Jump to content
BizMan

TR7 Modifications and upgrades

Recommended Posts

I have been an admirer of the humble TR7 since I was a small lad, seduced as I was by its styling way back in the late 1970's. I owned my first TR7 in 1987 but was disappointed that the performance never really lived up to its looks; the brakes were terrible, the 8v engine unremarkable, the handling quite domestic and the wonderful core aesthetic was let down by poor build quality and compromised styling.

 

My first adventurous step into TR7 ownership ended after less than a year when my 8v FHC was despatched to the scrap yard, the victim of failing bodywork, terminal transmission and a seized engine. The attached photo is my first TR7 - VFR 202R just after the engine let go...

 

My TR7 seduction could have ended there, however my interest was kept alive through a voyeuristic interest in various Triumphs rising phoenix-like from the workshops of a local specialist; Southern Triumph Services. Eventually, I made a promise to myself that when lifestyle and budget permitted, I would own a TR7 that lived up to my schoolboy dreams.

 

In 2006 the realisation of that dream began when I purchased an immaculate single owner 1980 TR7 DHC. Its custodian from new had used the car on high days and holidays adding a respectable 35,000 miles but what sold it for me was the accompanying document wallet that was stuffed full of receipts detailing every service, repair and upgrade that he had lavished on the car since new; when totalled the amount spent he had spent between the years 1980 and 2006 was upwards of £16,000.

 

The car had received four subtle conversions from standard before I bought it. During his 26 year ownership, the first owner installed a brand new 3500cc 9.35:1 V8 and a 3.08:1 diff and in the early 1990's added a Holley 4 barrel carburettor along with a TR8 front brake upgrade. If I am honest, on the test drive the car performed unremarkably despite the V8 breathing through a Holley!

 

Five years and 50,000 miles later I thought it might make a useful contribution to the TR Register if I were to share my experiences of upgrading and modifying my TR7. I don’t expect this to be the definitive reference nor do I consider myself to be an authority on any subject I may cover; all I offer the readership is an honest appraisal of not only what I have had done but also to outline why I did it as well as to give some candid opinions on whether it was worth it!

 

 

05-01-2008 19;40;36.jpg

Edited by BizMan
Update

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Reviews are to be formatted thus:

 

Overview of improvement: - What was changed on the car

Relative merits: - What was the intended improvement (or otherwise) to the car

Observations: - What were the consequences of the upgrade

Summary: - Did it have the desired effect?

Summary scoring - To assist in a quick evaluation of each upgrade/modification I will rate it on a scale of 1 to 4 against each of these categories with 1 being low and 4 high:

 

1.Safety/security

2.Reliability

3.Performance

4.Comfort/aesthetics

5.Cost (1=<£250, 2=<£500, 3=<£1000, 4>£1000)

 

Remember: these are my personal opinions!

 

NOTE: PRICES CORRECT IN 2012.

Edited by BizMan
Update

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

May I suggest that a word with Steve Redway would be in order . . . .

 

I'd reckon he would be delighted to feature an account of your experiences in TR Action ! :D

 

Cheers,

 

Alec

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - Rover SD1 brake servo & master cylinder

 

Relative merits: - A 30% improvement over the standard set up which provides greater braking effect for less effort.

 

Observations: - At the time I was using TR8 front discs and calipers and the bigger servo/cylinder meant that the brake fade of this set up was quickly exposed.

 

Summary: - Much better braking effect but the upgrade was compromised by the limitations of the brakes themselves

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                 3

Reliability:                           1

Performance:                     1

Comfort/aesthetics:         N/A

Cost:                                    2

Edited by BizMan
Update

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - S&S front vented disc kit using greenstuff pads

 

Relative merits: - Significantly reduced brake fade over a TR8 set up and increased stopping power at urban speeds

 

Observations: - Whilst an improvement, it still took far too long to bring the car to a halt from motorway speeds, particularly relative to all of the other vehicles I was sharing the roads with! Repeated use on motorways meant that brake fade was still and issue. This modification required an upgrade to 14 inch wheels to accommodate the discs and calipers, (the wheel/ tyre upgrade will be covered later).

 

Summary: - Better than standard but don’t increase the power of the car beyond a standard V8, you may not live to regret it.

