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Spanning Triumph’s controversial wedge: 1975 TR7 and 1980 TR8 brochures

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Brochure images are from the collection of Hemmings Motor News, courtesy of Bruce Zahor

“The shape of things to come.” Indeed, the styling of Triumph’s final sports car would remain timely more than a decade after its 1975 introduction, even -in the case of the now-trendy rising swage line- up to the present day. The TR7 was planned as a coupe, but its shape took perfectly to decapitation, and although it was controversial from the start, it ended life as a comfortable, well-sorted, desirable, and -in the case of the TR8- a suitably powerful sports car.

The TR7’s dramatic design originated with British Leyland stylist Harris Mann, and its solid roof was a safety feature for the hugely important U.S. market, through which there were rumblings of outlawing convertibles in the mid-1970s. It’s true that longtime TR enthusiasts also complained about this car’s solid rear axle (versus the TR6’s independent rear), 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (ditto the TR6’s 2.5-liter straight-six), and plastic-intensive instrument panel (no sign of genuine wood trim). The car’s build quality would, in early years, be an unfortunate victim of Britain’s labor unrest.

Maple brown 1975 TR7 wearing an accessory silver stripe kit.

In its home market, the 1975 TR7’s 1,998-cc ( slant-four SOHC engine made 105 hp and 119-lb.ft. of torque, about 20 more in each measure than did Federalized versions. A four-speed manual transmission was the only choice at first, while a five-speed manual was standard by 1977, with a three-speed Borg Warner Model 65 automatic becoming optional in states outside of California.

This four-cylinder engine, tilted 45-degrees to the right, first appeared in the Triumph Dolomite and Saab 99.

Triumph introduced the TR7 convertible in 1979, with the first examples reaching dealerships that July. Production began at the Canley plant, before moving to the Rover plant in Solihull in 1980. It was that year that the TR7 Spider special editions were built, and that the TR8 began arriving in the U.S.

Special emblem decals, a central double-bulge bonnet/hood, and 13-inch alloy wheels set the TR8 apart, although certain TR7s also received this hood and wheels.

The TR8 was powered by Rover’s famous all-aluminum 3.5-liter V-8, rather than Triumph’s own 3.0-liter unit from the Stag, and the former engine -itself originally a Buick design, would be refined by the Brits, and fitted with Zenith-Stromberg carburetors or electronic fuel-injection. Most examples were mated to a five-speed manual transmission, although a Borg-Warner three-speed automatic was available.

Twin carbs were found on 133 hp, 49-state-spec TR8s in 1980, while California cars -and all 1981 models- used Bosch-Lucas EFI to make 148 hp.

When the last TR7s and TR8s were built in the fall of 1981, roughly 115,000 TR7s were on the world’s roads, compared to fewer than 3,000 TR8s. As we can see from these brochures, which represent virtually the entire production run of this platform, Triumph didn’t make major changes, but detail refinements.

We’d happily drive a sunroof-equipped TR7 Coupe, a TR7 Spider, and a TR8 fitted with that snazzy tartan interior. Have you ever experienced the last of the TRs?

Click on the brochure images below to enlarge.