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Triumph TR-8

I saw a gorgeous TR-8 last weekend, at Hampton
Beach, NH. The car was a dark metallic green, and
the interior was immaculate. Even though it was
quite an old design, the car looked pretty nice.
How many were made? And, are they reasonable in
price? And what am I likely to face inthe parts and
service dept.? Is this V-8 the same as used in the
current land Rover?
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Comments

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    They made something like 3,000 of the TR8s, most of them convertibles, with the coupe being rarer. That doesn't make it worth more, it's just rarer.

    Auto writers have been touting that the TR8 would become a collectible, but they've been saying this for 20 years and it hasn't happened yet. The TR8 prices stay fairly steady or creep up with inflation, but it's quite apparent that overall there is still very little interest in the cars from the majority of collectors.

    Basically nobody cares about this car.

    That being said, it isn't a bad car per se. Probaby the reason it never caught on as well as the Sunbeam Tiger, it's closest relative, is because of the awful TR7, which it resembles to an uncomfortable degree. It really is a different car, but it looks like a TR7 and that hurts its marketability quite a bit.

    The engine is the Rover 3.5 unit, a basically sturdy engine that guzzles gas like there was no tomorrow. I believe the current Rovers use a bigger V-8, but I don't know if it has roots with this older 3.5 unit.

    Acceleration is about 0-60 in 8.5 seconds, and the suspension is a bit soft. Yet, having a V-8 in a small car is fun, and I think that with some suspension work it could be fun to drive. The fuel injected models, 1981 on up, are the best of the lot.

    As for pricing, around $7,500 should buy you a very clean, no problems car....a #2.

    So for the money, you'll get decent performance and you'll have the only one on your block. As an "investment", it's not a good choice and isn't likely to catch on anytime soon. With the Sunbeam Tiger as the alternate, selling upwards of $18,000 for really nice ones, the TR8 has some attraction as a fun toy. Reliability and build quality will be, of course, typically British.

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    How much different is it than the TR-7? A friend bought two for his kids, got tired of the continual maintenance and gave me the dirty job of selling them. One of the mechanics at Burnett's in Palo Alto told me a TR replacement part was as likely to be defective as the part that had failed. These guys had specialized in British cars for years, but I guess the romance was over for the owner--he drove a '70s Lincoln Continental. One of the TR-7's problems was overheating, and that would have been alleviated with the V8, but what about the other systems?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    I guess it might share some switches and things with a TR7, but in all the major components it is a different car. The problem is it LOOKS like a TR7, but is more different than it is the same.

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  • The demise of Triumph and the fairly low production numbers may make parts difficult to come by, though I think that most mechanical parts are interchangeable with the Tiger.

    I just have a hard time liking the car, too many memories of TR7s at the side of the road in the English countryside I guess.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    As I recall the TR7 really didn't offer much of a driving experience. Quite a one-two punch: boring and unreliable.

    Wasn't the four the same unit SAAB used at the time?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    Yes, also Saab figured out finally how to hold the cylinder head on. The original TR7 head usually requires 3 head gaskets on top of each other to work (for a while). Still, even after many improvments, the Saab engine was plagued with overheating into the early 90s even.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,603
    The brits do have a difficult time, don't they.

    Mr. Lucas strikes often and without warning.

    And, they just love that 1961 Buick Special 215 cubic inch aluminum engine too!

    The engine that Buick ended up dumping after only three years turned into one of the better components in British applications!

    A "Land Rover" engine indeed!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Three head gaskets? What did they hold down the head with, bolts or duct tape?

    For some reason this reminds me of a Fiat 128 I had briefly, a remarkably fun car even on three cylinders. I bought it knowing it had a bad valve, but you just pop the head and bring it to a machine shop, right? That's when I found out how dissimilar metals bond chemically, in this case an aluminum head to steel threaded rods pressed into the block.

    The head just would not come off. First I tapped gently and used lots of WD-40. Then I tapped less gently, using more WD-40. Then I tried popping the head off using engine compression. Then I tried very carefully prying it off--I know, but I was desperate. Then I rented a rip saw and tried to cut the head away from the rods.

    In the meantime my father had helped by installing a complete set of $100 seatcovers, which of course exceeded the market value of the car. When the next step appeared to be installing a junkyard X1/9 engine, I called it a day.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I just remembered I also heated the head with a torch to get it to expand. Shiftright, what would you have done? Stopped before the rip saw?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    I would have used the special tool they make for getting this type of head off. It's the only safe way to do it.

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Well sure, I guess I could have done it the right way and used the special tool (they have one?) and sure, I guess I could have thought a little before I got creative, but...

    It's better that I don't work on cars anymore. Better for me, better for the cars. Is this how you get material for your strip?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    I get material for the strip from my own stupid mistakes. And having owned tons of British cars over the years, there have been plenty of unfortunate decisions on how to fix something. But generally I haven't done the same dumb thing twice, so that's how I learned about the cylinder head tool for the Fiat.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,603
    Shifty, I spent 20 years in the tool business and don't remember a tool for that.

    Nor can I picture anything that would work. Was it a dealer supplied item>

    I can visulize using a big Morgan Knocker with arms on it that could somehow grab the sides of the head?

    Fix
    It
    Again
    Tomorrow

    There were worse ones too...:)
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    The only thing I can think of is that it somehow uses the head studs for leverage. I'd like to see Pippa Garner work up a design.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,603
    Once, I watched a top notch mechanic get frustrated trying to pull a head off a flathead Ford V-8. He had tried everything. He ended up busting it into pieces with a large hammer. That way he able to save the block.

    He found a used head and all was well!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    That's what's nice about working on a Ford. You don't have to worry much about destroying anything, you can just go out in tot he backyard and get another part. But you break something on a rare Ferrari, you are screwed for life, or at least off to the Italian specialty foundry or machinist's shop, where they will make your socks roll up and down when you get the bill. Would be believe on a very rare Ferrari, to restire a set of Weber carbs with missing parts + reconstructing a proper manifold cost the man $20,000?

    MODERATOR

  • Mr. Shift right hit the nail on the head on the TR8. They're basically nice enough, in a predictable way.
    They are, however, not becoming the "classic" many car magazines predicted 15 years ago. The $7,500 price range for a solid #2 with low miles is right on. In fact, considering the low prices of these cars, there is no reason why anyone would get a cheaper car with the exponential chances of more repairs. Like most British cars, find the absolute best one you can and pay the extra money. The difference between a # 1 or #2 car and a #3 or #4 is not that great price-wise.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    Yes, the TR8 values seem to be steady and a bit stagnant right now. It's the type of car you can really enjoy if you buy the best you can afford. It's not a car I would recommend doing a total restoration on at this time. I'd do a few things to a TR8 if I bought one...

    1) Upgrade the brakes somehow, maybe with better pads

    2) Investigate ways to stiffen the chassis (shock tower brace? Frame supports?)

    3) tighten every damn nut and bolt on the entire car before driving it hard.

    MODERATOR

  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    How good is the TR7/TR8 series as a daily driver? Would these vehicles function well in every type of weather (i.e. rain, sleet, etc.)?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    Beats me. There is a TR7 owner who checks in here now and then. We should ask him.

    I'd say the biggest challenge to everyday driving would be reliability.

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