Irrational Love – Triumph TR8

This is one that will divide the internet; my love for the Triumph TR8. Many people loathe this little wedge-shaped coupe, but I think its cool. Maybe it is my love for cars so ugly they’re endearing, or maybe it’s the concept of stuffing a V8 engine into a small British car. Either way, I am captivated by this sports car.

Beginning officially in 1978, the TR8 was essentially a TR7 coupe or convertible with a Buick Rover 3.5-liter V8 replacing the original 2.0-liter four-cylinder. There were other changes between the two cars, such as larger brakes installed on the TR8 to handle the extra weight and increased speed.

But the engine was the focal point, making between 133 hp and 148 hp depending on year and configuration. This may not sound like a lot for an eight-cylinder engine. But keep in mind this was during the late 1970s when a 1978 Camaro 5.0-liter V8 only made between 135 hp and 145 hp. Plus, the TR8 weighed a scant 2,700 or so lbs.

Regardless, the TR8 wasn’t intended to set the world fire, it was just a more powerful option to the regular Triumph TR7. It also made much nice noises when equipped with the stock muffler as heard here, or glorious music when unleashed here.

Reports from back in the day didn’t hail the TR8 as a driving masterpiece, but again, that isn’t what draws me to the car. There is just something about the out of proportion looking exterior that catches my eye. The car seems to sit too high and the rear end design is a bit of a mess. But I still love it.

For the missteps of the exterior, the interior is nicely finished. It is simple, clean and elegant in a very British sort of way. The five-speed manual transmission sticks high out of the center tunnel and has period correct long throws.

One Bad Ass TR8

Regardless what your opinion is on the regular TR8, it is hard to argue that the race car version from Group 44 was not one impressive machine. The wide bodywork and aero add-ons transform the car into a cool looking racer. But it was more than just a looker.

In 1979 it absolutely dominated Trans Am racing and was effectively regulated out of the series. Not to be deterred, it left Trans-Am and proceeded to enter IMSA for the 1980 season. Here, it finished second in the GTO class, beating out many Corvettes and Porsche RSRs. It appears to be for sale if you’re interested too!

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