The TR7 may be less adored than earlier TRs, but even the very best are still very affordable
Torque: 119lb ft@3500rpm
0-60 mph: 9.1sec
Fuel consumption: 24-30mpg
Transmission: RWD: five-speed manual
Dismissing the TR7 for its awkward rear styling or ‘mere’ four-cylinder engine is to do this highly under-appreciated classic a great injustice. The TR7 isn’t the only bargain sub-£5k sporting classic around, but it’s certainly one of the most striking. It’s also highly usable without running the risk of spoiling its residual value. It is, in short, a great cash-free classic. It oozes a different sort of character from its hallowed predecessors from behind the wheel, but there’s plenty of it, and those earlier TRs will cost you many thousands more.
You get a deeply stylish and snug- fitting interior, perfect for cosseting you and your lucky passenger during weekends away. But the even better news is that not much money can buy you something that’s really been cared for. TR7s often excite deep devotion from their owners, perhaps because of their underdog status. This trumps any concerns you might have about build quality because any niggles arising from manufacturing flaws will have been ironed out by now and later cars fared better on that front anyway. Despite values picking up a little, roadworthy examples can still be had less than £3k, but they are likely to need fairly steep expenditure. Given that even a clean example with thousands spent on it might only cost £6k, there’s little to be gained from scrimping. The route to a proper ‘cash-free’ TR7, then, is definitely to buy the best that you can afford.
What Should You Check?
1 - Check The Engine’s Health
Warping of the aluminium cylinder head is a primary concern, so coolant condition should be inspected; signs of oil/coolant contamination are a serious matter. Engine swaps are popular, including Dolomite units and Rover V8s; judge each on its own merits.
2 - How’s The Transmission?
The 1978-on five-speed ‘box is stronger than the earlier four-speed, which can jump out of gear on the overrun. Hard acceleration can cause the five-speed to rattle if its low on oil and a sticky clutch is a sure sign of under use – what else might you need to recommission it?
3 - Check Carefully For Rust
Wings and inner arches suffer, as do the headlamp pods. The inner and outer sills are also notorious. Rust around the windscreen is very expensive to restore, so avoid. Rear suspension arm mounts accumulate dirt, so these need checking for structural rot, too.
4 - How’s The Headlining?
Cars with a Webesto roof have wooden frames that rot easily and repairs are costly, so a TR7 with a stained headlining is unlikely to be ‘cash-free’. Watch out for water leaks from dropheads or sunroofs; they’ll invisibly rot floors and wiring, so be very cautious if you find damp.
5 - Has It Been Laid Up?
Many are laid up for winter, so there’s a risk of brakes seizing. Steering vibration at speed can be tricky to diagnose, so assess it on your test drive. Suspension issues aren’t common, but there are plenty of upgrade kits, so quiz the seller about what’s been fitted.