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The National @ British Motor Museum 30th June, 1st& 2nd July, 2017

A Brief History of the TR8

The design concept of the car initially configured it as a Fixed Head Coupe to meet USA safety requirements. Thus in 1974 a pre-production batch of TR7 coupes was hand built and sent to the USA for evaluation.  Although the car was designed to accept the Rover V8 engine, costing constraints dictated that initially the four cylinder would be fitted. 1975 saw the first production TR7's and by 1976 the US dealers were clamouring for the V8 engined version.  In 1977 some 150 TR7V8 Fixed Head Coupes were built on the production line and 95% shipped to the US for evaluation. The remaining few were retained for test purposes in the UK.

Whilst this was happening the US reviewed its policies and reversed the decision to make open topped cars illegal.  Immediately the Rover Triumph engineers set about redesigning the coupe into Drop Head or convertible form.  With the design work already completed for the V8 drivetrain, it was not long before the first TR7V8 convertibles, or TR8s as they were later known, were being built.

Production began at the Speke, factory in 1977 but, with all the labour problems, it was switched to the Canley factory in 1978.  The building of TR7's & TR8's continued there until 1980 when production was transferred to Solihull. The last car was built on 5th October 1981. A combined total of 114,463 cars were built. Of these approximately 2,800 were TR8's.

A breakdown of the production history relating to the TR8 is as follows:

DATE

DESCRIPTION

BUILT

NUMBER

 

 

 

 

1977-78

The first production FHC TR8's destined for the USA for evaluation by dealers

Speke

150max

1978-79

Further small batch of FHC's for the USA

Canley

Unknown

1978-79

First small batch of convertible TR8's destined for the USA market

Canley

Unknown

1979

Possible small batch of UK spec FHC TR8's - unconfirmed

Canley

63

1979-80

Volume production of convertible TR8's destined for the USA market

Canley

2,088

1980

First batch of pre-production DHC TR8's destined for the UK market

Solihull

9

1981

Volume production of convertible TR8's destined for the USA & Canadian markets

Solihull

414

1981

Second batch of pre-production DHC TR8's destined for the UK market

Solihull

9

This gives a provisional total production number of some 2,733 cars.  However, it can be seen that the data for 1977 to 1979 is inconclusive, so the figures could be slightly higher or lower depending upon the exact number of FHC TR8's built in 1977/9.

NOTE: A small, but unknown, number of prototype and experimental cars should be added to this total.

As very few cars were retained in the UK, an exercise was carried out to establish how many cars and of what specification there are currently in the UK.

To date 13 of the 18 UK spec cars, plus a further 105 have been found. The latter are a mixture of re-imported USA spec cars, Factory Demonstrators, Experimental cars, USA & UK spec cars that were retained by B.L. for test purposes and prototype cars. Despite this small number remaining in the UK, examples of every known specification are still on the road and being enjoyed by enthusiasts.

Rex Holford - April 1999

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