Triumph TR7 Drop-head Coupe  1979
Photo section: The TR7 coupe

Once again an obvious anomaly: it's not a drophead coupe (DHC in the BritCar parlance) but a fixed-head coupe (FHC). It is red, where ours was white out and tan in, but it is pretty close to 1:43 scale. and it was cheap. Something like a dollar at a swapmeet, twenty years ago. I have found other TR7 1:43 models, a couple of them mostly white (manufacturers seem to prefer racecars with lots of numbers and sponsorship decals), but none a convertible.

As in the case of the MG TD and B models, K&R will make one to order. Their example is a brown color, if I recall. $125 or so. Uh huh. Just imagine "White" and "Convertible" when you look at this model. Not that I don't have good color pictures of our car.

Now there is a white 1:43 convertible in the cabinet. Photo: White TR7 convertible with an original Dinky coupe in the background. CLICK to see a larger version.
I got another of the red ones and took the top off the first, playworn one. Painted the exterior white and the bumpers black, and the interior tan. It too looks pretty good. It will be enhanced by a set of either Campagnolo or Alfa Romeo mag wheels I found. Or maybe wire wheels. Hm.

One Saturday evening in 1979 I read an ad for a cheap TR7. Sunday morning I interrupted the proprietor of the dealership associated with a Dodge (I think) outlet in the Midway area. He was doing his exercises but took time out to sell me the new car. He had half a dozen white ones and few others, and wanted to get rid of some. Good price. I was pleased with that aspect and

  1. Convertible top; I had been out of convertibles for quite a while, and felt the need.
  2. Five-speed gearbox; nothing like a bunch of cogs to select from.
  3. Smooth shape, reputed to have a drag factor near .30.
  4. The guy threw in an Autopower rollover bar, installed.
  5. Aire condicionado; I had already determined there were few or no TR7 convertibles without it in the USA. I had delusions of racing it, an idea I soon abandoned. Not because it was aire condicionado. More about that later. I really liked the AC after a few sittings-in-traffic-in-the-sun with the top up.
  6. It suited my (mid-life) taste at the moment.

I'm sure I will remember or invent others. Any road, within an hour I was happily motoring the six or so miles home on I8 East and 163 North. As I left the top of the off-ramp to my surface-street choice SMOKE CAME OUT OF THE DASH VENTS !  ELECTRICAL SMOKE !  My 6-mile-new car was going to burn down around me! I steered to the side of the road, turned off the ignition, and prepared to abandon ship. There was no more smoke. I looked under the bonnet but saw nothing out of the ordinary.

In a possibly foolish move, I sat in it and turned on the ignition. No more fire, no sparks. Turned it over, it started right up, still no more untoward phenomena. Drove it home and looked under the bonnet again, again saw no problems. Whew! Maybe it was just a new-car wrinkle I hadn't heard of.

I drove it to work for several days (five, to be exact). On Friday I offered to drive to the traditional luncheon. OK. After lunch it wouldn't start, dead battery symptoms. I took it to the service department of a nearby dealer. The man at the door checked it out, said the alternator wasn't charging the battery. Both components were good, but apparently not connected. He did a little back-tracing and found the responsible wire from the alternator was vaporized and welded to the side of the engine block. I guess it had grounded when I turned left, and that was what caused the smoke. The battery was good enough to last four days and a bit without charging, if you didn't drive it after dark. And I didn't.

As a matter of fact I used to say truthfully that for the first ten years of its life, the TR7 was never out of the garage after dark or in the rain. I always had something else to drive in those circumstances. Neat-o.


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