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                3

Reliability:                          2

Performance:                    2

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                   2

Edited by BizMan
Update

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - S&S Rear disc conversion

 

Relative merits: - The upgrade utilises a modified TR7 rear end with MGF calipers and rotors and in theory the system should improve braking capacity at the rear.

 

Observations: - No noticeable difference in the braking performance of the car as the front brakes were still not up to the job.

 

Summary: - Easier servicing of the rear brakes, a better handbrake and slightly lower unsprung weight were not enough to justify this upgrade on its own. Combine it with the uprated front set up described in post #40 and then you begin to see it making sense.

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                  1

Reliability:                           1

Performance:                     N/A

Comfort/aesthetics:         N/A

Cost:                                     4

Edited by BizMan
Update

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - Fitment of 14 x 6 Compomotive wheels and 195x60 tyres

 

Relative merits: - Enabled the fitment of larger front discs and calipers, increased tyre footprint on the road

 

Observations: - No noticeable difference in road holding, handling and braking in dry conditions but noticeable improvement when roads were damp. No noticeable improvement in fully wet conditions, the back end still broke away and the front wheels still locked.

 

Summary: - A necessary improvement to achieve improved braking performance.

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                3

Reliability:                          N/A

Performance:                    1

Comfort/aesthetics:        1

Cost:                                    2

 

NOTE: Compomotive wheels fitted

IMG_1774.JPG

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - Uprated front anti roll bar

 

Relative merits: - Reduced front end body roll

 

Observations: - A really noticeable difference in cornering ability with the front end being far more stable. However, with a fully loaded car, rear end body roll was now more apparent than before, (it being masked previously by the pitching of the front end).

 

Summary: - Well worth the upgrade

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                2

Reliability:                          N/A

Performance:                    3

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                    1

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Wayne S

Hold it there!!! You should send this in to the magazine!!! Write up up with some piccies and it will be ace! Email: magazine@tr-register.co.uk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - Rear anti roll bar

 

Relative merits: - Reduced rear end body roll

 

Observations: - Nowhere near as noticeable an improvement as the front anti roll bar but really improves the cornering at speed when carrying a passenger and luggage. Car is a little more inclined to snap away when in the wet.

 

Summary: - Considering the cost, it’s worth the upgrade

 

Summary scoring

 

Safety/security:                1

Reliability:                          N/A

Performance:                    1

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                    1

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - 200lb springs and adjustable SPAX dampers

 

Relative merits: - Improved traction, less bodyroll (thus higher cornering speeds) and reduced pitching under braking

 

Observations: - Instant improvement all round and was probably the cheapest upgrade relative to the performance benefit obtained. The ride was hardened but not to the point where long cruises became unpleasant.

 

Summary: - Best bang for your buck but get it set up correctly!

 

Summary scoring

 

Safety/security:                3

Reliability:                          N/A

Performance:                    4

Comfort/aesthetics:        1

Cost:                                    2

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - Anti dive kit

 

Relative merits: - Reduced pitching under braking

 

Observations: - Improvement was reasonable when under light braking but only marginal when under heavy braking. I was disappointed with this improvement as it didn't really give the performance improvement in the one area where it is really needed.

 

Summary: - Low cost, marginal improvement

 

Summary scoring

 

Safety/security:                1

Reliability:                          N/A

Performance:                    1

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                    1

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - Polyurethane bushes (medium hardness)

 

Relative merits: - Reduced movement in the suspension geometry

 

Observations: - In normal cruising I didn’t notice a great deal of difference but when I was travelling at speed on country roads they certainly improved the handling of the car.

 

Summary: - Less shaking and shimmying and more predictive cornering performance on uneven road surfaces

 

Summary scoring

 

Safety/security:                2

Reliability:                          N/A

Performance:                    2

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                    1

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - 4 into 2 into 1 stainless steel exhaust manifolds (V8)

 

Relative merits: - Increased exhaust gas flow and engine power

 

Observations: - On its own, the exhaust manifolds made only a minor improvement in performance and then only noticeable at high engine speeds. However, with the planned upgrade to stage 3 heads and the eventual upgrade to a larger capacity engine it was an improvement that would be needed at some point

 

Summary: - Cost was high relative to performance improvement. Unless you are increasing the capacity of the engine or improving the gas flow of the heads then spend your money elsewhere.

