News : Delivery-mileage Triumph TR8 goes up for sale

Triumph TR8 auction

A 73-mile, unregistered Triumph TR8 will be offered by Historics Auctions at its 25 September sale, some 41 years after leaving the production line… but there is a catch

The opportunity to own this extraordinarily rare example of Triumph’s final sports car comes via Historics’ Autumn sale at Ascot Racecourse. It’s an unregistered, pre-production, right-hand drive 1980 Triumph TR8 convertible.

This car is part of a pre-production batch of RHD cars that ended up being disposed of by British Leyland following its decision to kill the TR7 and TR8  in 1981.

Presented in its original colour combination of Pendelican White over a tan interior, this genuine Triumph TR8 automatic convertible – its authenticity and pre-production status are verified by its British Motoring Heritage Certificate – was purchased new and owned by the vendor for 41 years, but never registered.

Garage stored until recently, it requires complete restoration and represents a unique and immensely rewarding opportunity to bring back to life and enjoy a fascinating part of British sports car history, 41 years after it was produced.

Triumph TR8 auction

What would you be taking on?

Richard Connew of the World Wide TR7 TR8 Owners Club reckons this is going to be a very interesting project for anyone who takes it on. He says: ‘The main problem is the parts particular to a TR8, air boxes on the one are incredibly rare. Most of the body panels are again very, very difficult to get hold of.

‘The interior is a very rare tan velour which is also incredibly rare. I also noted it has the very late push button instrument panel which I don’t think I’ve ever seen on a right-hand drive TR8 before. It only appears on the very last of the line TR8s.’

Triumph TR8 auction

He added: ‘To rebuild this one doesn’t look like an easy task on what I think the body is like from the photos – might be wrong as it’s better to see in person, but to re-shell it into a good TR7 body and restore the TR8 parts is easily doable.’

Richard concluded: ‘This Triumph TR8 was built as a 1981 model year car, even though the chassis plate says it was a 1980 model year car built at Solihull. That was probably because they took a 1980 TR7 off the line and didn’t change the chassis number.’

Classic car specialist Anthony Godin, who recently unearthed the car commented: ‘Something of this scale with its pre-production, low mileage history really is unprecedented.’

For full information and bidder registration, in hall, by phone and online, visit

Triumph TR8 auction

Keith Adams


  1. In my opinion it is a crying shame that a 73 original mile car requires a total restoration! I know a couple of people who have taken low-mileage original classics, mothballed them correctly with storage oil through the spark plug holes, drained the other fluids, put the vehicles on stands, covered them with a couple of tarps, locked them in a dry garage…and come back three decades later and revived THE SAME CAR THEY STORED. In this case, a new TR-8 was abandoned, obviously left outside, and allowed to rust and deteriorate…whereas as little as three or four hours of competent mothballing could have kept it like new!

    My own ’69 E Type OTS with 30 thousand original miles is close to new, from having been garage-kept and serviced at its correct intervals. It has its original paint and interior–all in nice shape, and has never been mechanically restored–just tuned/serviced and not abused. I therefore don’t think that the 73 miles make this TR-8 some sort of extremely valuable and unique paragon or rarity, that should be worth a fortune…pre-production or not. One could even argue that the seventy-three miles only serve to showcase and amplify the total neglect and lack of care this rusty, in-need-of-total-restoration TR-8, has been subjected to.

    • Agreed. I’m more upset by the potential loss of a low-mileage Buick-Rover 3.5 engine than of the car as a whole. Judging by the photos on the auctioneer’s website (worth a look), the engine alone will need an awful lot of work.

      That’s a wallet-emptying resto ahoy – I doubt you’d see a return on your investment for years, particularly as these “pre-prod” TR8s seem to be just TR7s with various one-off modifications by whoever wasn’t on strike that week. If you look closely, even the glove box decal still reads “TR7”. You could argue it’s more of a prototype, even if the TR8 did already exist in the US.

      “What would you be taking on?”, asks the article. Probably a divorce or a nervous breakdown. Good luck to whoever buys it, tho’!

  2. I suppose it has it’s place in BL history and no doubt somebody will buy it, and spend a fortune restoring it. The current fashion for rehabilitating the reputation of the TR7 leaves me perplexed. It was always eye–achingly ugly and in no way worthy of the TR designation. I was a keen reader of Motor magazine while still at school, and I can still remember Mike McCarthy’s long term test TR7. It was a dog and being brown looked like a turd. I wouldn’t have one as a present

    • I agree the original coupe was “eye-achingly ugly”; even at the time I couldn’t believe anyone thought it attractive. However, the soft-top convertible was much better looking. Exactly the same as with the XJS.

