The TR7, which finally went out of production over five years ago, was originally designed to accommodate the 3500cc Rover engine so that the car could be sold on the US market as a TR8 

We in Britain were left with the car in its limp-wristed 2 litre form and very few TR8's were ever sold in the UK; the only glimpses of a TR8 that most people in Britain ever had was when they made a brief appearance an the international rally circuit. But that does not mean that the gutsy TR8 is beyond the reach of us Brits. 

The TR7's 1998cc engine was a combination of the Dolomite sprint's iron block and the Dolomite 1850's eight valve alloy head. Not only was this a problematic unit, it did not provide much in the way of  'Poke'. 

This unit can be tuned to a certain degree but for little money, the lusty Rover V8 can be accommodated easily beneath the bonnet with only a few simple modifications. And that not only brings quicker performance, but it also brings the smooth low down torque characteristic of this classic engine.

Even by slotting in a standard second-hand V8 SDI engine into the TR7 you can transform the car, giving 130mph performance and sub-eight second 0 to 60 times. But surprisingly, there are masses of tuning and handling parts available to further improve V8-equipped TR7's. 

You can also take advantage of all the development work that has been carried out on the engine on other cars too. The capacity can be increased to 3,9, 4,2 or even 5.1 litres...imagine a  5100cc TR7! 

Why the TR7? 

The TR7 may not seem like the ideal candidate for a tuning project. Far most of its life, the car has attracted tags such as "hairdresser's car" or "wimp mobile"- you know the sort of comment, along the lines of  the abuse that is often hurled at the Spitfire. 

And also in a few years time, the TR7 should be just about becoming recognized as a classic. 

The beauty of the car at the moment is that fixed head versions can be picked up for as little as £500, even less if you are prepared to put up with a rotted example. 

Then there's the convertible. A beautiful car. The last in a line of affordable British convertibles, which can now be bought for as little as £1500. 

The conversion 

So what do you need for the conversion and what will it cost you? 

Well to Pick up a few tips and to look at the work involved, we visited S & S Preparations, of Ramsbottom in Lancashire, who carry out all kinds of conversions on TR7's from simply slotting in a second hand V8 right up to £6,000 worth of mods to create a real road racer. 

"Creating TR8's is taking of in a big way and is becoming big business for us. Some of our customers have picked up a TR7 for as little as £500. An extra outlay of a few hundred quid will give them a good-looking GTi beater...and it's British," says Steve Wilcox, one half of the S & S duo. 

"A TR8 is much more distinctive than a boring hot hatch, far more modern than the old Escort Mk l's and at the moment it's a pretty rare beast too - no wonder it's becoming such a popular road racer,"  he added. 

What is beautiful about the conversion is that the modifications required are minimal. The 5 speed gearbox on the TR7 is the Rover SDI 'box anyway, the only change needed is to swop the TR7 gearbox's bellhousing to one which accommodates the new engine. The rear axle on the standard car is fully capable of taking the increased power output too. 

There is adequate space beneath the bonnet for the engine, again because the car was designed to take the lump anyway. There are slight clearance problems with the bonnet line when SU carburettors are used but this can be solved by fitting a modified cross member. S & S have their own made up for this job. 

Another way round this clearance problem is to fit the Holley four barrel carburettor and corresponding K & N air filter which will give you a 20 bhp power increase - The under bonnet photograph of the red TR8 shows this impressive chrome filter. A new radiator and electric cooling fan is also required because of clearance problems lengthways. The electric fan is mounted in front of the radiator and blows air through. 

Handling and Suspension 

If  you are looking for a soft ride, then the TR7's standard suspension will be fine, but the car does tend to wallow a little when pushed on corners 

The ideal sports set-up, although you do lose something in terms of comfort, would be to up rate the inserts and fit either 25 per cent uprated or 200lb rated springs in the MacPherson struts. At the rear, again either 25 per cent uprated or 200lb rated coil springs would improve matters greatly, along with spax gas adjustable shock absorbers. 

Although we said the standard axle is capable of handling the power, you can make simple axle ratio swaps to up the car's top speed. The standard TR7 ratio is 3.9:1 and is geared for a  115 mph top speed, a 3.45:1 axle ratio from the Rover 2.6 will give a 130mph top speed, while the 3.08:1 axle from the 3.5 Rover will give a 140 mph top speed. 

If  you are determined to recreate the TR8 as best you can, it's worth noting that the TR8 stick-on decals and the genuine TR8 steering wheels are still available through the Rover Group. Now and again, the more attractive American spec. bumpers come available through the same source too. 

The muscle car looks of the cars shown are provided by a set of of attractive Revolution five spoke  alloy wheels shod with 205/60 * 14 tyres, a front apron and a very attractive rear boot spoiler. This spoiler has been "stolen" from another Austin Rover model and it fits perfectly. It's a guarded secret at you have any ideas from where it came? 


On the TR8, you can choose between two types of exhaust system. 

One is a twin pipe system along the full length of the car. The other is a single pipe system. This involves joining the two sets of pipes half way down the length of the car. 

We tried a car with a THREE INCH bore single pipe system and the noise was unbelievable!