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INTRODUCTION : TR8_cartoon.jpg (8106 bytes)It's now 20 years since the first Triumph TR7 rolled of the line and into dealer showrooms. Billed as The Shape of Things to Come by British Leyland, Triumph's parent company at the time, the entire concept of the car caught people by surprise. The big issue for sports car enthusiasts was figuring out how the car had evolved from the earlier TR range, and the obvious and perplexing conclusion was that it hadn't. The TR7 was clearly unlike any TR before, but it was also unlike virtually everything else on the road as well. What, then, to make of it? To answer that question requires some understanding of the emerging North American market for cars in the early to mid-seventies, and how transformations taking place in the British automotive industry related to that market.

From the beginning of TR7 development , British Leyland saw North America as a primary destination for its new sportscar. Codenamed "Bullet" by the factory, the car was to be the first of a new line of Triumph cars with a selection of engines, including a long-wheelbase 4-seater hatchback called the Lynx. There was a big problem, though. Legislation was expected which would ban convertible cars, so British Leyland made the decision to produce a sports coupe, rather than a more traditional open-topped car. Related to safety legislation in the US was a requirement for bumpers that could withstand a 5mph (8kmh) crash. Under that legislation you would be able to drive your car into a post at 5mph, not damage the car's body, and have the bumper able to regain its original shape. Additional legislation specified minimum bumper height and minimum requirements for headlight height.TR7_mine.jpg (58694 bytes)This proposed legislation had a direct impact on the way the TR7 was to look, and was to be built. Unfortunately for Triumph, the ban on convertibles never occurred, and American legislators halved the 5mph bumper rule to 2.5mph. This left Triumph to introduce their new big-bumpered coupe at a time when you could still buy a convertible TR6,Spitfire or MG, as well as a range of European alternatives.

So one reason why the TR7 didn't owe much to earlier TR sportscars was because of the constraints imposed by proposed legislation in the US. Another reason had to do with the way British Leyland rationalized its holdings in an attempt to make itself profitable into the future. Part of the company's reorganization involved the decision not to further develop the MG line of sports cars, in favour of Triumph. Apparently the Triumph factory was more modern than that of MG, and MG was working on a new mid-engined car that BL had no interest in at all. So Triumph got the nod for development, a decision which MGB enthusiasts have not forgotten to this day. The principal designer of the TR7 was Harris Mann, a stylist working in the old Austin-Morris design studios. The earlier TR range was heavily influenced by the Michelloti studios in Italy (TR4) and the Karmann studios in Germany (TR6). But the TR7 was entirely an in-house project: a completely new car for a new era. Different it was -- low front, high tail, wide, looked like a wedge -- was this really the shape of things to come? For many people it just didn't look right, and from the beginning the design suffered the slings and arrows of people who couldn't or wouldn't adapt to its revolutionary shape.

The Shape. That's what the advertisers fixed on as the defining feature of the car. The Shape of Things to Come, Get into the Shape, The Shape of Things that Win, and simply, The Shape. But by 1976, the scramble was on to change the shape by getting the roof off the TR7. For this task, Triumph returned to the Italian design studio of Michelotti, and by the time of its NA introduction in 1979, what some thought an ugly duckling had certainly turned into a swan.


When Triumph began to design the TR7, they intended to include a fastback coupe version which was code-named 'Lynx'. Because the Lynx concept kept changing, it ran well behind the TR7 which was launched in 1975. This car is thought to be the last of 18 Lynx prototypes built and the only survivor. The Lynx had a lengthened wheelbase allowing rear seats to be fitted and the TR7 panels were restyled to give different side feature lines. It was fitted with the Rover V8 engine and this particular car has Lucas electronic fuel injection.The Lynx was seen as the successor to the Triumph Stag which had been discontinued in 1977. However as the 1970s drew to a close, BL were coming to the conclusion that they should withdraw from the sports car market and the Lynx project was shelved.

Engine : V8 cyl, 3528 cc, 190 bhp
Top Speed: 125 mph (201 km/h)
Coachwork : Sports fastback coupe
Registration Mark : BHP 2T

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