One of the most under-appreciated sports cars of all time is available in what could be a once-in-a-lifetime deal

In the annals of sports car lore, there are some models that, for one reason or another, don’t get the attention they deserve. The Triumph TR8 counts as one of them. It only had a three-year run (1978 to 1981), which contributes to the lack of awareness of the car, though Triumph’s fledgling state at that time also contributed to the TR8’s short-lived turn in the spotlight. All that said, the TR8 was still a sight to behold, and the fact that Triumph didn’t get a chance to build many units has increased its provenance. Well, there’s one TR8 that’s for sale on eBay Motors, and it only has 90 miles on it. Perhaps now’s the time to buy one?

90-Mile 1981 Triumph TR8 For Sale

Car for Sale: Practically New 1981 Triumph TR8
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I wasn’t born yet when the Triumph TR8 roamed the streets of this world, so I didn’t know much about it until a few years ago when I stumbled upon a man who actually owned one. I didn’t think much of the car at that time, but maybe I should have. The Triumph TR8 should’ve had a longer life. It deserved that much, or at least better than the fate it had. A three-year production for a sports car that looks as timeless as the TR8 is criminal. It was potent on the road, too, thanks largely to a 3.5-liter V-8 engine that was good for 150 horsepower’s worth of fun.

Put the TR8 in today’s world, and it should still be a wallop to drive on the road.

At the very least, you’re going to get a lot of long and curious looks from people wondering where you got your time capsule sports car.

Car for Sale: Practically New 1981 Triumph TR8
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Unfortunately, finding one these days is the problem. Sure, the TR8 was largely sold in the U.S. and Canada, so there should still be a good number of them scattered throughout North America. But how many are still in proper working condition or, worse, how many can actually still run far enough to make a run to the supermarket and return home in one piece?

There’s no actual data on how many TR8s are still around, but the common number being thrown around is 1,000 convertible units and 200 coupé versions.

Triumph also built just 415 units of the 1981MY, and that number is part of the 2,497 units of the TR8 that were built. Finding one these days, obviously, could prove to be difficult. It just so happens, though, that one model is currently up for sale.

Car for Sale: Practically New 1981 Triumph TR8
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This is a 1981 Triumph TR8, and it’s one of the 415 units of the 1981MY that Triumph built. It’s also in tremendous condition with less than 100 miles in its odometer. Yes, this particular TR8 has rarely — if ever — been driven on the road. Since it was bought, it has appeared in a handful of shows and, well, that’s about it. It’s been stored for most of its life, passing through from one collection to another beyond the sight and sensibilities of the world.

Now, it’s up for sale again, only this time, you can actually get your hands on it for just $44,000.

That’s the amount Streetside Classics is asking for the TR8. Is it worth that much, knowing that it already failed to meet its reservation price — the highest bid was $30,100 — when it was up for bidding on eBay Motors? I think it is, but I don’t have that kind of scratch to actually buy it.

Car for Sale: Practically New 1981 Triumph TR8
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But if you do have the funds, this is something that you need to consider buying. Most of the sports coupe comes in stock configuration. It still features that drop-dead gorgeous wedge-shaped profile. It still wears the same beige exterior and the tan-colored soft roof. The interior is also dressed in tan, and there’s something to be said for the boxy dashboard and the design cues that were prevalent in that era. It does have parts that show signs of its age, including some light fading on the soft top’s plastic windows. A few components have changed, too, specifically the battery and the ceramic-coated exhaust manifolds.

But it still comes with the same 3.5-liter V-8 engine that it had when it rolled out of production almost 40 years ago.

That engine produced 148 horsepower, and while it’s unclear how many of those horses have escaped since then, there should still be enough of them to power the two rear wheels through the coupe’s five-speed manual transmission. In its heyday, the TR8 could sprint from 0 to 60 mph in around eight seconds or so. It’s a decent number for sports cars of the ’80s, but not so much today.

Car for Sale: Practically New 1981 Triumph TR8
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Still, who cares? You’re not buying this because it can blitz a 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata. In all likelihood, the latter’s probably going to smoke it on the road or in any kind of physical surface there is. It’s not going to upstage the Miata in technology, too. Don’t even start there.

For the amount that Streetside Classics is asking, you can buy the range-topping MX-5 RF Grand Touring for around $35,000 and still have enough money to go on a weekend getaway to Las Vegas.

All that is fine, and quite frankly, very tempting. But what kind of satisfaction will that really get you other than owning a brand-new roadster and a weekend’s worth of debauchery that you’ll end up forgetting the next week? It’s a tempting scenario to splurge your money on, but it won’t be the same as owning a rare sports car that had a far shorter life on the road than it deserved.

Car for Sale: Practically New 1981 Triumph TR8
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The 1981 Triumph TR8 isn’t one of the most beloved sports cars in history. It probably doesn’t even make it in anybody’s top 10 list of most desirable sports cars of its own era. But is that really the car’s fault? Should we take it against the TR8 that it arrived in a time when the company that built it was in dire financial straits? No and no. The Triumph TR8 deserved better. Now, you have a chance to right that wrong in your own little way.

Given its rarity, there’s no telling when the next TR8 will pop up for sale.

Even if another model did go for sale, what assurance do you have that it’s going to be in as good of a condition as this one? The truth is we don’t have any assurances. We don’t know if there’s another TR8 that’s going to hit the classifieds soon. But there is one now, and even if the asking price is a bit hard to swallow, you are buying a true and sporty time capsule on four wheels.

Could you, in all honesty, say that you’ll get this chance again?

Further reading

1978 - 1981 Triumph TR8
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Triumph TR8

Read our full review on the 1978 - 1981 Triumph TR8.

Source: Streetsideclassics

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