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Buy, restore and drive this 73-mile barn find Triumph TR8

by Antony Ingram
22 September 2021 2 min read
Buy, restore and drive this 73-mile barn find Triumph TR8
Photos: Historics Auctioneers

To succeed at selling sporty cars in America you need eight cylinders and seductive styling. The Triumph TR8 had at least one of those things when it was developed as an offshoot of the TR7 in the late 1970s, and the other has undoubtedly improved with time (we’ll leave you to work out which).

This barn find example being offered by Historics Auctioneers at Ascot on September 25 will need some work before either its Rover V8 engine or its styling are as they were when the car left the factory in 1980. But with only 73 miles on the clock, and as one of only 14 right-hand drive TR8 drop-tops, it’s sure to garner interest.

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The Hagerty Price Guide puts values for a 1980 TR8 between £5400 for a ‘fair’, daily-driven example, and £16,400 for a concours car. Clearly, this one is neither of those things, and Historics confirms that it will need a complete restoration

Built initially for the USA, early TR8s were only available in coupé form, the Michelotti-inspired convertible not reaching the market until October of their introductory year. A right-hand drive model then received the thumbs-up from BL management, leading to the build of the small pre-production run, of which this car is a part. However, shortly after they were completed BL’s parlous state contributed to cancellation of production.

The ‘Pendelican White’ paintwork (a reference to a type of Greek marble, if you’re wondering) has been stained brown by numerous patches of rust, while tinworm has also found its way under the bonnet and no doubt underneath the car too. The hood appears in good shape but the plastic rear screens have survived less well, and while the interior looks complete, it’s probably just as well nobody has invented a way to let you smell these images.

On the plus side, this TR8 is more than just a car bought from a dealer and then unwisely stored away for four decades. Its specification, including a tan interior and automatic gearbox, marks it out as one of a small pre-production run built to validate the car for US sale, and this pre-production status has been verified with a British Motor Heritage Certificate.

Worth saving then, and worth enjoying afterwards, because for all its contemporary faults, the Triumph TR8 – the “English Corvette” – is still a low-slung, drop-top sports car with a 3.5-litre V8 up front. Doesn’t sound too bad when you put it like that, does it?

Read more

Three terrific Triumphs in Tom Cotter’s backyard | Barn Find Hunter
Buying Guide: Triumph TR4, TR5 and TR6
11 sports cars powered by the Rover V8

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