Crayford Engineering sought to produce an interesting variation on the TR7 theme, and ended up hatching out this little beauty. The Crayford TR7 Tracer looked awkward, and only one survives, but it’s a fascinating might-have been…
The hatchback Triumph that wasn’t
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. However, 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…
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 only a handful of prototypes had been completed and just one example survives today.