have always had a desire to take on one of these as a project, then the fact that this one has been listed with a BIN of $699 with the option to make an offer, has to make it a tempting proposition. The Triumph is located in Golden, Colorado, and is listed for sale here on eBay.

On the surface, this TR7 looks remarkably solid. Rust could definitely be the enemy of these little cars, but the owner says that the only rust present is in the front fender on the passenger side, and in the trunk lid. Even so, what can be seen appears to be little more than surface corrosion. The fact that the Triumph has been stored indoors since 1984 will certainly have helped its cause. The Yellow paint is showing its age and there are a few dings and dents, but for a project car that is priced below $700, it looks really good. The wheels aren’t original, and the Triumph is also fitted with an aftermarket sunroof. I know the wedge styling of the TR7 is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve often wondered how much better the car would look if the bumpers and the ventilation grilles on the rear pillars were color-coded to the vehicle’s paint color. Depending on the shade, I think that it has the potential to make a fairly significant difference, and that is something that could be worth investigating.

One nice thing about this particular Triumph’s interior is that it doesn’t feature the distinctive tartan upholstery. Some people like it, but many don’t. Instead, what you get is the factory Beige trim, and it looks to be in quite good condition. The car has been fitted with a radio/cassette player and aftermarket speakers, and while the upholstery on the door trims is a bit stretched, I think that it could be pulled back into shape. I also think that the dash pad might have a crack in it, but I’m not completely sure. The armrest on the console has also begun to deteriorate, but fix those couple of things and stretch the upholstery on the door trims back into place, and the inside of the TR7 will look quite good. As an added bonus, the little Brit is fitted with air conditioning.

Powering the Triumph is the 1,998cc 4-cylinder engine, backed by a 5-speed manual transmission. Actually, that engine doesn’t power the car, as it hasn’t been run since 1988. It might be able to be revived, but given its unknown state, it would probably be worth the effort to pull the engine and treat it to a rebuild. Otherwise, the car is mechanically complete and comes with an assortment of parts to help keep it on the road. These parts include some interior trim items, along with parts for the braking system, and official repair manuals for both the TR7 and a specific one for the carburetors.

Cheap and cheerful? Yep, I think that it is. If the TR7 is as rust-free as the owner claims, then I really fail to see how the next owner could lose out on the car. Even if they towed it home and found that it was beyond salvation, it has to be worth more than the BIN if it was parted out. If I lived closer, then I’d probably snap this one up in a flash. Do we have any takers amongst our readers?


  1. rpol35

    “Powering the Triumph is the 1,998cc 4-cylinder engine, backed by a 5-speed manual transmission. Actually, that engine doesn’t power the car, as it hasn’t been run since 1988.”

    That explains everything. Based on a good friend’s experience with a ’77 version, back in ’77, I’d run far & fast. You name it and it went wrong.

    I’m amazed that this car still exists; not surprised about the running issue but even at that it ran for 20 years, remarkable!

    Like 1
  2. Rodney - GSM

    A beautiful wedge of lemon.

    Like 6
    • Russell

      Could be used to keep a large door open somewhere…

      Like 8
  3. Ben T Spanner

    No, it is not worth the time, money or effort to rebuild the engine, or to replace it with something different. This would be a nice body donor for a rusty TR7. Still a hard sell. Market price for a TR7 coupe that doesn’t run ? Maybe $700.

    Like 4

      Can you expound on that comment Bent, why wouldn’t it be worth a rebuild if i just want to drive it?

      Like 1
      • Lynn Dockey Member

        U haven’t had the pleasure? Of owning one if u have to ask that ?

        Like 1
    • MarveH

      I disagree. A rebuild of the 8 valve engine is no biggy especially if you do the disassembly and reassembly yourself. The lump is simple enough to do just that. This is a late fixed head coupe, they are getting rare. You have the tightness of the roof combined with the better build quality of a later production run.
      All in for driver quality, you could be a $3K with the engine work, brakes, and suspension. You could save the cosmetics for later, and in the mean time enjoy a unique practical classic.
      A guy at Autoweek has done a recent series of articles about restoring a 79 TR7 coupe that is well worth the read. here ya go: https://autoweek.com/article/diy/project-tr7-were-working-what

      Like 4
      • Lynn Dockey Member

        Lucas. The man who invented darkness.

        Like 3
  4. Wayne Moyer

    This just screams 24 hours of LeMons candidate. That and you would get to do a BaT theme somehow.

