All of motor sport is littered with heroic failure and there is possibly none less understandable than the Janspeed Engineering Triumph TR8 twin turbo, when one considers John Buffum’s success with the TR8 on the US Rally Stages in North America and Bob Tuliis equally outstanding success with his TR8 on the race tracks, so much in fact Bob was forced into a successful switch from SCCA to IMSA series.
Like the Buffum and Tullis programmes Janspeed’s Le Mans programme had absolutely zero factory backing but unlike Buffum and Tullis, Janspeed did not even have a budget to run the car let alone test it.
Legend has it that this vehicle started life as a left hand drive test hack used by Janspeed on behalf of British Leyand, when the tests had been completed Jan Odour acquired the vehicle with the intention of preparing it for a British modified series, however a change of rules in that series, around 1977, led Jan Odour to attempt something far more ambitious namely to take on the onslaught of Group 5 Porsche 935‘s in the World Sports Car series.
The Janspeed TR8 ran with a dry sumped twin turbo version of the all alloy Olds/Buick V8 design purchased by Rover and was said to produce over 500 hp, but it failed to set a qualifying time on it’s debut at Silverstone in 1980, where the car was loaned out to ADA Engineering in a vane effort to get the car onto the track.
Later at Le Mans despite being recorded travelling in excess of 200 mph on the Mulsanne the car failed to qualify.
I remember looking forward to seeing what the TR8 could do when I returned to Silverstone in 1981, despite arriving in time to catch qualifying I was already too late, the car had been crashed and withdrawn from the race much to my disappointment.
Later in 1981 the car ran again at Brands Hatch where it qualified but failed to finish after a spin and a stall, unfortunately I was in Germany at the time so I never did get to see possibly my all time favourite Triumph run.
Hope you have enjoyed today’s twin turbo edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, and that you’ll join me again tomorrow for a look at a truly unique vehicle that was perhaps just an on board sick bag short of reaching production. Don’t forget to come back now !