 

Summary scoring

 

Safety/security:                N/A

Reliability:                          N/A

Performance:                    1

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                    2

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - Twin pipe stainless steel exhaust. Single silencer per pipeset

 

Relative merits: - Worry free operation and a glorious engine tone

 

Observations: - Simple components to fit but make sure you get their positioning right. Too close to the body and your cabin will smell of burning underseal; too far from the body and your exhaust will be intimate with every speed bump you encounter.

 

Summary: - Fit right and forget them.

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                N/A

Reliability:                          3

Performance:                    1

Comfort/aesthetics:        1

Cost:                                    3

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - Strut tower brace

 

Relative merits: - Reduced understeer

 

Observations: - There were two low cost upgrades that I researched that could reduce the understeer caused by flexing forward of the firewall. The first involved a strutbrace that fixed across the towers and then triangulated against the firewall but this system limits what type of fuel induction system you can run and also eliminates the possibility of using the fresh air plenum. The second less effective system is a brace that just connects the two strut towers, (this is the option I chose). I was really sceptical of this upgrade as it had ‘boy racer’ written all over it but the reduction in understeer and corresponding improvement in cornering was quite exceptional.

 

Summary: - Put away your prejudice and fit a brace

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                2

Reliability:                          N/A

Performance:                    3

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                    1

 

NOTE: Image shows the strut brace (photo taken after the LPG and EFI upgrades were complete) 

IMG_5016.jpg

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - S&S Strut top bearings

 

Relative merits: - Lighter steering at lower speeds

 

Observations: - After being away from Classic motoring for the best part of 20 years, the weight of the steering came as the biggest surprise! I was advised that the cheapest and easiest upgrade was to fit S&S strut top bearings and whilst they gave marginal improvement, low speed steering was still a chore. An unforeseen consequence of fitting the bearings was that the front ride height was raised slightly giving the car an odd 'nose up' stance.

 

Summary: - A step in the right direction but not a long term solution

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                N/A

Reliability:                          N/A

Performance:                    N/A

Comfort/aesthetics:        1

Cost:                                    1

 

IMAGE: Nose up stance after fitment of strut top bearings

IMG_5234 2.jpg

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - S&S Electric Power Steering

 

Relative merits: - Modern progressive powered steering

 

Observations: - Low speed urban driving was not much fun on account of the weight of the steering. A traditional power steering rack from a TR8 seemed a retrograde step so without ‘test driving’ the system first (there was no test vehicle available) I bought the powered system from S&S which I believe is a reworked Fiat unit. The upgrade fitted neatly and has worked very well for the past six years and it's still going strong (best avoid placing the system under full lock as this does occasionally overload the electrics).

 

Summary: - The system provides wonderfully light steering at low speeds and good feedback at higher speeds. However, at every MOT the tester has commented that the 'Steering system has slight free play detected at steering wheel' - though it has never been a cause of failure. 

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                1

Reliability:                          2

Performance:                    2

Comfort/aesthetics:        4

Cost:                                    4

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - Quaife Limited Slip Differential

 

Relative merits: - Improved traction

 

Observations: - This upgrade made a considerable change to the performance of the car. Both high and low speed cornering was improved in the dry but the improvement was most noticeable in damp and wet conditions. The TR7 has always been very willing to step its rear end outward when provoked in wet conditions and whilst the LSD doesn’t eliminate this, it really reduced the tendency of the car to veer off when adhesion was temporarily lost.

 

Summary: - If you want to drive a TR7 safely in all conditions then this should be on your shopping list.

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                4

Reliability:                          1

Performance:                    2

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                    4

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - Fast road camshaft

 

Relative merits: - Increased BHP and torque

 

Observations: - The V8 that came with the car was in standard tune just as Rover had intended back in 1986. Fitting a fast road cam made an instant change in power, performance and driveability, particularly at the top end of the rev range where the stock cam would have just given up. The power curve is shifted upwards by approximately 800rpm and the manufacturer claims an increase in power in the region of 20bhp at the peak of the curve as well as a more even delivery of torque across the entire rev range.

