THE Triumph TR7 was hardly a fitting finale to the long line of TR sports cars produced under the Triumph banner.
The six-cylinder TR6 was a fabulous car and when it came to the end of its shelf life fans of the marque were overjoyed to hear that it was going to be replaced.
When the wraps were thrown off the new TR7 in 1975 there was an embarrassed silence in many quarters because although in was recognized that Triumph, under BL ownership had to move with the times, the resulting product fell far short of expectations.
Launched initially in America, Britain had to wait until 1976 to sample the car which turned out to be another unappealing British Leyland hotch-potch of ideas.
For a start, it was underpowered. Many had hoped that a V8 or straight six would have found its way under the bonnet. But no, BL slotted in a 1850cc four-cylinder unit which really was not the right engine, compounded by the fact that the gearbox was from the mundane Morris Marina.
The styling by Harris Mann, who designed the Austin Allegro also came under fire. Its wedge-shaped look in the original hardtop version just did not strike the right chord with TR fans. However, the later convertible was a much better looking car.
And in true BL style the car had a reputation for breaking down.
Build quality was an issue too. I tried to have charitable thoughts about this car when one eventually came my way for road testing but when the door handle came off in my hand things were never quite the same again.
At the time British Leyland was taking a lot of stick over its products and the TR7 was no exception. To be fair, it featured modern pop-up headlights but its styling was quirky and the use of some strange tartan-like patterns in the seat and trim materials of some variations just did not tick the box with me.
But for all the criticism from Triumph purists, the TR7 sold faster than the TR6 ever had. It was more like a two-seat saloon than an out and out sports car and the price was also right for those who wanted to be seen in a Triumph TR.
But later in the car's career BL made amends with a Rover powered V8 version which was what the car deserved in the first place. Frustratingly this model was aimed at the USA and few found their way on the British roads.
However, a lot of TR7s were retro-fitted with the V8 and the car came into its own.