The Winning Bid

What would you pay for this barn find Triumph TR8?

by Antony Ingram
24 September 2021 2 min read
Photo by Historics Auctioneers

This story originally appeared on

To succeed at selling sporty cars in America you need eight cylinders and seductive styling. The Triumph TR8 had at least one of those things when it was developed as an offshoot of the TR7 in the late 1970s, and the other has undoubtedly improved with time (we’ll leave you to work out which).

This barn find example being offered by Historics Auctioneers at Ascot on September 25 will need some work before either its Rover V8 engine or its styling are as they were when the car left the factory in 1980. But with only 73 miles on the clock, and as one of only 14 right-hand drive TR8 drop-tops, it’s sure to garner interest. How much is your car to insure? Find out in four easy steps.Get a quote

The Hagerty Price Guide puts values for a 1980 TR8 between $4800 for a ‘fair’, daily-driven example, and $31,600 for a concours car. Clearly, this one is neither of those things—Historics confirms that it will need a complete restoration.

Built initially for the USA, early TR8s were only available in coupé form, the Michelotti-inspired convertible not reaching the market until October of their introductory year. A right-hand drive model then received the thumbs-up from BL management, leading to the build of the small pre-production run, of which this car is a part. However, shortly after they were completed BL’s parlous state contributed to cancellation of production.

The ‘Pendelican White’ paintwork (a reference to a type of Greek marble, if you’re wondering) has been stained brown by numerous patches of rust, while tinworm has also found its way under the bonnet and no doubt underneath the car too. The hood appears in good shape but the plastic rear screens have survived less well, and while the interior looks complete, it’s probably just as well nobody has invented a way to let you smell these images.

On the plus side, this TR8 is more than just a car bought from a dealer and then unwisely stored away for four decades. Its specification, including a tan interior and automatic gearbox, marks it out as one of a small pre-production run built to validate the car for US sale, and this pre-production status has been verified with a British Motor Heritage Certificate.

Worth saving then, and worth enjoying afterwards, because for all its contemporary faults, the Triumph TR8 – the “English Corvette” – is still a low-slung, drop-top sports car with a 3.5-litre V8 up front. Doesn’t sound too bad when you put it like that, does it?


  • Al says:

    I believe that if you check production numbers there were very few coupes produced even for the US. It is extremely rare to see a TR8 coupe come up for sale.

  • Steve Clinton says:

    I’m thinking $5,000 for it, but I would want to make sure the seller’s check cleared first.

  • greg chown says:

    I believe the Rover V8 is a direct descendant of Buick’s early 60’s aluminum V8.
    They sold all the tooling to Rover in the mid-late 60’s.
    A friend of mine just bought a 1958 MGA with this same engine fitted for racing…..

  • A. DiPasqua says:

    The wheels look nice. (Other than that; Mrs. Lincoln how did you like the play)
    This looks like the start of a money pit.

  • Bob Gregg says:

    The only thing that makes this mess of a vehicle of any interest at all, is the odometer reading, and that is merely of passing interest (to me anyway). I agree with Steve Clinton on this one and believe its only value is in so many cents per pound.

  • Mr Michael says:

    Probably $30,000 on BaT

  • Mike says:

    Rare, but a hot mess which needs everything. Not so rare that you could not find a sorted one for a fraction of what you will dump into this.

  • Rick L. says:

    My 1984 Mustang has 00,003 on it right now, or yeah, that is 200,003 miles on it as it only has five digits. Has this been verified? I guess as a museum piece “as is” may have some worth. However, to restore (which means you have to wash off the “barn find” dirt) would cost as much if not more than finding the best non restored. What would you do with it “as is”?

  • George says:

    I’m not buying 073 mile, more like 100,073 miles

  • JakeSnake says:

    I owned a 1976 Victory Edition TR7. I’d say 73 miles is just about right for it to have broken down.

  • jim says:

    I’ll start the bidding at $12.00. 12, 12, 12, 12, 12, I have $12.00, 13, 13, 13, 13, 13…

  • Denny says:

    In the photo it does have a 6 number odometer so it would have to be either a million mile car, which would be a landmark in this vehicle, or 73 miles.

  • Carl Virden says:

    Forty some odd years ago my neighbor bought a TR8. I only saw him drive it once but being a car guy, I remember the sound of the little V8. It was a very unusual little car but I always wondered why he didn’t buy a Sunbeam Tiger instead. Paul also had a nice XKE in his garage which he soon crashed, and as a result died. I don’t know what happened to the TR8.

  • Carl Virden says:

    By the way, I would never waste my time (I’m old) or money on a trashed English car. Let it be a sunken fish reef.

  • Tony says:

    Still look´s great, love the Lines!

  • John Baguley says:

    I struggle to believe this car has only 73 miles on it. I have a 1980 TR7 with 125,000 miles, my former daily driver, and has been kept either in an apartment carport or an unheated/non-AC garage for 41 years in Houston – so out of the direct weather but still exposed to the Houston humidity as well as countless commutes in the frequent local rains. My 7 was recently repainted, but prior to that had zero surface rust, zero engine bay rust, zero rust underneath. Maybe this car was just left outdoors for years rather than in a barn somewhere with acidic rain? The speedometer face is unusual also – the 140 mph mark is missing, the Smiths name is missing, and they came with only 5 digits, not 6. Typically the seats were plaid, the door panels were plaid, and the steering wheel was different, at least for the US market.

  • John Joseph Ferrentino says:

    The Tr8 and Tr7 were the worst cars ever made . My 1976 TR6 was a mess from day one out of the dealer. FIRST THE CRANKSHAFT BROKE IN 2 . 4 MONTHS FOR A NEW ENGINE. THEN AFTER WARRENTY ABOUT $300 A MONTH IN REPAIRS.

  • David Tanner says:

    I traded my 70 Spitfire for “The Wedge”, terrible mistake. It sheared off the oil pump shaft, spent a month at Checker Flag, Va, beach, then had crank problems, went dark on I95, had to disconnect one headlight to make it home. It was correctly painted lemon yellow. Ended up selling it to some guy that worked with my wife. Never heard the end of that until we moved away.

  • Allen p Towne says:

    I had a tr8 coupe for a few years in the 80s It was a great car and fun to drive. Mine was a pre production model sent to the USA as a promotional model to use as a racer. It was used by the Bob Bonderon racing school before I got it. It had an assigned vin number as it had no official vin from Triumph. I loved the car and have regretted selling it. I swapped a Buick 215 distributor into it when original distributor was out for repair. I also swapped some Jag stromberg carb jet needles into it for much increased horsepower.

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