By on May 10, 2021

1976 Triumph TR7 in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI’ve been visiting car graveyards since I bought my first hooptie for 50 bucks in the early 1980s, and one thing about American junkyards has remained constant during the following four decades: the presence of 1970s British and Italian sports cars. Maybe they were a bit less weathered in 1987 or 1994 or 2006, but a steady trickle of discarded MGBs, 124 Sport Spiders, X1/9s, Jensen-Healeys, Spitfires, Midgets, and TR7s into U-Wrench yards has flowed at about the same rate throughout. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to discover this allegedly rare 1976 Triumph TR7 Victory Edition in a Denver-area yard last month.

1976 Triumph TR7 in Colorado junkyard, Victory Edition stripes - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Victory Edition celebrated the TR7‘s domination of its SCCA division, and it included these stripes and emblems. Note the melted Lucas marker-light lens, which fared poorly in the Colorado sun (in defense of the Prince of Darkness, Speke is a lot gloomier).

The Victory Edition got a vinyl roof as well. Again, the Denver climate is rougher on car exteriors than the Speke climate.

1976 Triumph TR7 in Colorado junkyard, Victory Edition wheel - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe “competition-type spoker wheels” of the Victory Edition looked racy. Unfortunately, they were recalled for spoke failure; can’t use the Speke Defense on that one.

1976 Triumph TR7 in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe interior is about as rough as you might expect. This 8-track sleeve suggests that the car got parked forever while Snif ‘n’ the Tears were still in the charts.

1976 Triumph TR7 in Colorado junkyard, speedometer - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe dusty odometer shows just over 50,000 miles, which I believe to be accurate.

1976 Triumph TR7 in Colorado junkyard, engine - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIf you know how to turn a wrench and diagnose a haunted circuit, however, these cars can be great fun. This version of the Slant-Four engine (a close cousin of which went into most Saabs of the late 1960s through early 1990s) made 90 horsepower, not bad for a 2,400-pound car in 1976.

1976 Triumph TR7 in Colorado junkyard, SOUTH BROADWAY'S BEST bumper sticker - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI’m pretty sure this sticker refers to one of the many now-defunct car dealerships on South Broadway in Englewood, just beyond the city limits of Denver and out of the reach of Denver County’s tax collectors.

1976 Triumph TR7 in Colorado junkyard, pinhole infrared photograph - ©2021 Murilee MartinI happened to bring along a 1910 Kodak modified with a pinhole lens and loaded with infrared film (as one does) that day at the junkyard, and it attempted to capture this British Leyland machine’s soul departing its body and beginning its journey back to Speke.

It holds the road like it has hands, and it goes like a bullet!

For links to more than 2,100 additional Junkyard Finds, Junkyard Gems, Junkyard Treasures, and Down On the Junkyard posts, visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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23 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1976 Triumph TR7 Victory Edition...”

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    This and the other mini sports cars of this generation are cars that I do not “get.” Obviously I was born too late in the late 70s to appreciate them. But, the hordes of old men with MGs and these sitting under tarps for the last 35 years waiting to get them back on the road – which never happens – clearly there is something about them. I appreciate the enthusiasm, but like I said, I just don’t get it.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      The answer is that few other vehicles provide the same ‘pure driving experience’ as a small, low to the ground, technologically simple European ‘sports car’ such as the Sprite. MGB, and Spitfire. As they say it is ‘more fun to drive a slow car fast, than a fast car slow’.

      Would love to try driving a Triumph Stag but those are few and far between.

      Views on the exterior design of the TR7 were somewhat divided. Many considered ‘the wedge’ to be the shape of the future. And in retrospect it has in my opinion aged well. with the exception of those bumpers.

      A close friend/business associate purchased a TR7 new. When it ran it was fun. The seats were in our estimation far more comfortable than those in my Corvette. The only issue was you were never quite sure whether the TR7 would get you to or from where you were going. And the issues were not just mechanical/electrical. During the first week that he owned his TR7, while making a turn out of a shopping plaza, the driver’s door came off.

