I follow Jay Leno’s philosophy of car restoration: “I like to restore a car to 98 or 100 points and then drive it down to 10 or 20.” This is what I’ve done with my TR7 coupe. After owning and restoring one of nearly every model of Triumph and racing a Spitfire in SCCA and vintage events, I wanted a reasonably civilized Triumph that could do interstate speeds and had great AC. It had to either have a hard top or be a coupe to reduce noise, vibration and harshness. I decided on a TR7 coupe and found this rust-free, 5-speed, factory AC, Inca Yellow example in Southern Texas.
I bought it from the original owner who had purchased it off the showroom floor and enjoyed it for 123,000 miles. But it was worn out and needed, well, everything. I undertook a 2-year complete restoration where I rebuilt or replaced nearly everything, including re-engineering some of the factory design defects. The only part of the restoration I didn’t do is the paint which was a glass out respray.
Power was improved with increased compression, a mild cam, 1-¾ inch S.U.s, NOS ANSA headers and an oil cooler. Handling was improved with bigger sway bars, stiffer springs, camber/castor plates and polyurethane bushings. Brakes include a racing proportioning valve and cross drilled rotors. The entire AC system was replaced with all 134a components and a small Japanese compressor. The interior was replaced and heat/sound deadening materials were added.
I’ve added 30,000 miles since I finished the TR7. Although I’ve done track days, club drives and car shows, my favorite event is a 500 mile rally named “Damn the Torpedoes Challenge” through the wilds of Georgia, and its sister challenge, “The Race of Fools.” By the time I get home from either event, I’ve usually racked up another 2,000 hard driving miles on the TR7. I drive the TR7 every chance I get, and enjoy a car that can cruise in AC comfort on the interstate and turn reasonable times on the track.