 

Summary: - My fuel bill increased, not because the upgrade significantly changed the fuel efficiency of the engine but because exploiting the upper limits of the revs became so much more rewarding!

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                N/A

Reliability:                          N/A

Performance:                    4

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                    2

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - Stage 3 cylinder heads

 

Relative merits: - Increased BHP and torque

 

Observations: - The modified heads when combined with the fast road cam transformed the performance of the pedestrian V8. The engine just pulled all the way from idle through to the red line and moderating power to maintain traction in wet conditions is quite a challenge (even with the limited slip diff). Whilst this was a fabulous modification, there were some unforeseen and expensive consequences of this particular upgrade which I tried to ignore for a while but eventually had to address, (more of this later).

 

Summary: - However you drive with stage 3 heads, your fuel bill will increase! It may be a cheaper option to drop in a larger capacity engine rather than upgrade components on a stock 3.5 but I personally prefer the responsiveness of a tuned engine over that of the lazy response of a big capacity stock unit. You pay your money and take your choice!

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                N/A

Reliability:                          N/A

Performance:                    4

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                    4

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - 95A lightweight alternator

 

Relative merits: - Increased electrical generation to match the power demand of the car

 

Observations: - The increased electrical demands of the modifications made to date were taking their toll. The standard V8 alternator was now unable to generate enough current to operate the power steering, lights, heater and the windscreen wipers all at the same time which was a serious safety hazard on winter driving days. The ‘patch’ was to regularly place the battery on charge overnight to ensure that the car would start the following day but an upgrade was the only sensible long term solution. Fitting an upgraded alternator was straightforward but I did call upon the services of an auto electrician to ensure that the discharge cabling was not only capable of transferring the increased 95A current but that its routing and installation would not end up setting the car on fire!

 

Summary: - A simple upgrade that I should have made before I upgraded too many components on the car.

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                3

Reliability:                          4

Performance:                    N/A

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                    2

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - Hi torque lightweight starter motor

 

Relative merits: - Less amperage required to turn over the engine

 

Observations: - Despite the increase in charging capacity provided by the 95A alternator, I was still finding that the battery would easily drain after short runs so I took the next logical (economic) step and changed the starter motor to a unit that placed less demand on the battery. The upgraded unit was far more capable of spinning the engine but there were still days where I would be confronted with a flat battery.

 

Summary: - Another simple upgrade which certainly improved the reliability of the car. Was it the right upgrade considering the ongoing battery discharge issues...?

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                N/A

Reliability:                          3

Performance:                    N/A

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                    1

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - Battery upgrade (12V 72A 660 CCA) and relocation to the boot

 

Relative merits: - Capability of turning over and starting a higher compression V8 engine

 

Observations: - I didn’t quite appreciate just how much the fitting of larger valve heads would increase the compression ratio within the combustion chambers! Whilst this gave great performance once the car was running, an unintended consequence was that the battery did not have the cold cranking capacity to overcome the increased compression of the engine. Despite all of the previous modifications, the battery would still drain after a few short trips (particularly in cold weather) so I made a well intentioned purchase of the biggest CCA battery that would fit into the under bonnet battery housing (with a little fettling) but even this gave up eventually. So inevitably I had to bite the bullet and relocate the battery to the boot which enabled me to fit a battery that was suitable for the job.

 

Summary: - Loosing boot space and spending unbudgeted money on starter motors and battery upgrades were just two of the unintended consequence of increasing the performance of the V8.

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                N/A

Reliability:                          4

Performance:                    N/A

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                    2

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a

Overview of improvement: - FSE performance fuel pump

 

Relative merits: - Fuel delivery at high engine speeds

 

Observations: - Once again, the big valve heads were causing problems. At high revs, the engine was drawing in huge quantities of fuel which the stock fuel pump could not keep up with. To begin with, this resulted in uneven power delivery at 3000 rpm and above as the pump was not keeping pace but it was not long before the pump gave up completely.

 

Summary: - A simple fix

 

Summary scoring

Safety/security:                N/A

Reliability:                          1

Performance:                    1

Comfort/aesthetics:        N/A

Cost:                                    1

Edited by BizMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Please familiarise yourself with our Terms and Conditions. By using this site, you agree to the following: Terms of Use.