      • 0 avatar

        Sincere question, couldn’t buyers looking for that experience just buy a Miata? We bought an NB with 16000 miles for $8500 a few years ago. Looked like new and runs great. Absolute hoot to drive on twisty roads or even around town running errands. So far just oil changes and inspections. We are at 31000 miles.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Yes. That is what a Miata is, a British ‘sports car’ that actually works. As Clarkson, May and Hammond mentioned repeatedly. However there are some who long for the cars of their youth and others who enjoy ‘tinkering’ with their vehicles. And these old British cars are relatively simple to work on, and often need constant tinkering.

          An MGB etc is the ancestral DNA of the Miata.

        • 0 avatar

          It depends. Are you looking for the experience of an MGB? Then yes, a Miata is far more competent stand-in. But if you want the experience of a Spitfire, Sprite, or better yet an Elan you’ll need to shed a LOT of wheelbase, weight, and size from even the NA Miata.

        • 0 avatar

          Something a lot of folks who weren’t around or aware when the Miata first arrived don’t get. Up to that point, a smallish reasonably-priced two-seat roadster like that (i.e., NOT a Merc SL) was accepted as “challenging” to keep running and reliable and not constantly dripping on the floor. Many rose to the challenge, but it was inconceivable you could buy a Triumph or MG or Fiat roadster as a daily driver.

          Mazda changed that by putting out a roadster you could take on a day trip without packing extra belts, oil, fluids, your tool kit and a prayer book. They rolled the dice and used the same RWD template, it would’ve been easier and cheaper to use a FWD drivetrain (front or rear wheels).Then they priced it to where it made sense as an extra “toy” for well-heeled folks or a daily driver for someone looking at a well-equipped 323 but yawning or wanting a more classic sporty ride than an RX7.

          It was the right car at the right time. But I was just ‘that much’ too tall until the NC.

      • 0 avatar

        The “shape of the things to come” tagline was the ad copy, but perhaps lots of people took it as fact. It wasn’t entirely wrong–see Corvette, Fiero, Supra, TVR, etc.–but it was still an odd mashup of late ’60s curves with a doorstop profile. BL *really* didn’t want to copy the X1/9, Montecarlo, or anything else Italian. The overall result has aged fairly well today, helped by its small size compared with most modern cars.

        It’s a little like the 914, great handling but a very underwhelming drivetrain.

    • 0 avatar

      Land Ark said “I just don’t get it.”

      Think of it more as owning a motorcycle versus owning a Camry.

      That is why the convertibles are most popular.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      This and the other mini sports cars of this generation are cars that I do not “get.”

      Just imagine all the fun and pleasure of darting around in a little Miata and subtract the reliability.

      I think to really understand these cars you have to drive a full sized American car of the same era – big, wide, numb steering, no handling. This cars were the diametric opposite. And yes they were unreliable but Detroit iron of that era wasn’t particularly reliable either. Sure the worst 2020 econobox handles better and is more reliable and has more power and is safer, but back then you couldn’t buy a 2020 econobox for any amount of $.

  • avatar

    Knowing what I remember about these cars this has probably been sitting in this graveyard since about ’79 or ’80. 50K miles was about as good as it got for TR7s

  • avatar

    The US sales branch was supporting the SCCA program pretty well with the TR7. My buddy who was a Sprite racer got a free body in white and some stock engines. But it was difficult to beat the TR6s in the same class which had a better developed engine.

  • avatar

    I’m personally not a fan of doing EV conversions on muscle cars or pre 1950s stuff.
    However I think many 70s and 80s cars (like this Triumph) would be a good candidate.

  • avatar
    kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh

    I see no ”Victory” here .. this .. this is years of busted knuckles, frustration and and a slowly evolving hatred of any car from triumph after about 2 years of continuous breakdowns

  • avatar

    Nothing a Buick V6 couldn’t solve. ;-)

  • avatar

    Grew up in the ’60s and ’70s in Denver with several buddies that drove TR7s and MBGs. They were fun, but I much preferred my 70 Chevelle SS 396. Love your posts Murilee!

  • avatar

    I once owned an MG TF, which most readers on here won’t know too well as it was only sold in Europe. But it’s worth mentioning it was a long way ahead of the MX5 at the time, being mid engine with far superior handling. I wouldn’t have looked twice at a Miata, the TF was the best little sports car ever. BMW likes it so much that they refused to sell it in the US because they were worried it would take sales off the Z3

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