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Triumph Stag product pages
Triumph Spitfire product pages
TR7 and TR8 product pages
Quite unique in its time (1970-77), the Stag used the platform of the
‘Innsbruck’ Triumph 2000/2500 saloon and a special 3 litre V8, closely related
to the 1850 OHC Dolomite engine, to create a very attractive luxury four seat
tourer (and with the hardtop in place, a GT). Teething troubles with the engine
prevented it reaching its full potential, but expert hindsight can now avoid
the problems and make it a rewarding classic to run. Only 25,877 Stags were
built, so there is a built-in rarity value.
The Stag was designed in a period when it the American legislators were
expected to outlaw pure open cars. The built in roll-over bar and ‘T-brace’ to
the windscreen frame was intended to meet any roll-over crush tests, while at
the same time helping to achieve acceptable torsional rigidity without
excessively heavy floorpan stiffening.
Introduced in 1962, based on the Herald 1147cc chassis, the first model was
intially referred to as the ‘Spitfire 4’. Since the Herald-based six cylinder
1600 Vitesse also appeared in 1962, many expected a ‘Spitfire 6’ - but no open
top with the six ever appeared - instead there was the fastback GT6 of 1966.
Through the 1960s and 70s, Spitfire developed in competitive parallel with the
Austin Healey Sprite and MG Midget. It was always a little ahead in terms of
equipment and comfort features, but not quite so manageable in handling terms.
When they all became ‘family’ in the British Leyland merger of 1968, some
effort was made to position the cars in complementary rather than conflicting
roles, with the Spitfire moving upmarket at its 1970 facelift.
Designed with a very close eye on the requirements of the all-important
American sports car market, the TR7 was a very different animal to the previous
TR models. It majored on cabin space and comfort for physically large people
and on ease of servicing; in addition, it had to meet all of the increasingly
onerous emissions and safety legislation being generated in the USA. As the
safety laws stood, they appeared to exclude traditional open sports cars. By
the time that this unfortunate ruling had been overturned (sorry), it was too
late - the TR7 had been tooled up only as a fixed roof two seater coupe, being
launched in America in 1975, and in Europe in 1976. Belatedly, work progressed
to create a soft-top version, which really exploited the style potential of the
wedge shape, but this version had a very short life, being launched in USA in
1979 and in Europe in 1980. All TR7 production stopped in October 1981, because
the unwarranted strength of sterling caused substantial losses on exports to
America. The TR8 version, with the 3.5 litre V8 engine, similarly had a
shortened production run, only just under 2800 being built for the US in 1980
and early 1981. A pre-production batch of 18 TR8s was built for a UK press
launch, but this was cancelled, and the cars were auctioned off. There are far
more aftermarket TR7-V8 conversions than that around now.
Despite many trials and tribulations (such as having three factories closed
down on it !) the TR7 did achieve the highest sales of any individual TR model,
reaching a grand total of 114,463.
As a reminder of the horrific inflation in Britain during the 1970s, the TR7’s
price went from £2,999 at launch in 1975 to £7258 by September 1981.
The TR7, mainly in the form of what was coyly referred to as the ‘TR7 V8’, had
considerable success as a works rally car. The first win was by Tony Pond and
Mike Nicholson in the 1976 Raylor Rally, followed by another 11 outright wins,
8 second places and 8 third places on national and international events over