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Triumph TR7

Triumph TR7 Published: 10th Jun 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph TR7
Triumph TR7
Triumph TR7
Triumph TR7
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Stuart surveys 21 years with his trusty Triumph TR7 as he decides that it’s time to sell it and move on

It was the Royal Sun Insurance which diverted me to the classic cars scene. I was running a Peugeot 205 CTI, which was mainly my wife’s car, and in spite of never having any accidents or claims on the insurance, they ridiculously doubled the premium each year. When it came to nearly £800 we decided that was a jump too far, and sold the Peugeot in favour of a Triumph TR7 which could be insured as a classic for £143, allowing up to 3,000 miles a year.

The search for a good one didn’t take long, thanks to former colleague Lionel Burrell, former editor of The Automobile, who located a 1982 TR7 advertised for sale at Baldock, which had the two features I wanted: it had to be a convertible, and red was the colour of preference. When I saw it I was impressed by its condition and the very low mileage, only 24,000. The first owner was a woman, who had taken delivery on 3 August 1982, which was more than a year after production had ended. The second owner had been sent by his firm to America for several years, leaving the car laid up in a garage, with his father looking after it; hence the low mileage, averaging 2,000 a year. He had all the brake pipes replaced in copper.

PRICES OR VALUE?

I knew that I was paying over the odds for it when I agreed a price of £4625, but I felt it was an opportunity not to be missed. It had alloy wheels and a multi-branch exhaust manifold, but was otherwise standard in all respects, and came with short and long tonneau covers, plus many spares. The registration year letter ‘Y’ came in on 1 August 1982, and with the first letters of the registration being DNK, Dinky was adopted as the obvious name for it, although my wife said: “Can’t call it that – stands for Double Income No Kids.”

The old Pioneer radio was discarded in favour of a Philips AC 890, and the coat hanger serving as an aerial was replaced with a Halfords electric one. A more important change was to take the car to Liverpool for a Foxguard electronic security device to be fitted. It’s a nuisance to have to push the special key in before using the ignition key, but the system isolates the starter circuit, feed to the coil and the ignition switch, so it makes the car fairly thiefproof.

In the first few months a lot of time was spent changing all oils, anti-freeze, and the brake discs, pads and rear shoes, after which the brakes were much more effective. The rather floppy ride was much improved by fitting new front suspension struts, and later, new dampers at the rear.

The most difficult job was always servicing the distributor which is hidden away at the back of the engine and masked by the rotor which is not removable and means that everything has to be done by feel. I was very impressed by the service offered by Rimmers, with parts ordered by phone always arriving next day. With the ignition and carburettors set correctly, fuel consumption is usually between 34 and 38mpg, and there is never any noticeable drop in oil level between changes. Tyres lasted 25,000 miles.

After four years, a slight smell of petrol was noticed and traced to a leak from the tank on the right side, so a new one was ordered from Rimmers for £105. Fitting it was a major job, for which I was indebted to my friend Nigel, a travelling mechanic. It involves undoing the rear suspension and the flexible brake pipe to enable the tank to be released and withdrawn above the back axle. When it came out we found the antisyphon device lying in the bottom of the tank, and decided to discard it. Before installing the new tank it was liberally coated with Waxoyl. The sender unit for the fuel gauge was refitted.

After five years the insurance renewal had come down to £112 through the TR insurance scheme operated by Towergate, with the agreed value increased to £6000. For a second time the battery had to be replaced, this one having lasted only 3½ years. Batteries don’t like long periods of inactivity.

After ten years of largely trouble-free motoring, we were booked to go on a classic cars run to the Ardennes, and had passed through check-in to go on to the P&O boat to Calais when suddenly the accelerator became disconnected. Getting taken off the manifest for the boat was quite a caper and then we were told to go up the quite steep ramp to go out of the ferry terminal. The TR just made it, by judicious use of the mixture fast idle control. A wire connector was then purchased at Halfords, and a temporary repair made which lasted the rally until a replacement throttle cable could be fitted. Since then, I have always carried a spare throttle cable in the boot.

After eleven years we were on a classic run in north-west Spain, and caught up an MGB. Well, a TR7 has to overtake an MGB, doesn’t it, so we went storming past in third gear when suddenly the engine cut out. It was most embarrassing, but even worse just as we swerved across into a lay-by, the storm which had been threatening for some time, produced a downpour. The first task was to put the hood up, then working under an umbrella, try to find out what had gone wrong. I was terrified to take the distributor cap off and risk losing the little securing screws, but it revealed the problem. The wire from the condenser had come adrift. After refitting it firmly it was a great relief to find that the engine started first time.

A RELIABLE TR7!

Many times when we have been driving back at night I have hoped that I can trust Dinky not to let us down, and it never has. The incident in Spain is the only time we have had to make an unscheduled roadside halt, which is a tribute to the sound construction of the Triumph. By the time BL killed off production in 1981, the car was being built at Solihull and the agonies of Canley and Speke were all in the past; they were doing it right at last. Driving Dinky, especially with the hood down, has always been great fun.

Our move from Hertfordshire to the south coast near Lymington in 2006 meant that I had lost the help of Nigel but instead found the nearby classic cars specialist Ashley Motors providing excellent service and I have gradually given up tackling routine maintenance tasks myself. And that brings me to the reason for selling Dinky – I find that the doors don’t open as wide as they used to, the gap between seat and door for getting my legs out is smaller than it used to be, and the steering is much heavier! Has the car changed, or are these symptoms of advancing age?

As you can read in our readers’ pages, Stuart’s sold the car but the story doesn’t end there. Turn to page 156 and you’ll see it’s been taxing times in more ways than one…

 



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