If you pine for long summers and florescent food, the Triumph TR7 of 1975 will take you right back to those lengthy hot autumns ruled by glamour wear – and for a lot less than you may think.
The Triumph TR7 was a radical rethink of the TR sporting line, one of the many reasons why it remains a culprit for provoking controversy in classic car circles. It has believers, who will happily lavish examples with time and money and swear by them, and others who would only lavish it with the attention of a sledgehammer. Apart from the TR badge, there is nothing in common with the previous beloved generations.
Initially there was no convertible option much to the bewilderment of the target customer, due to safety and styling trends – resulting in a wedge shape from Harris Mann that initially didn’t please many. Believing that America was on the verge of outlawing the convertible, it wasn’t for some time that the drop top arrived.
In a complete backwards move, the engine choice returned to four cylinders, initially a 2.0-litre development of the Dolomite engine. Independent rear suspension was also abandoned, mixed with build quality that left BL conservatives weeping amid industrial unrest that left managers aging prematurely.
Despite being mocked by Mr and Mrs MGB, initial demand for the TR7 was strong – but seeing as BL never enjoyed making things easy for themselves, the Liverpool factory crippled production lines with one of the longest strikes in British Leyland history. ‘The shape of things to come’ strapline upon launch was beginning to reflect the entire company. Everywhere the troubled TR7 went striking soon followed – first at Speke, then Solihull, then Canley.
But forget these old clichés and that exclamation from Giorgetto Giugiaro of ‘My God! They’ve done it to the other side as well!’. The TR7 eventually outsold all previous TR incarnations – thanks to the arrival of the convertible in 1979, alongside a five-speed gearbox as standard. This made it better in almost every way over the insanely popular MBG Roadster. The TR7 was the height of automotive fashion for its time.
It was also fun to drive and reasonably refined – alongside rust-bucket piles of character. Perfectly capable of everyday commuting and surprisingly practical with a boot that can swallow more than Cujo – this is perfect summer fare for letting your hippie locks of hair down.