Tag Archives: TR8

Nice Door Handles – Morris Marina ADO 28

With the merger of Jaguar with British Motor Corporation in 1966 the new merger was renamed British Motor Holdings and after a further merger with Leyland commercial vehicles the corporation became known as British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968. British Leyland as it was known decided that the Austin and Morris brands should be differentiated in the early 1970’s with Austin vehicles being based around the front wheel drive (FWD) concept pioneered by Ales Issignosis with models like the Mini, 1100 and 1800 series vehicles while Morris vehicles would be more traditional with front engines driving rear axles (RWD) as they had on the Morris Minor and Morris Oxford models.

Morris Marina, Bristol Classic Car Show, Shepton Mallet

The design of the Marina coded ADO 28 was started by Roy Haynes who’s CV included the design of the popular Mk II Ford Cortina, however a disagreement over a common floor pan to share between models as espoused by Roy led to him quitting and Triumph Designer Harry Webster finishing the job by which time the intended Macpherson strut front suspension had been abandoned in favour of Morris Minor style tortion bars and a new gearbox design was abandoned in favour of an existing item from the Triumph parts bin.

Morris Marina, Atwell Wilson Museum, Calne

All in all the development costs of the conservative RWD concept Marina ended up exceeding those of the more radical FWD Allegro which was developed to be Austin’s competitor in the small family car market. Production facilities at Cowley had to be upgraded which included some comedy as an overpass was built so that the motors could be sent from a plant on the opposite side of a municipal road to the assembly plant, no sooner had the overpass been completed than the municipality offered to sell the road which British Leyland did not think twice to accept.

Morris Marina, Qwara, Malta

On a positive note the AMC Ambassador inspired vertical hinged door handles were a huge hit with Lotus founder Colin Chapman who specified them for use on the Lotus Elite, Eclat and Esprit models, Marina door handles were also adopted by Scimitar for the GTE shooting break while British Leyland used the same handles on the Triumph TR7/TR8, Austin Allegro and they eventually even found their way, finished in matt black, onto the Land Rover Discovery Series I.

Morris Marina, Cotswolds Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

Marina cars were powered by a variety of motors most common of which for the UK market was a 57 hp 4 cylinder A series which did not do much for performance but kept the handling within safer limits than the heavier more powerful motors which promoted lane changing understeer / push which induced the odd brown trousers moment for some Marina pilots.

Morris Marina, Cotswolds Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

The Marinas seen here are in order top to bottom a ’72 Coupé at the Bristol Classic Car Show, Shepton Mallet, ’74 Twin Carburettor saloon sedan at the Atwell Wilson Museum, a Maltese 1500 saloon / sedan with after market alloy wheels and waist trim in Qwara, a ’79 Estate and ’72 Coupé both at the Cotswolds Classic Car Club meeting held at Frogsmill, Andoversford and below a saloon / sedan with an unusually straight rear bumper seen at last years Classics at the Castle, Sherborne.

Morris Marina, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne

Although much derided for almost every detail apart from the door handles the undemanding early 70’s British public lapped up Marina’s painted in tepid colours like Russet Brown, Harvest Gold, and Limeflower Green for the car to peak at second in the sales charts behind the Ford Cortina in 1973 and remain in the top 3 or 4 until 1980. Eventually over 897,000 Marina’s were sold in the UK of which 745 are thought to remain on British roads.

Thanks for joining me on this “Nice Door Handles” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


English Corvette – TR7 V8

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The prototype V8 powered Triumph TR7 variant was produced as early as 1972. The performance of the model led to these vehicles being dubbed English Corvettes in some circles.

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The Triumph TR8 Coupe was in production from 1978 to 1980 the TR8 Drophead was designed by Michelotti and introduced in 1980 continuing in production until 1982.

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As a result of poor labour relations and the inherent industrial action it is thought that only 400 TR8 Coupes were built along with an estimated 2400 Dropheads, the majority of which were sold in the United States and Canada.

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In other countries outside North America some TR7 owners upgraded their cars with variations of the all alloy Buick / Rover 3528cc / 215 cui V8. From the best records available to me this appears to be one such upgraded car.

My thanks to the Pistonhead who brought this TR7 V8 along to the Sunday Service at the BMW plant back in January.

Slightly off topic, why is it the only time ‘my’ driver ‘Happy’ Harvick wins a cup race I am too busy too catch it ?

Congratulations to Kevin, who is misquoted to give this blog it’s name, and the #29 Richard Childress Team 🙂

Hope you have enjoyed today’s English Corvette edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now!


Coming up Short – Triumph TR8 Twin Turbo

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 !


Sunday Service – MINI Plant Car Park

I took the 191,000 mile Passat out for a 180 mile spin yesterday to the MINI plant in Cowley just outside Oxford where the PistonHeads had organised a Sunday Service, a free gathering of 800 folks who like to worship their cars.

When I read through the list of vehicles that were booked to attend including a Ferrari California at the top of the list, my sceptical, if it’s too good to be true on the internet it is, side imagined some of those hoping to attend might be having a laugh.

However as evidenced by this very expensive tax disc, many people did in fact turn up in the vehicles promised, of the 50 plus vehicles from 28 manufacturers I photographed there were two current different model Rolling Royces, five Ferraris, helping to secure Ferrari Fridays for a while yet (!), 5 Bristols in 4 flavours a couple of Chevrolets and a 1938 Ford Deluxe Hotrod.

On an absolutely freezing morning the MINI visitor provided a welcome shelter with a completely eclectic collection of Mini’s both originals and Retro models photo’s of which I look forward to sharing in the fullness of time.

The meeting started at 9 am prompt and we were asked to clear the area by 1 pm. Ironically the afternoon drive home was in brilliant sunshine which would have been very welcome while I was taking these pix, but I guess we can’t have everything, certainly not in January.

With over 400 photographs to sort out I thought I’d share a handful of details to give you a flavour of what is to come here at Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres !’

I’d like to thank everyone at Pistonheads and the MINI visitor centre who made my first Sunday Service so much fun and finally I’d like to thank all the PistonHeads who brought such a fascinating collection of vehicles.

Hope you enjoyed some of the details in today’s edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you’ll join me again tomorrow for a trip inside the MINI Visitor centre. Don’t forget to come back now !