    • Standhill convieniently forgets to mention that Mike McCarthy went on to do a test of a Factory RHD TR8 and his opinion of the car was changed for the better.
      This was the car it should always have been with much better build quality and reliability and performance.

  3. i owned a lhd tr8 out of texas imported into Nottingham in the uk,when i was driving around i met a guy who said his farther in law had the job of disposing of 6 TR8 prototypes in the 1980s,According to him he only scrapped 4 and saved 2 i did ask if they where for sale and he said he couldn’t sell as it would cause big issues maybe this could be one of them,so if this came out of the Nottingham/Mansfield area there is another one out there,the 4 that were scrapped apparently were hacked about and had things like missing engines/damaged bodies just thought i would add to this story,i also used to own one of the prototype 1966 Humber super snipe Chrysler factory V8 cars another interesting story of cars which were supposed not to leave the factory but at least i know of 3!!! great times

  4. some of you may think it was “eye achingly ugly”, but I do not, this was the first all new car in the TR line since the first one, ground up new, it was built for that era, and it fitted well, BL had a history of designing great cars, shame they had shocking build, they also, especially in Triumph, built new cars on top of old tech, look at how many were using Herald underpinings, how many used the same kit for years, this was all new, and if I am correct in my thinking, the TR7 was the best selling TR out of them all, so they could not be that bad, and far better than the Stag, which was a shocking peice of engineering, beautiful but so badly engineered, how many had engine failures, and how many have had to have retro fit new parts to ensure that they stay cool, but that said, the TR7/TR8 did what it said it would do, go well, drive not badly, and was a great looking car when you compare it to the square boxes that were around at that time, Sports cars are supposed to sleak, fast looking and different, the TR6, as great as it was, was so long in the tooth and they could not in all honesty take that design any further.

    • The rigid and random straight lines of the TR7 coupe roof is a “challenging” match with the curves and scallops below. The TR8 roadster body is pretty, but still is diminished by the clunky bumpers.

  5. Love all these different views on styling! I’m with the TR7 ugly duckling brigade myself but then I’m apparently weird as well ‘cos I detest the Stag – especially for that front end! For me ‘horrible’ styling for a sporting car was exemplified by the TR 7 and 80’s TVR’s and numerous other efforts of the era. Thankfully, a decade or so later beauty was restored by Alfa 916’s and a new generation of curvy shapes. The Chris Bangle penned Fiat Coupe was a triumph though what he did afterwards with a certain German company was less laudable.

  6. Can sort of see why the TR7 was unworthy of the TR designation in the opinion of some as even though it was a Triumph design, with respect to the MG-rooted styling elements and the TR8’s Rover V8 engine it seems to be more of a badly executed MGB/MGC/MGB V8 successor pushed too upmarket.

    Michelotti styling as seen both early on under Bullet and later under Broadside projects, plus the addition of a Six between the Slant-4 and V8 would have probably helped make the TR7 more worthy of the name.

  7. I read somewhere recently that TR7/8’s are becoming more collectable/going up in value. I wonder if the original press tools still exist/whether it’s worth British Motor Heritage doing panels/complete bodyshells.

  8. I’ve always had mixed feelings about the TR7/8 stylewise. The wedge styling was OK in the context of the times, but lacks the flair of the earlier sporting Triumphs.

    It has been argued the TR8 was what the TR7 should have been from the start, certainly it should have been on sale in 1978, rather than a last throw of the dice in 1981 just as the range was about to be dropped.

    • @Richardpd, the TR7 was a lost opportunity, especially as the car came good when it was moved from the troubled Speke factory and quality dramatically improved. Had a V8 been offered in 1978, then the car could have been a serious contender.

      • That’s true, I did wonder why the 16 valve engine from the Dolomite Sprint was offered in the TR7.

        It hasn’t stopped some owners from transplanting them in though.

        • @ Richardpd, another mystery, particularly when the car was moved to Canley, where this engine was produced. Again a TR7 with a 16 valve engine and a TR8 being launched in 1978 could have really improved sales, but the car was hindered with an 8 valve engine that while it was improved over the years and mated to a five speed transmission from 1978, it wasn’t quite good enough. Also the terrible quality on the Speke cars permanently hurt sales as buyers were wary of buying a TR7.

