The words Triumph TR7 and reliability don't always go together. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here's how to keep your sporting wedge in the best of health   

1. Engine
 The Dolomite derived two-litre ohc engine is surprisingly robust, but usually harsh when reved. Valve clearance adjustment involves measuring pallet shims under cam followers - but they rarely need attention. Rubber mounting blocks for twin SU carbs can split causing uneven running. Distributor is fairly inaccessible, we suggest fitting electronic ignition. Viscous coupling on fan will eventually seize or disintegrate and fly through the radiator if not given a regular squirt of oil. Don't leave off the black air scoop from bulkhead at rear of engine bay; this directs fresh air into passenger compartment and keeps out engine fumes. Regular oil and filter changes are essential for long engine life.  
2. Timing Chain
 Single row timing chains can break, causing expensive intimate relationship between valves and pistons - although there's usually plenty of advance audible warning. Cautious owners replace them every 25,000 miles.  
3. Cylinder Head
 Fragile head gaskets can fail, causing coolant loss, overheating and warped head. Check head bolt torque periodically as a precaution. Milky oil on dipstick or around oil filler combined with oil in coolant means gasket problems or warped head.

4. Cooling
 Radiator should be kept in good condition; backflush regularly with a garden hose and keep topped up with correct amount of antifreeze all year round. Heater matrix can leak into passenger footwell due to perished heater pipe-retaining orings. Replacement means removing the complete dash assembly and tie hester. You won't enoy that.

5. Water Pump
 Coolant leaking down righthand side of cylinder block from under carburettors means the water pump is on the way out. Replacement involves removing curbs and inlet manifold then struggling to remove pump from cylinder block unless you use a puller.

6. Engine Removal
 Relatively straightforward except that most hire shop engine cranes don't have the length of jig or height to clear the TR7's long nose. Alternative method involves removing subframe, engine and transmission as one lump by unbolting and lifting car over the top.

7. Transmission / Drivetrain
 Early models had the weak Marina /Dolomite - derived four-speed gearbox and rear axle. Later ones got the more robust Rover SDl five speed units. Use automatic transmission fluid in five-speeders, even though your manual probably recommends heavier gearbox oil (topping up is a pain in the bum thanks to limited access). The clutch is usually reliable, but after many years of use the pivot pin wears through the fork, Prevent this by running a bead of weld around the outside of the depression in which the pin pivots.

8. Brakes
 Standard front brakes are barely up to everyday use, let alone spirited driving. Various kits are uvuilable to upgrade to four-pot calipers and ventilated discs. Check that the calipers will fit inside your wheels you may have to fit 14in wheels (but watch wheel arch clearance). Keep the rear brake automatic adjusters operating freely by regular cleaning and coating with copper-based lubricant; MOT failures are common due to seized adjusters. Steel braided brake hoses are worthwhile.

9. Suspension
 Generally too soft for many people's tastes in standard trim, but is exacerbated by worn shocks and tired springs. Uprated kits of both are available (and recommended – JP). Also check the rear axle trailing arm bushes which wear and cause bump steer along with front subframe mounting, front anti-roll bar and front suspension lower link hushes. Replace it sloppy (be warned, it's a tricky job). Many owners fit uprated bushes, but some prefer uprated ones on the axle end of the trailing arms and standard hushes at the body end. which will minimise noise and vibration.

10. Head Lamps
 Assure as day follows night your TR7 will suffer from popup headlamps which don't popup or if they do popup they'll stay up. Usual cause is bad electrical connections under the front wings (disconnect them periodically to clean and smear with petroleum jelly) or poor earthing. Up and down headpamp movement is controlled by a small black box next to the fuse box known as a Pektron unit. Standard seven inch sealed beam light units are poor, recommended upgrade is to halogen type (the kit is the same as for early MGBs).

11. Electrics
 Keep electrical problems at bay by regularly disconnecting and cleaning all the suspect earth connections - two at the front of the engine bay at the base of the inner wing, two more on each of the rear light clusters and a very important one on the inside of the A-post just behind the dash.

Simon Godrich