    Like 2
  5. seth karpen

    had a 76 tr7. it was a blast to drive.
    Happier and quieter at 80 mph than 60 mph

    Like 1
  6. JeremyD

    The shape of the rear quarters reminds me of the Mustang II. Strange, but I can’t unsee it…

    Like 0
  7. Lynn Dockey Member

    Run away now. Send me the $700 dollars and we can call it even. I saved u a hell of a lot more than that

    Like 0
  8. steve

    That engine is a nightmare, as I recall. Tended to blow head gaskets. This was made all the worse by having 4 rows of head bolts with the outer rows at an andle AND the tendancy to snap off upon removal. If you could get the head forced up high enough, it was possible to cut the offending bolts with a sawsall. Such FUN!

    Like 3
    • JoeNYWF64

      Surely there must be some garden variety carbureted mainstream motor(domestic or foreign) that can be swapped in using a trans adaper.
      That is 1 big sunroof – might have compromized the structure even more than t-tops.
      Seen too many shop “restored” interiors with wrinkles.
      How were originals from “ancient non computerized/left coke bottle inside a door times” made wrinkle free?
      On THIS particular non Asian import I can see the reason for the small “vent windows” else the windows could not retract into the doors.
      But i do not understand why they do not open!
      Silly voltmeter gage with no numbers on it.
      Same with temp gage(not shown) on other side.

      Like 0
  9. seth karpen

    My 1976 had a genuine Lucas 12,000 mile aternator.

    Like 3
  10. Comet


    Like 0
  11. Doug

    There is a REASON why it was parked when only 6 years old…..
    or maybe lots of little reasons why it wasn’t worth fixing then….

    Don’t walk away – RUN !

    Like 2
  12. Lynn Dockey Member

    U must have owned a triumph. I had the 80 TR7. The dealer told me the factory workers had a few too many when they made my car.

    Like 1
  13. Martin

    You guys really miss the point of the classic car hobby. This is a unique, sporty dead simple car that would make a great project. you can rebuild that engine for about $200, and the rest of the car for not much more to make a fun driver.

    Like 3
    • Seth KARPEN

      if it was on the east coast I would be interested

      Like 0
      • Lynn Dockey Member

        Be glad ur not.

        Like 1
  14. Lynn Dockey Member

    I disagree. Not fun when the Lucas electronic gremlins hit when u r first in line at a red light at a major intersection and u r trying to impress a hot chick with ur TR7. Been there done that. BTW she didn’t become my wife. Happy ending for me.

    Like 1
  15. Charlie Strunk

    John’s cars in Dallas used to make kit to put a 231 Buick in these. I did it with a turbo 350. Real easy swap.Makes a nice little driver with all the British junk gone.
    I put the car away for 20 years and I am working on bringing it back to life now!

    Like 1
  16. Dougie

    He doesn’t want to pay to haul it to the crusher.

    Like 1
  17. Lynn Dockey Member

    triumph did make a V8 model of this car They named it the TR8. i dont know how reliable they were compared to the 7 but they were fast

    Like 0
  18. bobhess bobhess Member

    We race with a close friend who runs a ’77 Vintage roadster. When he’s not racing he’s changing head gaskets, milling heads and blocks etc. just to keep it going. Thought seriously about starting a TR7 head gasket business but he didn’t think much of that idea.

    Like 2
  19. Lynn Dockey Member

    The friend has a built in excuse to never be home. “Honey, I have to put a new head gasket on the Triumph again”

    Like 1
  20. Mitch Ross Member

    Didn’t the Saab 99 use this same engine? I’ve seen those with lots and lots of miles. There should be non Lucas replacements for many electrical items. As someone else stated, cheap, fun, and this is a hobby, you know

    Like 0
    • Seth KARPEN

      if i remember correctly engine was a joint saab renault triumph project

      Like 0
  21. bobhess bobhess Member

    Lynn.. You don’t know how right you are! Good thing she’s got a major hobby that keeps her busy.

    Like 0


    Like 0
  23. Bryan Cohn

    I really enjoy the comments about electrical problems, especially when in the context of a 40-ish year old car. I’m into Peugeot’s, have been since racing a 505 Turbo in the late 80’s. Today when people buy one the first thing to tackle is often minor electrical gremlins that are almost always fixed by simply going around the car and cleaning EVERY ground wire contact. The same kind of basics would apply to any imported car from the 70’s and 80’s.

    Looks like a fun project car from my seat in the stadium. The hobby is supposed to be about celebrating each other and our individual interests not tearing others down because they like a different challenge than you. The world would be awful boring if it was all ’72 Duster’s and ’69 Camaro’s.

    Like 0
    • Lynn Dockey Member

      My car had the gremlins from new. Did the salty sea air cause that? My 2014 Holden (Chevy SS) spent 63 days on a cruise and did nt have those problems. IMO u can’t excuse shoddy production on rust.

      Like 0
  24. Gerrit Schippers

    I wonder if this early model had a 5 speed gearbox, but I am interested

    Like 0

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