TR7 &TR8 IDENTIFICATION & PRODUCTION DATA EXPLAINED
This identification guide was originally based on an article written for the TR Drivers Club magazine in 1987 by Paul Towle, past TR8 Registrar and subsequently updated by Rex Holford the current Registrar, and Mark Elbers, at various stages. Mark also contributed to the layout. Stewart Rendall provided clarification on a number of points including home market TR8 production history. Most of the information has been cross-referenced with at least two separate sources, in an effort to establish some level of authenticity. Most notably various articles by Anders Clausager, until recently B.M.I.H.T. Archivist. If you are unsure as to where to find your Commission Number, or for later cars the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), look for the Vehicle Data Plate located on the front suspension turret on UK cars or on the inside edge of the Drivers door for USA and Rest of the World cars.
Production of US specification cars began in January 1975
Production of cars for the home market, Europe and Australia began in May 1976
Production ended in May 1978
Speke built cars are identified by a three-letter prefix in front of the chassis number, as follows:
1. ‘ACL’ 1975 – 76 model year North American Coupe
1975 m.y. : ACL 1 to ACL7248 (Jan ’75 to Sept ’75)
1976 m.y. : ACL10001 to ACL34099 (or 33775) (Sept ’75 to Oct ’76)
Maximum total production possible by chassis numbers: 29798 (31023).
2. ‘ACG’ 1976 – 78 coupe for Home Market, Europe and Australia.
ACG 1 to ACG4688 (June ’75 to Oct ’76) approx. 50cars built.
ACG 10001 to ACG 23406 (Oct ’76 to June ’77)
ACG 25001 to ACG 27053 (Aug ’77 to May ’78)
Maximum total production possible by chassis numbers: 22808
3. ‘ACW’ 1977 – 78 model year North American Coupe.
1977 m.y.: ACW 1 to ACW17115 (Sept ’76 to May ’77)
1978 m.y.: ACW 30001 to ACW 33051 (June ’77 on)
and : ACW 40001 to ACW 44328 (Aug ’77 to May ’78)
Maximum total production possible by chassis numbers: 24494.
4. ‘ACH’ 1977 TR7 16V Sprint Coupe with four-valve/cylinder engine.
ACH 1 to ACH 700 (Feb ’77 to Oct ’77)
N.B. Not all numbers used. Maximum 60 cars built Feb’77 to Oct ’77.
5. ‘ACN’ Pilot Production TR8 Coupe (for North America?), 1977 – 78 m.y.
ACN 1 to ACN 1166 (Feb ’77 to Oct ’77)
N.B. Not all numbers used. Approx. 150 cars built Feb ’77 to Oct ’77.
6. ‘ACT’ 1978 Prototype Convertible for North America.
ACT 1 to ACT 110 (April ’78 to May ’78)
N.B. Not all numbers used. Approx. 10 cars built April ’78 to May ’78.
Built at Speke and converted to V8 spec at Canley in late 1978.
Total possible production by chassis numbers: 77320 (or 78545)
(Note: Each of these models with different prefixes had its own series of chassis numbers)
Official British Leyland (BL)/Austin Rover production figures for the TR7/8 range at Speke vary
Between 76081 and 76979. (It is quite possible that not all the chassis numbers, even in the ACL/ACG/ACW series, were used).
The Speke plant was closed in 1978, all TR8/8 production having by this time been transferred to Canley.
Production was transferred to Canley in October 1978 and continued until August 1980 when car assembly at Canley was stopped. As during this period there was a complete change in identification and numbering system, 78 – 79 and 79 – 80 cars will be dealt with separately.
1978 –79 cars built at Canley are, similar to Speke cars, identified by a three letter prefix in front of the chassis number. The prefixes follow the same system as those on Speke-built cars, except that the first letter is now always "T" which indicates Canley assembly. The Commission Numbers can be decoded as follows:
Another difference is that, while different models of Speke-built cars each had their own distinctive series of Chassis numbers, it would appear (when comparing with the official production figures) that different models built at Canley shared one chassis number series, or else that there were large gaps in the number series which have yet to be discovered. For this reason, the possible production figures by chassis numbers have not been quoted below.
1. 'TCG', TR7 coupe for home market, Europe and Australia.
TCG 100001 to 114122 (Oct 78 to Oct 79)
2. 'TCW', TR7 coupe for North American markets.
TCW 100001 to 115604 (Oct 78 to Oct 79)
3. 'TCN', TR8 coupe for North American markets.
4. TCT', TR7 convertible for North American markets.
5. 'TCV', TR8 convertible for the North American markets.
There were some cars built with chassis numbers from TCV 200001 upwards (see section following) for the 1979 model year.
It will be seen that all of these Canley-built cars have six figure chassis numbers commencing with the figure 1, as the first chassis number issued to a Canley-built car was in fact 100001. In 1979, theoretically from the commencement of the 1980 model year, the previous chassis numbering and prefix system was scrapped and replaced by the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) system which is now used by car manufacturers world-wide under international conventions. The later Canley-built, and all Solihull-built cars, therefore have VINs rather than chassis numbers, as will be explained in the following section.
