It has become common practice in modern society to “rewrite the narrative” and look back at the past as we experienced it (at the time) and then recast it as something altogether different with the benefit of hindsight and perspective.
Somewhere in the back of our collective memory I am sure we all know that the unloved Triumph TR7 was the best-selling TR of all-time. I am equally sure that we rationalize that fact by attacking the decade in which it was sold and point to the fact that so few of them appear to be left on the road. My question is, “where did the 140,000 cars go?”
When was the last time that you saw a TR7 on the road? Personally, I have seen more Ferrari GTOs in the past three years than I have of the once ubiquitous wedge. Were they all reduced to mounds of red oxide having been waylaid by blown head gaskets or were they abandoned at the first opportunity by uncaring owners?
It may be hard to admit at times, but I am a fan of the Triumph TR7 (and an even greater admirer of its larger-engined TR8 brethren) and have had three run across my path over the years.
It says something that the first was purchased in 1990 for $25, the second in 2009 for $400 and the most recent was actually a “just get it out of the garage and its yours” deal. While it’s hard to get a good set of tires for less than $500, all three cars found a new purpose in my care (or at least I hope the latest one will too). Having driven all manner of cars, including almost every British sports car ever produced, the TR7 remains one of the best-handling and fun to drive cars of them all (although it might be heretical to speak such thoughts out loud).
The TR7 is a fine car and its styling is of an era when Charlie had angels and one boarded the Pacific Princess for love. Hair was feathered, pants were tight and disco reigned. While the 70s may not have the intrinsic appeal of the fifties or sixties, or even the eighties for that matter, the TR7 is a perfect time machine to revisit an era that almost all of us were alive for (even though we may have been in diapers at the time). The Mustang II or Chevy Vega bring an image of a gold medallion resplendent in a tuft of chest hair visible through an unbuttoned silk shirt. The Tr7 evokes labor strife, too many drinks at the local pub the night before and soccer hooligans. Which would you rather have? After all, the TR7 killed Triumph and was the beginning of the end of the British auto industry; where else can you find a car with that kind of historical impact?
Does anyone out there still have a TR7? Did you then? Does anyone still love the Wedge? If so, where are you and why don’t we hear more from you. In almost every meeting regarding the future of the hobby I hold out against reason and argue that the TR7 will go the way of the rubber-bumper MGB and make a comeback into collectibility. Usually, that optimism is met with laughter if not outright scorn but I continue to hope and believe that the numbers of TR7s – on the decline for so many years now – will start to rise as collectors restore the cars and put them back on the road.
If there are any aficionados of the TR7 out there, please let me know. I would like to hear from you and maybe start a 12-step program or organize a support group for us (Wedgies Anonymous?). But most importantly, find a wedge, fix it up and put it back on the road. It will be the cheapest (and possibly the most fun) British car you will ever own.