Ex Del Lines TR8 Coupe

During July 2018 I had the opportunity to purchase an ex Del Lines TR8 coupe registration number TUK 705Y from a specialist Classic Car vendor in Yorkshire. Having spoken to them, I was informed that the car was in excellent condition, drove perfectly, had comfortable leather seats and came with a current MoT. Photographs were emailed to me and yes, it looked to be a car to be cherished. A lesson to be learnt... always make the effort to inspect any vehicle prior to purchase, no matter what the distance is that you have to travel.

Living in Sussex [and with the vendor being based in Yorkshire] we agreed to meet at my brother's house in Brackley, North'ants. The car looked good, and although I felt the engine required tuning I was happy with what I could see, and all the appropriate documentation was in order. The car was soon loaded onto my trailer and en-route to my workshop. After a couple of weeks, I decided that the quality of the interior was nowhere near to my standard as a specialist coach trimmer.

Somebody had made an absolute abortion of repairing the leather seat covers, and I subsequently discovered that the driver's seat frame was broken. Delving further into the general construction of the car made my eyes light up - I discovered panels welded over the top of existing rusty sheet metalwork. The offside outer sill was plugged-up with 5/16" of filler, the wings had been layered with fibre glass, the fuel tank soon started leaking and the lower inner sills had rusted out before being covered with a thick coat of underseal - along with the remainder of the underside of the body - covering up very poor quality repairs and welding. I had no choice but to replace the off-side outer sill with a new item whilst welding in sections, as I wanted to get out and rally the car.

During my research to bring this car back to the original Del Lines rally specification I sourced an original Safety Devices roll cage; the original had been removed [along with the seats and the full harness belts] some six years previously when sheet steel sections were welded in.

Rallying in France October 2018

I must mention bodging in the engine bay - I found the steering rack had been packed up with washers, and at specific points the steering column was touching the exhaust manifold which, in turn, was subsequently hitting the chassis frame.

Finally, I'd got the car into a condition where I could enter it in a couple of rallies. It handled extremely well - I'd changed all the braking system, fitting four pot callipers to the front and completely replacing all the suspension. I've also managed to locate original 15-inch Compomotive 8" rear wheels that originally belonged to the late Philip Young (Classic Rally Association) when he rallied a TR8 Coupe.

It's now time to decide as to what should be done with this historic car. Yes, a total 100% restoration of the complete car. Searching for more history was the next priority, and I knew that the car was originally white having found evidence under the red paint within the car. I then discovered that one of the original sponsors had been trading as Sonic Communications Ltd. Immediately commencing research, I eventually made contact although the company had slightly changed its name. My luck was in - they had pictures of the car finished in their livery and it clearly showed the original car registration number was NYB 11L. My next quest is to try - and re-instate - the original registration.

The car had another colour change [from White to Red] when it was sponsored by Esso, and it has remained red to this day. In 1983 the car went to auction and was subsequently fitted with a vinyl roof and detachable glass panel. The centre roof panel removed from an MGBGT fits the profile of the TR Coupe exactly.

At the time of writing the car is now totally stripped, blasted and currently undergoing a full body restoration. However, my major problem has been difficulty finding new original body panels but I'm happy to say that I've succeeded, with the exception of the floor sections.

In researching the original registration number NYB 11L I have found [on the Internet] a Metallic Blue Roadster which I believe to be a TR7 with a V8 implant bearing the registration which I would love to have on my bonnet.

If anybody is in a position to be able to help me in my quest, I'd be extremely grateful.
Bryan Purves