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What Is Wrong With 1978 TR7s?

62 Austin

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I saw a TR7 F/S in EBAY only a 6 hour drive away.  Coupe. Doesn´t run. White. In the USA. The upholstery is Looking Out For Better Weather. $500 starting bid. I only dimly remember what´s wrong with these; besides torpedoing a whole company and the engine. Anyone ever drive or buy one? Export only, or did there used to be people in England, Scotland & Wales driving these around? This 1 has the Dorsal Escape Hatch.



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I drove one once, very briefly, a long time ago.  Across the forecourt of the garage where I was working, to park it back in the line of sale stock.  It was awful, I couldn't see a bloody thing out of it, had no idea where the ends were.  I literally can't imagine why anyone would have bought one in the USA, home of the Corvette... and yet that was the market at which it was specifically targeted!

Production moved from Speke to Canley at some point, but I can't actually remember when, because the Speke cars were almost literally thrown together, quality was through the floor.  BL always had quality issues and the Speke factory was notorious.

Having said that, the exterior of the one you've showed us doesn't look too bad, but the interior is.... hmmm... off-putting.  How much do you want one?  How much do you want a project?  How much is a TR7 you can actually drive, where you are?  If you want a project for the winter (probably two or three winters!) or you specifically want a TR7, then it might be a good deal.

I have one of your cars over here (1973 Cadillac) so I have a handle on the parts situation, but how it works in reverse I don't know.  Is there any support for the 7 in the US?

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nice fuel filler cap.




Even that was criticised!   


When the car came out somebody brought a brochure along to our local TR Register meeting.   One of the old buffers glared at it disdainfully before waving it away.   


"Not a proper TR.   No central filler cap.   Pah."


I don't think the TR7 was ever mentioned again.

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TR7s get an unfair, hard press. They outsold the traditional TRs by a considerable margin, so they must have been doing something right. But, the engine didn't have enough cylinders and the suspension was actually comfortable (not at the cost of handling), so beardy traditionalists didn't like them.


The dashboard is an unfortunate experiment in horrible plastics and they don't have enough grunt, that's true. The engines can be breathed on though, with good effect, or just shove a V8 in. They become quite marvellous then.

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I think the power is fine although it should have had the sprint engine at some point but the 4speed is hopeless , it'll probably do 75 mph tops.



It's rust that's the enemy . These where getting welded up at 2-3 years old . The trailing arm mounts are a particular favourite and may explain why some have queezy handling . I know a guy who was working on these at the time and did so many mounting points he figured out a system for rebuilding them from over sized washers he bought in from somewhere .

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TR7s get an unfair, hard press. They outsold the traditional TRs by a considerable margin, so they must have been doing something right. But, the engine didn't have enough cylinders and the suspension was actually comfortable (not at the cost of handling), so beardy traditionalists didn't like them.


The dashboard is an unfortunate experiment in horrible plastics and they don't have enough grunt, that's true. The engines can be breathed on though, with good effect, or just shove a V8 in. They become quite marvellous then.


I am with you on TR7s


I like em


It has the same number of cylinders as TR2,3,4 and 4a 


Same rear axle config as TR2,3, and 4 and handles pretty good.


Uncomplicated mechanicals with the exception of those stant head studs!!! wtf were they thinking


And the tendency for the head to warp if it gets a bit too warm.


And the waterpump being level with the top of the radiator


Mutha thestag had a bright yellow speke 4 pot 4 on the floor. I recall spending quite a lot of time chasing rust around it. But otherwise it went well, was comfy, felt quick  and was quite chuckable. IIRC she used to cruise quite a bit faster than 65 ;) but it was pretty noisy. It also had the webasto escape hatch which was uber cool.


Pop up headlamps were "space 1999" stuff at the time. They were a bugger to self park either up or down. I sussed out how they work and could get the right one to wink, pissed of Mutha thestag for some reason.


