Triumph TR7 Sprint – The Sports Car that Was Not Meant to Be

Triumph TR7 Sprint - Red colorTriumph TR7 Sprint holds a special place in the Triumph projects that never saw the light of day in terms of commercial production. It was one of the most anticipated sports cars of the 1970s and every fan of the brand has probably heard the story. But what happened exactly?

Triumph TR7 was a well known model that was in production from 1974 until 1981. The Sprint was meant to add up to the power and comfort of the vehicle in order to improve the TR7 and actually create a great sports car. The main difference between the ordinary TR7 and the Sprint version was engine. TR7 run on a 105 bhp 2-litre, 8-valve version of the Triumph slant-four engine, while in the Triumph TR7 Sprint it was replaced with a more powerful  2-litre 16-valve version – the same that was already in use with the Dolomite Sprint.

Specifications of the Triumph TR7 Sprint

Engine: Triumph Slant Four 1,998cc 16 valve

Capacity: 1998 cc

Valves: 16

Compression ratio: 9.5:1

Fuel system: Twin 1¾” choke SU HS6 carburettors

Maximum Power: 127 bhp @ 5200 rpm (estimated)

Maximum Torque: 122 lb ft @ 4500 rpm (estimated)

Maximum speed: 120 mph (estimated)


0-65 mph: 8.5 seconds (estimated)

It is not entirely certain when development of the model began, but it is safe to assume that this happened at some point around the release of the TR7 in 1974. According to the available documentation, the Triumph TR7 Sprint was ready for mass production by 1977. The problem is that this never happened, and the accounts of what went wrong vary.

The Strike

There was a major strike at the BL Speke Factory which lasted for as many as 17 weeks in the end of 1977 and the beginning of 1978. All TR7s and the few TR7 Sprint prototypes were manufactured there. The whole ordeal led to closure of the entire plant in May 1978 and thus the company was forced to move their production facilities in Canley in Coventry. Ultimately that put an end on the Triumph TR7 Sprint project, or at least that was the official reason given at the time.

Change of power within Triumph Motor Company

Until 1977, managing director of Triumph Motors company was Lord Stokes, but in that year he was replaced on the post by South African Businessman Michael Edwardes. Many devoted fans at the time saw the change of the aristocratic management with a “mere” businessman, who was on top of everything else a foreigner as the main reason behind the cancellation of the much anticipated model.

The marketing department is the one to blame

Triumph TR7 Sprint - White ColorA third theory was also suggested. It states that the most probably cause for cancellation of the Triumph TR7 Sprint project was actually the marketing department of the company. The specialists working there felt that the 0-60 mph acceleration speed as well as the different engine were actually… not that different from the already existing TR7 model. They thought the project did not have enough commercial value and appeal, thus it could not be marketed well. The logical thing was to cut the losses and never allow TR7 Sprint to see the light of day.

Whatever the reasons for the cancellation of the project were, the fact remains that between 59 and 62 cars of the series were produced. After the project went to the recycle bin, those Sprints were auctioned off to private collectors, who are now lucky to posses at least one of probably the most interesting sports cars that were never meant to be.

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