During the Sixties, the British Leyland gradually turned out to be Britain’s native automotive industry. It has successfully acquired AEC, ROVER/Alvis, Triumph Motor Company, and eventually, the British Motor Holdings with Jaguar. After these acquisitions, one of the products Triumph has produced under Leyland was the TR7. Manufacturing of the Triumph TR7 kicked off in September 1974 and ended in October 1981.
1974: The early TR7
The first TR7 was launched in the US in January 1975; it made its debut in the UK in May 1976. This Triumph sports car sold well in the American market, causing its introduction in the UK to be delayed at least twice due to high demands in the US.
The initial Triumph TR7 was known for its wedge shape, which was advertised during those years as “the shape of the things to come.” Power was derived from a 105 bhp 1,998 cc eight-valve four-cylinder engine that was mounted in-line at the car’s front. It was fitted with a rear-wheel-drive system and four-speed gearbox. It also received anti-roll bars at the front and rear, with front disc brakes and rear drum brakes.
It was in 1976 when British Leyland started to run a team of TR7s in rally competitions. These rallying TR7s were fitted with 16-valve Dolomite Sprint engine, which was later replaced by the Rover V8 engine. Tony Pond was recognized as the most successful driver of these TR7 rally cars.
In 1977, the TR7 got a revised interior trim. A convertible version was also developed. This new variant was outfitted with lights featuring integral switches in each door card, and map light, which is positioned between the seats on the back panel. The Triumph TR7 convertible also got a smaller fuel filler cap. All these modifications were also received by the TR7 hard top, which was released for the 1978 model year. It was also in 1978 when the V8-engined TR7 was developed. This variant later became the Triumph TR8.
1979: The TR7 Drophead Coupe and TR7 convertible
In early 1979, Triumph introduced the TR7 Drophead Coupe for the U.S. market. A small number of this car reached Speke in 1978, and the British market had it in early 1980. Designed by Michelotti, the TR7 convertible looked better than the coupe. Triumph needed to work hard on the structural modifications to ensure torsional rigidity. Even with the addition of harmonic balancing weights in the front bumpers, the convertible only got slightly heavier. It was able to maintain the required stiffness so as not to compromise handling.
The production of Triumph TR7 was axed in 1981 when the Solihull factory stopped producing cars. This move was part of the rationalization implemented by British Leyland’s boss, Sir Michael Edwardes.