Oh and final point Joanna Lumley had one in the New Avengers


TR6 beardies can just FRO :D

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I once had a long term loan of a very early TR7 auto, one of the first 200 of the RHD cars.  It was brilliant, not exciting, but just great.  It felt a lot better than later ones with the deck chair upholstery. They must have genuinely looked and felt like the future at the time.


I'd have a TR7 tomorrow.  But I'm stuck with a bloody Megane cabriolet. 


Oh, and the loan was about 5 years ago.  I'm not that old.  And the car was original, unrestored. 

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'78 was when the big Speke strike happened. Very few cars were actually made that year as there was a prolonged strike which became overtaken by the announcement of the closure of the plant. The staff only went back in after very generous redundancy terms for the time were agreed.

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'78 was when the big Speke strike happened. Very few cars were actually made that year as there was a prolonged strike which became overtaken by the announcement of the closure of the plant. The staff only went back in after very generous redundancy terms for the time were agreed.


pretty much everything that was wrong with the 1970s ;)


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One of the first cars I ever traded was a yellow TR7. My partner in crime took it back and I nearly killed him for being so stupid! It was, actually not that bad after it had the diff rebuilt, new rear wheel bearings and a respray, I think I nearly broke even on the sod!


But, I always thought they were fun to drive, quite chuckable and sprightly (rather than fast) and certainly comfortable once you were i them. I had a brilliant drive in the snow in one, sliding around all over the place in (what felt like) complete safety.


Not bad cars, I'd have another if one could be found that was not rotten or had a V8 with a camshaft that still has lobes!

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The early Speke ones were OK, thicker steel and a not too pissed off workforce. 


Has anyone on here heard about the 'Special Car' TR7s?

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My old white one many moons back was OK - a great 'starter' classic as they say. It was simple enough to work on and not too complicated for repairs on the panelwork except for around the bulkhead/splash panel IIRC. Sills rot like buggery and the B-pillars are not too great either.

Parking wasn't easy with the b-pillars blocking everything, but using the mirrors a bit more doesn't mean it's a bad thing.


I loved mine - but I was 18 and a bit dumb..... so drifting was an easy option.


Bushes, suspension wallow etc.... all can be dealt with. OH - and useless for getting mates to the pub!

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pretty much everything that was wrong with the 1970s ;)




One of the things you notice in this video is that none of the Speke workers drives a BL product, they're all driving HB Vivas etc. If you see a similar video for strikes at Ford, there they are all driving anything other than a Ford. Obviously everyone had great faith in their own products in those days.

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I'm going to buck the trend and sing the praises of said automobile, we've had a convertible for most properly 8 years now, we bought it on a whim as Mrs 95 fancied a Alfa spider, these were either mad money or crunchie bar material.

During the time we've had it its performed faultlessly, had minimal money spent on it , apart from routine maintenance. been abroad in it and never a FTP, it was in really good condition when we got it and hasn't any tinworm evident.

Handling and performance more than adequate

Mucho underrated, mucho fun, and still good value,post-20451-0-69985800-1508779459_thumb.jpg

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There's only one way to buy a TR7, and that's the mintest one you can find. Borrow the £££ from the bank if you have to but buy a really nice one. Like most old cars, rubbish ones are a waste of time but these especially so.


A good up together 5 speed TR7 is an okay car.

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Not much new to add.

From reading buyers guides years ago I seem to remember the early four speed manual cars had the worst reputation and Canley built cars preferred over the Speke built as mentioned already.

Classic & Sports car did a detailed Buyers guide in mid 1980s which if you can find may still be relevant. There must be some other info published and an owners club.

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All I know is I doubt if a rust free one can be found..


I nearly bought a private sale 1979 TR7 back in 1987 out of the news shopper local paper and it looked lovely in shiny snot green with a black Laurel stuck on the bonnet and put a £50 deposit down on the £600 car.


My father told me I was mad for thinking about buying one so I took him along to look at it before I picked it up only to discover he was right as it was built out of a mixture of the newspaper and fibreglass filler.


It might of cost me £50 but I think it saved me a fortune in the long run so if a TR7 was that bad at 8 years old I hate to think what a 40 odd year old example must look like.

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