The Early Years (1976 – 2005)
The TR7 you see in this blog was built in September 1976, with a chassis number of ACG3424-A (more on the -A suffix later). A fixed head coupe (FHC) in Pimento red, she was first registered in November 1976 with registration MCC 166R by Hollingdrake Ltd of Colwyn Bay.
In the time since, she seems to have had an interesting history (at least according to the notes that came with the car – highlights include:
- Possibly a 16v Sprint engine fitted in 1983
- Out of use between 1987 & 1989, when it was sold as a restoration project (by this time she had migrated from N. Wales to Birmingham)
- Given (still unrestored) to Tracey ??? in 1990
- Sold (still unrestored) to Tracey’s father (cheeky or what!)
- She was then rebuilt (not restored) and put back on the road in 1991
- Sold again, and properly restored (although a bit of welding wouldn’t have gone amiss 😉 ), including a new gearbox and a respray.
Since that time, as far as I can tell, she spent her time around the Birmingham/Coventry area until one fateful night in 2005, when the current owner met ‘some guy’ who was interested in the car after seeing an ebay ad that evening.
Codename: Rosie (2005 – present)
Back in 2005, I had a little bit of money to spend, and was looking around for a classic car to buy. For reasons that escape me now, I was set on a Triumph of some flavour. After looking around at Spitfires for a while, and bidding on (and losing) a nice, if tatty Mk3, I had a look at the TR7. The evening I first looked on eBay, I saw this:
Wow. Tidy looking, good colour, the price was reasonable, and it was local to me. So I dropped the guy a message, he responded, and a couple of hours later I was there looking at the car. To my inexperienced eye, she looked great! Of course, I was looking at the car in the dark, and the test drive consisted of a quick drive up and down the road by the garages, but that was good enough for me. The seller had a buy it now option, and after losing the Spitfire auction I didn’t want to let this one get away, so I went straight home and bought it. A couple of days later I went and picked her up.
Getting To Know Her
I still remember the drive home – she seemed noisy (compared to my daily driver, she was – that’s part of the charm!) and the driving position was weird. But, I soon grew used to it all, and the little TR7 was the thing that revived my interest in driving and cars in general – just like I hoped it would!
The name came about soon after I bought her – she (and she’s definitely a she, don’t ask me why I know) seemed like a car that needed a name. I was fitting a new stereo to replace the rather lame one in the car, I popped in a CD I had, set it on random, and the first song to play was AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie”. An awesome song, and now a great name for my new purchase!
The first few months were fairly standard, as these things go – I drove her around all over the place, sometimes for transport (she had a stint of being my daily driver for a couple of months), but mostly for fun, I tweaked a few things (I got quite good at tuning and balancing the carbs by ear), repaired a few things, went to a few club meetings, and generally had a blast.
A few things went wrong, of course, the most critical being the rear axle. It blew one of the oil seals, and unfortunately I didn’t notice until it had lost pretty much all the diff oil and starting making horrible grinding noises. Result: new rear axle. 🙁 Overall though, she proved to be quite reliable, which gave me the confidence to take her on the ultimate test:
The Round Britain Reliability Run (RBRR)
Held by Club Triumph, this is a road rally for all model Triumphs, originally incepted as a reliability run for new cars. It’s been run in some form ever since, and the concept is this: Drive from London on the Friday evening, up to John O’Groats for breakfast on Saturday, then down to Lands End for breakfast on the Sunday, then finally back to London for Sunday evening. 2000 miles or so in one weekend, it’s a big challenge for car and drivers alike!
I entered the event in October 2006 with my dad as a co-driver, and I’m pleased to report that Rosie proved to be more than up to the challenge! A great time was had, and apart from a problem with the points after leaving Lands End, there were no real problems.
After the RBRR, I decided to change the points out (I’d had continual trouble with this before – the RBRR problems were the last straw), and upgrade to a Lumenition electronic system, as well as stripping down and rebuilding the carbs. Unfortunately this gave me a lot of problems – the distributor simply refused to come apart, and once I’d got it all back together, she wouldn’t start. A lot of messing around later (this was in the winter and I was working in the dark, so it took a long time), she was finally back up and running. I did a few bits and pieces on her (documented in the blog by this point), and in summer 2007 I took her off the road for the restoration that’s still ongoing at the time of writing.
At around the end of 2006, I’d started to notice that Rosie wasn’t all that she could be. The mechanicals were getting tired and rust bubbles were starting to show through – I was particularly concerned about the windscreen frame (with good cause, as it turned out!). All in all, not surprising for a thirty year old car with sixteen years since any serious work carried out. The original plan was to just take her off the road for some remedial work on the body as well as a revamp (and potentially V8 conversion) of the mechanicals and electrics, but in the course of stripping her down, I decided that things were a lot worse than I’d really been hoping for. So the remedial work has turned into a full nut-and-bolt restoration! Would I have started this project had I known how bad it was going to be? Probably – I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the car, and getting rid of her for something ‘better’ would have felt like sacrilege. Looking back, though, it would probably have been better to start with a new shell – not cheap by any means, but the amount of money I’ll have ended up spending on this shell probably won’t be too far off what a new one would have cost. Still, live and learn, and at least this way I can claim she’s still original(ish).