As a note of interest: TR7’s were built at Canley alongside Spitfires and Dolomite saloons.
These vehicles have numbers in the VIN system. Each car has a Vehicle Identification Number with an eight character alpha-numeric prefix.
These prefixes (which are also found on Solihull-built cars) may be decoded as follows:
The chassis number series for Canley-built cars with VINs, from October 1979 to August 1980 is as follows: 200001 to 215080 (all models mixed in the same series)
Please note however that as mentioned above there were a few cars with numbers from 200001 upwards which still had pre-VIN style prefixes, notably TR8 convertibles type TCV.
Apparently a batch of 1981 model year cars were built from May 80 to June 80 as follows, 402001 to 402026. This fits in with the 1981 Solihull production sequence.
The official BL/Austin Rover figures for Canley production suggests a total production here from 1978 to 1980 of 30054 to 30375 cars.
Solihull cars largely follow the VIN system as set out above, but with a different chassis number series and on later cars, an additional three prefix letters.
Production at Solihull commenced in April 1980 and continued to October 1981.
The cars built at Solihull have prefixes which follow the VIN system outlined in section 3. On Solihull-built cars the last letter of the prefix is 'A'.
From May 1981, the following three letters were added in front of the existing VIN prefix: 'SAT’
This is the so-called "World Manufacturer Code" which indicates the country of origin and the manufacturer as follows:
The following chassis number series were used on Solihull-built cars, with all models mixed in the same series of numbers:
The maximum possible production at Solihull by chassis number series will therefore be seen to be 8062. The official BL/Austin Rover figure for Solihull production is 8056.
One very important thing to note is that although the very rare UK spec. TR8's were built at Solihull, they were not amongst the last TR7s manufactured (9 built in 1980 and then another 9 in early 1981). This means that they were all built prior to the introduction of the new North American VIN identification standard, which appeared on UK TR7s later on in 1981.
The last TR7 (TPAD37AA408534) produced at Solihull was a RHD Home Market DHC which is now housed in the B.M.I.H.T collection.
There were some Solihull built American specification TR8s and possibly similar TR7s that carried another variation of the VIN system . These new VINs were introduced to comply with new American and Canadian chassis numbering regulations. They were in many respects similar to the European system except that a 'Check Digit' was now incorporated, which increased the length to 17 digits.
The Check digit was inserted at the 9th position of the series and could check the validity of the entire chassis number. The other digits that differed from the European system were the 6th, 7th and 8th digits. The check digit was calculated as follows:
Taking a typical US spec. TR8 with a chassis number of SATPV458*BA408565 (note an * hasbeen left for the check digit), each of the chassis digits must be converted into its equivalent numeric and multiplied by its weight factor.
This value is then divided by modulus 11. In this case:- 340/11= 30 remainder 10
This remainder value is then added to the chassis number in the 9th position. In the case that the remainder is 10 (as in this example) a "X " is added instead. So the completed chassis number in this example would be as follows:
The variance in different sets of equally official production figures compiled within BL or AustinRover is probably owing to different methods of accounting. However in very round figures we may assume that the total production was in the order of 77,000 cars at Speke, 30,000 at Canley and 8,000 at Solihull, for a total of 115,000.
The actual B.L. figures are reproduced as follows:
a) By financial year, split by factory;
b) By calendar year regardless of factory, with some (but not complete) model splits, andhome/export split:
* Includes 7 TR 7 V8 home market coupes, possibly rally cars.
The statistics, b), above are obviously suspect at least in the respect that where under 1980 reference is made to the TR 8 FHCs, these should almost certainly be Convertibles.
The total number of TR8s produced has been the subject of much speculation. The figures quoted above suggest that there were 18 home market convertibles which (if taken as an approximate figure) seems reasonable enough. It must be borne in mind that none of the figures quoted above are likely to include pre-production or prototype cars, and there could have been further examples of home market TR8s in either of these categories. Nor is it satisfactorily explained whether the works rally cars should be classed as TR7-V8 models or as TR8 models proper. Rally cars could also have started life as TR7's and only have been converted by Leyland Motorsports.
Mike Cook whose name was considered synonymouswith that of Triumph, in North America since the 1960's, is quoted by some sources as making the following comments on TR8 coupe sales in the US:
"Approximately 150 pre-production coupes were sold in 1978" (most likely ACN or possibly TCN cars)
"Approximately 200 'and change' production coupes were sold as 1980 coupes" Exactly one 1981 coupe, an engineering 'cast-off' apparently with Serial number 199999 was sold.
While these numbers apply only to the US, they would appear to be representative of TR8 coupe production in general. It would not be unreasonable to assume that anymore than say 450 TR8 coupes were sold in total world-wide. It is also interesting to note that the comments above do not mention any 1979 model year sales, indicating perhaps that not many TCN cars were built or that those that were ended up in other markets (i.e. Canada).