          • I;m not quite sure why you say the engine “wasn’t quite good enough”. The 2 litre engine was very smooth, and had lots of torque which made the car in 5 speed form a very good drive and sensibly quick from point to point . I had a convertible from new and over several years it gave good and trouble-free service until eventually I replaced it by a V8 which was a real stormer with the original axle ratio

          • The TR7/8 probably would have been a casualty of the simultaneous collapse of the US market and BL regardless of its actual merits. Sports, luxury, and specialty vehicles were a very hard sell in the States from 80 thru 82. Someone would have had to subsidize Triumph to ride out the downturn. GM sold over 600,000 Pontiac Fieros, so there was a decent US market for cars superficially like TR7 coupe.

  9. “When the TR8 went on general sale in the USA in May 1980, it was met with unanimous praise, being hailed as nothing less than the, ‘Re-invention of the Sports Car’, by Car & Driver magazine.” – AROnline Triumph TR7 development story. This one will need a lot of work but at least its the genuine article and it’s all there.
    Meantime I owned an late model TR7 DHC around 2000. Not in the best of condition, but quite comfortable and good to drive. Was still suffering from an appalling image in ‘classic’ circles even though some said that values were no longer falling. 20 years later there are still plenty of rough ‘project’ cars on eBay but now its cousin the similarly under-rated SD1 seems to have turned the corner at last perhaps the last TR will do so too. A good one would certainly make a change from a run of the mill MGB.

    • Aside from the quality/reliability issues, I don’t think SD1 ever has been any controversy about the desirability of the SD1 V8. The SD1 is in the same bag as many Jaguars: Nice car, but maybe not worth the headaches.

    • Looking at eBay, it looks like TR7 and SD1 values are indeed climbing. I would suggest that if you find road worthy examples of either cars, they are good fun.

      Disappointment with reliability can be countered by good preventative maintenance and becoming handy with a spanner. Besides, isn’t learning how to fix things part of the fun? The sense of achievement afterwards immense!

  10. I like the convertible, though not the hard top. It’s amazing how much difference removing the roof makes

    It was a shame in many ways that it died a premature death, and we never got MG or Lynx derivatives, as it did add some glamour to the ARG range, which once the SD1 Vitesse died off, did start to look a bit dull.

  11. How has a car that has never been used or registered ended up in this state? Thought it was an old wives tale that BL products started to rust before they left the factory, but not so sure now.

    • Actually when you look at the more detailed photographs in the auction catalogue it doesn’t look so bad. Certainly doesn’t appear to need re-shelling as suggested in the article

      • The underbonnet condition , and the pic of the damp garage in which it was stored for 40 years, says it all . I would lay long odds that this car will be rotten as a pear in the hollow spaces as a result of 40 years of condensation

  12. @ Paul, actually the rustproofing was no worse than many other cars of the time and the Maxi and Princess seemed quite rust resistant. Don’t forget this was the era where Alfasuds could start to rot badly within a year of ownership and first generation Datsun Sunnys might have started first time, but had some nasty rust issues that would cost you at MOT time.

  13. According to the auctioneer’s website, the ‘car’ sold today for…


    This country has gone completely mad.

      • Nothing really. Classic car values have gone through the roof. A Mexico Escort will st you back over 30k for a decent one. How much are E Types now? Ridiculous. There is a reason. The Treasury in their infidente wisdom have decided that Classic Cars sales don’t actually attract any additional taxes, like shares, commodities and houses. So investing in cars has become the latest investment bug.

        • Mexico values are absurd nowadays. I had a Mk2 Escort 1.6 Ghia back in the 80s. To think that I’d need to find £30K-£40K for a Mexico, which isn’t all that different, or all that quicker, than my old motor is just nuts. As for the notional $28K that I wouldn’t spend on the basket case TR8, a very nice 150 bhp TR6 would do nicely thanks.

          • @standhill, there is a very nice Escort RS 2000 near me on a W plate, one of the last ever made. This is an altogether better car, bigger engine, more performance and German build quality, so I wonder how much this would fetch now. Except the pwner refuses to part with the car and has owned it since the eighties, when he probably picked it up for a couple of thousand.

  14. Glenn, the values mentioned are for immaculate or restored cars. If your neighbour’s car is in good enough condition I suppose he could expect getting on for £50K. Does he drive it regularly? Think I’d be scared to for fear of mishap. Can fast Fords continue to command these sort of prices? Or might the bubble burst?

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