Is the Triumph TR7 the worst sports car ever made?
Ever since the Triumph TR7 came out back in the mid 70s, it has been renowned as being a terrible car. It's unique 'wedge' like shape is unique to the TR7 and was commonly referred to back in the 70s as "the shape of things to come", thank god this wasn't true. The culprit responsible for this design was Harris Mann who also designed the Austin Princess, I think it's safe to say he really liked the wedge shape.
Interestingly (and very typical of British Leyland), when the final model of the car was made before production started, it has MG badges on it due to being styled in Longbridge, Birmingham where the MG factory was.
So what makes the TR7 such a flop? Well, to start with, the interior was very poor. It had an extremely plastic and flimsy dashboard, it's as if they saw the exterior wedge shape and just thought "screw it, let's just give it a bad interior as well". I have seen some examples with a brown leather interior and I don't think it looks all that bad until you see that hideous bulging, plastic dashboard. As well as this, do you see much storage space? I don't. The TR7 has about as much cabin storage space as a Lamborghini Aventador. Now there is two cars I never thought would have a similarity.
If you look at the overall wedge shape, to make it flow better, Triumph have manufactured an incredibly steep windscreen which I wouldn't say is the most flattering feature.
Well, it's not all bad... I'm joking of course. The TR7 came with either a 4/5 speed manual or a 3 speed automatic gearbox. This 3 speed transmission will probably go down in history as being one of the worst in existence. I have heard reports of it refusing to go into gear and being such an unpleasant driving experience. I think the only thing that worked on the car (most of the time) were the pop up headlights. Despite this, Triumph did a reasonable job with the raspy exhaust note which I think sounds really impressive, unless it's just full of holes.
When the car was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, a German car magazine Auto, Motor und Sport reported that during a high speed test, the engine "started to boil". At that time, British Leyland had already known about this problem for 19 days but kept it a secret, and no one ever knew what the issue was.
The Triumph TR7 was powered by a 4 cylinder engine producing 105 bhp, 'propelling' it from 0-60 in 9.1 seconds, giving it a top speed of 109 mph (I highly doubt any cars made it anywhere near that figure, but it's nice to dream). The previous gen 6 cylinder engines were far better and so was the later TR8 V8, which was a beast of an engine.
However, the TR7 did enter some rally races in the late 70s and competed several times, winning the SCCA PRO rally championship. The TR7s were initially powered by a 16-valve Dolomite Sprint engine but later changed to a Rover V8 which was introduced in the TR8. Now, I don't know if it's just me, but I think any car looks great in a rally spec, even the TR7!
The overall bad reputation of the TR7 might not be the car's fault itself, but the people involved in it's creation. At the time of its creation, there were poor relation between the management and the workforce which resulted in recent strikes at the factory. By the time they switched factories to work in Coventry, it was too late and the reputation of the TR7 had already been ruined.