The year was 1987 and I sat anxiously awaiting my dad’s return from work. That’s when I saw it, a wedge-like but sleek, cherry red, sports car. My dad came in and asked if I wanted to go for a ride with him; I squealed with excitement and rushed to get my shoes and coat. I bolted out of the door as fast as my five-year old legs could carry me. I jumped into the car and snuggled down into the sheepskin seat covers of the passenger side. I was in heaven; this started my love affair with the TR7.
In the early 1970’s, British car companies were looking for a way to capitalize on the sports car market going on in the U.S. This is when the Triumph Motor Company (part of British Leyland) cleverly decided to advertise their newly designed TR7 sports car as “The Shape of Things to Come”. This catch-phrase came from the “wedge-like” front end of the vehicle and its unique and sleek design. The designer, Harris Mann, designed a vehicle that was 160 inches in length, 66 inches in width and 49.5 inches tall, weighing 2205lbs. During production, the TR7s code name was “Bullet”.
The original vehicles were built at the Speke, Liverpool factory, which launched its first fleet of 92bhp 69kW 1998cc 8-valve four-cylinder engine TR7s to the United States in January of 1975. The same factory then launched a fleet of 105bhp, 78kW 1998cc 8-valve four-cylinder engine TR7s to their homeland of the United Kingdom in May of 1976; the delay in release to the UK was due to the high production demand of the U.S. By 1976, the TR7s had a 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission option. They also included front and rear anti roll bars, disc brakes in the front and drums in the rear as standard options.
Production problems occurred at the Speke factory due to worker strikes, shutdowns, and inexperienced workers. This caused the production of the TR7s to be moved to a Canley, Coventry factory in 1978. It was at this factory that the TR8 was created for the United States only. It featured a 135bhp (101kW) 3.5L Rover V8 engine. These cars were rare due to the poor build quality and their expense (the British pound equaled $2.40). It was also at this factory that the first TR7 Drophead convertible was built. It was released in the U.S. in 1979 (belatedly due to regulations on convertibles) and then released in the U.K. in 1980. After this release, production of the TR7 was moved to the Rover plant in Solihuil (1980) until production was halted in October of 1981. A total of 112,368 hard top and 28,864 convertible top TR7s were produced.
The TR7s did not go totally unnoticed in the media world during their production years. In fact, a yellow TR7 was driven by the character Purdey in the popular British secret agent television show The New Avenger. In 1978, Coca-Cola and Levi ran a promotion in which the top prizes were 3 TR7s that were decorated in red and white, Coca-Cola themed designs and featured denim upholstery, jean patch pockets on the doors interior, a 12V refrigerator in the back and a television in the glove compartment. Only 1 of the 3 vehicles still exist.