Vintage R&T Review: Triumph’s TR7 – Britain’s Last Great Hope in the Sports Car Sector

The arrival Triumph TR-7 was a very big deal. Great Britain had essentially created the whole 1950s-1960s sports car boom after the war with its MG TC/TD, Jaguar XK-120, and Triumph TR-2/3.  These were the bedrock of a market sector that once was very hot, and enjoyed wide public interest and a very decided image and related prestige. But as is so well known, the classic British roadsters were built for way to long, and were all getting obsolete by the 1970s.

Meanwhile, the Japanese were on the attack, most of all with the Datsun 240Z, which turned the market on its head for its unbeatable price/performance ratio as well as for being a coupe. The Italians were also aggressive, with the Fiat 124 Spider and the spunky X 1/9, and Porsche re-entered the lower-mid end of the market with their mid-engined 914.

The TR-7 was BL’s last chance to save a significant share of the sports car market for Great Britain. It had many quite strong qualities, as well as some weaknesses. R&T takes a very close look at it here, and identifies what those are.

R&T notes that the old-style British roadsters currently didn’t handle and perform as well as many contemporary sedans. So what’s the point? The TR-7 was designed to address those shortcomings, due to a stiff new structure, relatively modern suspension and a decent-performing engine.

R7T notes that in size and engine output, the TR-7 is very similar to the original TR-2. Sadly, the TR-2 was faster, but in terms of other qualities, the TR-7 had it beat hands down, especially in terms of efficiency, brakes, comfort, safety, handling and steering.

 

Yes, a 11.3 second 0-60 time was not much to crow about, even in 1975. The Datsun 240Z was considerably faster.

 

The TR-7’s well-controlled solid rear axle was deemed superior to the TR-6s IRS, which was always a rather less than very sophisticated design. But the result is still a rear end not as well controlled as a good IRS.

Not surprisingly, visibility was criticized, a consequence of the questionably styling of the TR-7.

 

Yes, it was a controversial design, based on some pretty radical wedge concepts by Harris Mann. BL was obviously going for something of a Hail Mary pass with the TR-7’s design, and needless to say, it did not score.

 

The TR-7 has been a popular subject at CC:

1976 TR7 Fixed Head Coupe_ The Case For The Defence   Roger Carr

1976 Triumph TR7: America Gets A Wedgie   Jeff Nelson

1979 Triumph TR7 Drophead – Hot Stuff  Joseph Dennis

Triumph TR7 — The Shape of Things to Come; Or Not  Robert Kim