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TR7 & TR8 Factory Run - 21st September 2014

21st September 2014 marks 40 years since production of the TR7 commenced at the Speke No. 2 plant in Merseyside. To commemorate this milestone the TR Drivers Club have organized a 40th anniversary celebration and are supported in this by the TR Register and Triumph Sports Six Club. It is expected that the events planned will result in the biggest news story since the iconic wedge went out of production in October 1981.

The big day starts with a convoy of 40 wedges driving between each of the three TR7 factory sites – Speke, Canley and Solihull – with the final rendezvous at the Heritage Motor Museum, Gaydon. TR7s and TR8s from all over the UK as well as further afield are invited to join the day at Gaydon and we hope to attract up to 100 cars. This event will be open to all TR7/8 Wedge owners and any profits from the day will be donated to the charity, Parkinson’s UK.

Issued by John Clancy
TR Drivers Club, 18th July 2014
Tel: 01579 346716 Email: john.clancy@bfcc.biz

Parkinson’s UK - www.justgiving.com/parkinsons


It will come as no surprise to learn that the TR7 turned forty in September: this iconic, wedge-shaped vehicle - the butt of many an uneducated reporter’s puerile wit - commenced manufacture at a factory in Speke during the closing months of 1974. If only some of the reporters of the day had taken the time to sit down and peruse quite what was going on within the British motor industry instead of taking the easy option of jumping on the knockers bandwagon perhaps the new sports car would have been better understood. The TR7 was not a bad car and it was certainly no worse than many other offerings at the time, but there is no question that it was subjected to a custody battle that did its reputation little favour. That is now all in the past, and the history is now well-documented in a variety of formats including Bullet Reloaded, a DVD that contains first hand interviews with a number of white-collar staff who were there at the time….

However, this isn’t all about raking over the coals but celebrating what has probably become one of the defining milestones in sports car design. Gone was the old-fashioned, heavy chassis construction: this was a car designed from the ground up using the latest monocoque construction methods. Even the design was a radical departure from the past, dictated in part by the impending legislation being imposed by the American market. They wanted a roof, and a traditional drive train, and that’s exactly what the stylist, Harris Mann, gave them. As the Chief Development Engineer Tony Lee told a packed auditorium on Sunday 21st September 2014; ‘Harris took the present and turned it into the future……’  A perfect summary.

Four decades on this endearing vehicle has withstood the ravages of time to emerge triumphant, to take its rightful place as the last of the marque. More prolific than all the other TRs including the TR6, the TR7 has proved that change can be for the better, something that was proven over the weekend of 20th\21st September. The birthday celebrations kicked off with a select gathering at the Motor Industry Research Association at Nuneaton, where thirteen Wedge-shaped vehicles parked to watch an early car being put through its paces around the dry handling circuit, driven by the very same test-driver - Gordon Birtwistle - who piloted pre-production TR7s throughout the 1970s. No quarter was given, no soft-pedalling on account of its age. The white P-Reg vehicle belonging to Paul Lewis was subjected once again to some strenuous dynamic-handling exercises, all four tyres squealing with excitement as it clung tenaciously to the tarmac surface. A thrilling demonstration of an exciting looking car that few have ever experienced up close.  All too soon it was time to depart, in convoy, to a Hotel in Aintree and the overnight stop pending an early start the following day. Quite what the customers at the Craddock services on the M6 thought when a line of thirteen TR7s pulled in is anybody’s guess. At Aintree they were joined by a further ten cars for the 40th Anniversary Run the following day….

Sunday, and an early start. At 6:45 am.  The squeaking sound of chamois leathers could be heard emanating from the car park as overnight dew was removed from windscreens. Some cars were now sporting small, self-adhesive butterflies, a small but important gesture in remembrance of our late editor Val McMillan who sadly passed away shortly before this momentous event. These twenty-three cars were to be joined by a further seventeen by the time they’d arrived at Triumph Way, Speke. The sight was awe-inspiring, we had access to a yard where we could create a display four cars wide and ten deep! It looked exactly like a recreation of the original factory’s holding area pending dispatch to dealerships! With route books handed out and commemorative rally-plates [generously supplied by TR7 specialists Robsport International] tucked behind the windscreens the vehicles left to visit the other sites where the TR7 had been built - Canley and Solihull - before arriving at the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon. Little did they think that on arrival they would be greeted by the sight of a further sixty seven cars in a variety of hues. There was something to cater for every taste. Drop Heads, Fixed Heads, some with Sprint engines and a lot more that had gone the route of having the Rover 3.5l V8 conversion. There were cars that appeared original whilst others that sported a range of non-original modifications ranging from very subtle bonnet scoops to the more radically-redesigned front and rear ends.

The assembled gathering featured cars that ranged from the pristine, near-concours vehicle through to the dog-eared but well-loved mutt. Whilst the former undoubtedly has one drooling with envy, it’s the dog-eared mutt that evokes emotion, and none more so than the pie-bald offering ANP 283R. It’s nothing short of a miracle that this car ever made it to Gaydon at all, and its owner, Dave Thomas from Cwmbran, was a well-deserving winner of the only award to be made - the ‘Anniversary Adversity Cup’.  Dave moved heaven and earth to get the car ready for the weekend. In the five days leading up to the Friday afternoon MOT the car was to be the subject of some panic-welding to the inner wings and the sills, a new coil from Robsport [un-needed, as the irritating, non-starting problem was subsequently found to be nothing to do with the coil but rather the electronic ignition module] and four new tyres. It failed - a failure sheet was issued citing, amongst other things, dodgy bottom ball-joints, dust covers and a brake imbalance. More midnight oil was burned and the vehicle was re-submitted the following morning, but this wasn’t to be the end of the matter. On securing the battery clamp, smoke was seen to drift aimlessly from the headlamp motors…. It’s what owning a TR-Wedge is all about!  But the fact remains - Dave and Jan arrived with their multi-coloured TR7 and it was considered the most deserving to be awarded the fabulous trophy supplied by TRDC member Garry Yorke.

At 3:00 pm it was time to gather in the Conference Hall where Tony Lee regaled the assembled membership with a few stories. A light-hearted banter with TR7 stylist Harris Mann followed before the 40th Anniversary cake was cut by a knife-wielding Mr Lee. Notwithstanding several youngsters having eyes on the pair of Scalextric TR7s that adorned the two-lane black top, they both found their way back into Mr Lewis’s collection, and by 4:00 pm it was all over……

The final count? 107 cars parked outside Gaydon - a big thank you to everybody who gave up a weekend to take part, including special thanks to our Ex-Triumph VIP guests and to Neil Campbell [Practical Classics] and Keith Moody [Honest John].

Triumph VIPs in attendance:

Tony Lee, Chief Development Engineer
Harris Mann, TR7 Stylist
Ron Jesson, Speke Emissions Controller at end of production line.
Richard Hunt, Triumph stylist involved with TR7 interior amongst other things.
Peter Wilson, TR7 Resident Engineer Speke, Canley and then Solihull.
David Jeans, TR7 Drophead Chief Engineer
Mick Bunker, TR7 Chief Engineer
John Ashford, Triumph Stylist [styled the TR7 Lynx and decals for TR7 amongst other things]
Dave Keepax, Triumph Stylist [best known to us for the Keepax Alloy but also did TR7 instruments and other TR7 interior styling designs]


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