The Triumph TR8 was an eight-cylinder version of the "wedge-shaped" Triumph TR7 sports car, manufactured by BL Ltd., British Leyland, and then Jaguar/Rover/Triumph . The majority of TR8s were sold in the United States and very few genuine TR8s exist in other countries. The TR8 was often dubbed as an "English Corvette".
TR8 was similar to the design of the TR7 with the big difference being the power-plant that powered the vehicle. The TR7 was powered by a four-cylinder engine that produced around 100 horsepower while the TR8 was given an eight-cylinder unit. Instead of using the company’s single overhead cam V8 which could be found in the Stag, it used a Rover V8. The Triumph V8 was plagued with reliability issues so the Rover unit served as a suitable replacement. Most used twin Zenith-Stromberg carburetors but in 1980 the vehicles earmarked for California were given a Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system.
The TR7 and TR8 were very similar in design. In comparison, the TR8 had upgraded brakes and a revised axle ratio. Alloy wheels and leather steering wheels were a few of the more obvious differences. The battery had been moved to the trunk in the TR8.
All TR7/TR8 cars were made until October 1981 when production ceased. TR8s were initially fitted with twin Zenith-Stromberg carburetors, but 1980 models sold in California and all 1981 models (of which only several hundred were produced) featured a Bosch L-jetronic fuel injection system with a specially designed Lucas ECU.
The TR8 did not use Triumph’s own single overhead cam V8 as found in the Stag due to an unreliable service record but instead shared its Rover V8 engine with the top Rover SD1. The engine itself was derived from an early 1960s Buick/Oldsmobile all-aluminum 215 cu. inch V8 unit Rover acquired from General Motors. The carbureted model was rated at 130hp and the fuel injected at 137.
Other differences between the TR8 and TR7 are upgraded brakes, revised axle ratio (3.08:1 on the TR8), battery moved to the trunk, alloy wheels, leather steering wheel and a few minor trim changes.
Despite their low production numbers, TR8s have an interesting racing history. John Buffum successfully campaigned one as a rally car in the late 1970s. Bob Tullius of Group 44 fame dominated SCCA racing in 1979 in one, so much so that the SCCA added enough "reward" weight to the car that Tullius packed up and went and ran IMSA (successfully). TR8s ran successfully in the SCCA’s Showroom stock series being campaigned by Morey Doyle (Regionals) and Ted Schumacher (Nationals). Schumacher had great success in the Playboy/Escort Endurance series with his car. Starting the last race of the year, Schumacher was 4th in the overall point standings (just 3 points away from 1st) when an accident ruined their chances; nevertheless, Schumacher still ended up 7th in the manufacturer’s points for that year, all with no official factory help.
The cost of a TR8 in the United States was around $11,000 with production never reaching any significant numbers. The TR8 did rather well in sporting competitions where it could often be seen in SCCA and rally events. Morey Doyle and Ted Schumacher ran in the SCCA’s Showroom stock series where they had mild success. Schumacher was close to third overall but an accident prematurely side-lined his efforts and resulted in a seventh place finish. In modern times, the TR8 vehicles can still be seen racing around the track.