History of the 1980–1981 Triumph TR8
Triumph’s wedge-shaped TR7 was brought to market in 1975 to replace the company’s aging product lineup. The car bore an extreme wedge shape designed by Harris Mann, and it met to decidedly mixed reviews. Early cars developed a reputation of unreliability, and the TR7 was routinely criticized for being underpowered.
To address the latter concern, Triumph introduced the TR8, which was a TR7 powered by the aluminum Buick/Oldsmobile/Pontiac 215-c.i. V-8. Most of the 400 pre-production cars were automatic coupes and amazingly, were sold via the Jaguar-Rover-Triumph dealer network as used cars after the evaluation period ended. Built for only the 1981 and 1982 model years, all California cars were Bosch injected as were all 1982 cars. The rest had a pair of Zenith-Strombergs. Only 2,700 were built, most in somewhat odd metallic colors ranging from green to aqua and many had very period plaid seats.
The TR8 cockpit is reasonably comfortable. Wider and more spacious than the TR4 series and TR6 cars, it also had far less character. Gone was the wood dash, replaced by a non-descript hard plastic affair that could have come from any contemporary sedan. At least ventilation was greatly improved and a/c was available. Ride, handling, braking and fuel economy were deemed excellent by Road & Track who said “the only other thing we could ask for is good looks.”
The TR8 suffered the usual rust maladies but not to the extent of earlier TRs as well as overheating issues. From a parts support standpoint, things aren’t nearly as rosy as they are for separate body and chassis TRs and Spitfires. Lack of popularity and low survivorship are the reasons.