The converters : Crayford Engineering TR7 Tracer

Crayford Engineering sought to produce an interesting variation on the TR7 theme, and ended up hatching out this little beauty.

Now restored and owned by Chris Turner, the Chairman of the TR Drivers Club, it made its show debut at the Practical Classics Restoration Show.

The hatchback Triumph that wasn’t

Crayford TR7 Tracer (1)

By the mid-1970s Crayford Engineering had established itself as one of Britain’s foremost producer of estate and convertible versions of mass-produced cars. When the company turned its attention to the Triumph TR7, it might have been expected to produce a convertible, given its expertise in the field.

However, this wasn’t to be – frustrating as BL’s own drop-top would not arrive for several years. And as we all know, the Triumph TR7 looked a million dollars one it had been shorn of its awkward turret top. Instead, Crayford came up with this rather awkward-looking sporting estate, developed in 1976-1977, and in doing so, created this rather interesting misfit, which it called the Crayford TR7 Tracer.

Although it wasn’t a looker (far from it), it was interesting and potentially practical. As well as the extended roofline and narrow-opening hatchback, the Tracer gained a folding rear seat, making it a 2+2, and making it slightly more practical than the car it was based upon.

Tracer was no Lynx – and neither would make it…

Crayford TR7 Tracer (3)

Interestingly, the Tracer’s extended roof and opening rear end were a concept that mirrored what Triumph Engineers were putting together at Canley. The company’s own three-door, 2+2 version of the TR7, codenamed Lynx, was rushing headlong towards production – and it wasn’t exactly an oil painting itself. However, neither this nor the later Triumph Broadside project ever saw the light of day.

Crayford had hoped to build the car in decent numbers, as the car had been commissioned by BL dealer Page Motors Limited (hence the logo on the side of the car), but it wasn’t to be. Despite several motor show appearances and appearances in various car magazines and annual guides, it never got off the ground, perhaps a victim of its own unhappy styling.

Had the Tracer ever entered production, it would have had it tough. It would have needed to deal with the internal competition as well as the infinitely better-looking Reliant Scimitar GTE and Lancia Beta HPE. However, the project folded after just one car was completed.

Crayford TR7 Tracer (2)

This car is owned by Chris Turner, the Chairman of the TR Drivers Club, and it made its show debut at the Practical Classics Restoration Show at the NEC in March 2023. It was the subject of an epic restoration during 2022 and into 2023 and, as can be seen from the before and after images, below, it’s been repainted the correct shade of Inca Yellow after spending much of its life in red.

Chris told the TR Register’s forum, ‘I have heard many comments about how it could have been improved, it’s easy to do that now, it was built 45 years ago on a strict budget. I have waited a long time to buy the car and I am very happy with it. The Crayford club would like it on their stand at a car show in the future, I hope most visitor comments are favourable.’

On the colour change, he added: ‘When built by Crayford the Tracer was Inca Yellow with a black vinyl roof but no sunroof. When the second owner, a doctor, bought it he had the colour changed to red and had a red vinyl roof and a matching Tudor Webasto Riviera sunroof fitted. As I like my TR7s to have sunroofs, I have had the Webasto roof completely rebuilt by a specialist, and it will be fitted sometime next week.’

Crayford TR7 Tracer

Crayford TR7 Tracer

TR7 Tracer before restoration

Declan Berridge


  1. I quite like it – shame BL didn’t take the idea and put it into production. With the v8 it would have sold like hot cakes, especially with a split fold rear seat.

  2. In my view the standard hard-top TR7 always looked very awkward, although the soft-top is much better. This is somewhere in-between. A bit more continuity from the rear edge of the door to the rear window would’ve improved things massively.

  3. The Tracer would have made an interesting and more modern alternative to the Reliant Scimitar, and could have taken on the Lancia Beta HPE in Europe. Also by 1980, the quality was much better and the TR7 was maturing into a decent cut price sports car.

  4. To me, the Tracer looks a bit ugly from the 3/4 rear views. I preferred the Lynx which could have been a Capri rival in those days? Neither to be of course

    • @ Hilton D, maybe if the rear windows were improved, it would look good. HPEs did have a fair size following in the late seventies with the Reliant Scimitar and Lancia Beta HPE being popular. Also a TR7 HPE with a two litre engine would have been cheaper to run than the V6 Scimitar.

  5. The name Tracer made a reappearance within Rover Group in the early 90s as the codename for the Rover 200 cabriolet.

    • The joke at Rover at the time was, it was called tracer because they just traced round the Escort convertible. Tomcat was thus named because it would piss on everything……

  6. There was only one Tracer built, the partners at Crayford had different views on why they did not make more. There are pictures of a Yellow one and a red one.
    These are the same car with a different paint job, the now red car, still has Inca yellow paint in the engine bay and on the underside. It is now starting a full restoration and will be back on the road later this year. I acknowledge that every one has an opinion about the looks of the car, I like it and have waited over 20 years for the opportunity to buy it. I have also had both the Scimitar GTE and the Beta HPE, I prefer the Tracer , I won’t see another one at any of the car shows we attend. Once it is finished I will add some photos as the car looks a little sad at the moment.

    • The Tracer restoration is now finished, the car is back on the road. We will be taking it to a few shows this year.

  7. The Tracer was on the TR Drivers club stand at yesterdays Triumph day at Stoneleigh, it was very popular, we had a constant stream of people interested in the cars history.

  8. Hi Chris

    We have a pic of it on the stand here, but it would be great to get some restoration photos up, too!

    Whereabouts are you? Would be great to get a full set of photos of the car sometime.

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