To be honest, I’m not a great fan of convertibles – like American legislators in the 1970s, I much prefer the security and style of a sculptured tin-top. And while I’ll be pilloried for saying this, drop the roof on most sports cars and many of them look broadly similar; a long, thin cigar shape on wheels. The TR7, though, is different. Its distinctive love-it-or-hate-it wedgeshape makes it stand out from the crowd, lending it a rakish, rather purposeful presence that is much more handsome than its many detractors will admit to in public. Yes, I know that there were quality control issues, that it emerged from British Leyland during its nadir, and it was part of the Harris Mann trilogy that included the Allegro and Princess. But I always love an underdog… and the fact that other people can’t means it’s still competitively priced. Besides, it has pop-up headlamps and tartan-covered seats – a seductive combination if ever there was one.
BODY MATTERS Rust strikes around the suspension strut tops, inner wings, bulkhead, bonnet, where the nose meets the front wings, sills, floorpan, door bottoms, wheel arches, the lower parts of the rear wings and the boot. Basically, just check everywhere – including underneath.
ENGINE ISSUES The alloy cylinder head can warp or corrode inside, allowing water and oil to mix, so keep an eye on the temperature gauge. It could also be the water pump – which is an involved pain to change. Timing chains get rattly every 25,000 miles or so.
INSIDE EXAMINATION Interiors wear quite easily and switchgear – especially the heater controls – is prone to breaking. Replacement means complicated dashboard removal. Electrics can be troublesome thanks to corroded contacts, dodgy looms and fuses – pre-1979 cars only had five, later ones had a more reliable 12.
ENGINE 1998cc/4-cyl/OHC POWER 105bhp@5500rpm TORQUE 119lb ft@3500rpm MAXIMUM SPEED 109mph 0-60MPH 9.1sec FUEL CONSUMPTION 25-35mpg TRANSMISSION RWD, five-speed manual
“1980 TRIUMPH TR7, £3250 In the family for 24 years. Last road taxed in 2003 and since has only been displayed at special occasions. £1300 spent last year on decarbonising, new gaskets/seals, rear brake shoes and cylinders, battery, radiator, windscreen, steering column bushes etc for MoT.”