With this first article I will give you a brief introduction how we over here got involved with Classic cars and especially Triumphs. My name is Bert Smeets, 42 years old,  living near Antwerp in Belgium.  I became a big fan of Tony Pond and the TR7 from the moment he came to Belgium in ’77 and won the Boucles de Spa. Since then the TR7 stayed my favourite TR and I collected a lot during the years especially regarding the works rally cars. (this will show later)  I’ve been racing cars now for over 20 years and have won 5 times the Belgian Championship Slalom with Mini Cooper S but the most satisfying was winning the TR Register Championship twice in the UK with a FIA TR4 ’63 (alloy body-steel engine producing 198 BHP}. With this car I travelled all over Europe and raced at Brno, Monza, Dijon, Nurnburgring, Spa, Zolder, Assen, Zandvoort and on every British track.


But it all started in 1980 when I bought my first TR7, an ACN model, 4 speed and incidently with a 16V Dolomite engine. This was a conversion done by the previous owner. Not 1 month passed without me and my father lying on our backs at a scrapyard taking out an axle, gearbox, starter motor, etc…  In those days we were specialists in knowing which parts were interchangeable as we took these parts out of Marinas, Dolomites and other BL derivates. The only great thing about this car was his looks and the engine but we couldn’t keep up with the rear axles. And this was for road use as I was not racing this car. It’s either love or hate with a TR7.  During the last 20 years a variety of Triumphs went through our hands: Dolomite, Stags, TR4, TR6, TR7, TR8,…   All were used a lot, as everyday car or to go on holiday. One of the best holidays is still the one with the TR8 in Scotland.  With this car I travelled to Spain, France, Italy and it never let me down. What a great car and what a super engine!!!

Over the years I realized that I was only enjoying my Classic cars when I was racing them so I started neglecting the other cars. The racing was time and money consuming and the arrival of a company car did not improve this. My father still owns 2 Stags but I sold the TR’s to afford my first love: the ex-works TR7V8.

I’m still involved in competition and yes I use them even in modern events against Subaru Imprezas and Mitsubishi Evos. And I wouldn’t like to be driving anything else any more.  These cars have become almost an obsession as last month I bought my 3rd ex-works TR7V8.

I rally them in the same spec as 25 years ago and the only modifications are for safety reasons.

I keep my cars registered in the UK and it’s not without a reason that I mention this as I went to Court last year in order to retain a works registration number that someone with a replica (empty shell) tried to obtain. I will tell more about this and these fabulous cars next time but 1 thing I learned is to come in the open if you’ve got something special. Don’t hide it away as others will and can take advantage of this.

Bert -


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