TRIUMPH TR7 -A BRIEF COLLECTORS GUIDE
By Phil Etgart ( First published mid to late 1990’s)
Long regarded as the ugly ducking of the TR series, in some peoples eyes not “A Real TR”, certainly not as collectable as it’s earlier cousins, the TR7, might just be coming of age judging by the number of beautifully restored examples that I have seen during recent summer. Admittedly the resto’s have been predominantly dropheads, but there’s little doubt that once those candidates for restoration have dried up collectors will move on to the more affordable Tin-Tops.
In some respects it’s a shame Homby didn’t produce a drophead. However in the light of increasing interest in the real thing, it seems like a good time to review what variations were produced, of what has often been viewed as a difficult to drive and unattractive model (sounds like the real thing, but then at least the engine on the Scalextric version doesn’t have an aluminium head to warp!!!).
Key things to look for when buying Scalextric TR 7′ s are fairly limited but consider the following points. The underpan locates into the body at the rear, via a lug each side which locates into the rear quarter of each side of the body, (replicating the vents on the real car). These lugs are difficult to get into position, due to tight fit, and consequently they often snap off. Occasionally body’s split in the seam between side panel and rear panel. The other weak points on the chassis in common with many cars of the era, are the motor mounts and the narrow sections just ahead of the guide mount. Whilst a few underpans were available in the early 1990’s when the ‘Toys R Us’ production run was in circulation, they are now difficult to find. The other common problem is the front bumper, disregarding snapped pins, resulting in glued on bumpers, the main problem in the wrong bumper being fitted to the car. Halfway through it’s life, the tooling for the TR7 was amended to produce a car with it ‘Headlamps Up’ (replicating a real TR7 with it’s headlights on). At this point the tooling for the bumper was also amended. ‘Lamps Down’ cars should have a bumper with four spot lamps (two below & two above). Whilst ‘Lamps Up’ cars should be fitted with six spot lamps on the bumper (two below & four above). This is further confused because when producing the final version of the TR7 (the Toys-R-Us limited edition) Horny discontinued the practice of chroming the lamp ‘Lenses’ on the bumpers. All cars with the exception of the Toys-R-Us cars should therefore have bumpers with chromed headlamp ‘Lenses’ be they four or six spotlights.
I must admit I didn’t think there was so much to say about TR7’s, and we haven’t even got to the cars yet!
The TR7 first appeared in the Scalextric range in 1978 illustrated in catalogue 19. Its debut was as …… .
Cl30 White or Red
This was one of the last models produced where different colours shared this same C numbers and so in some respects was at the end of an era (immediately prior to the demise of Rovex). The car itself was in a fairly typical livery of the period with bold graphics on the side panels and a bold stripe across the bonnet. The Blue & Red ‘Burmah’ livery on the White car replicated a TR7 being campaigned at the time by Tony Pond. The two colours of this model were shown in catalogue 19 & 20, and in 1980 were combined in set C632/3 with the imaginative name ‘Set 300’. At the point they became set cars and ceased to be shown in the catalogue as separate boxed items.
They were replaced by …..
C113 Red, Cl14 Yellow
These cars appeared as separate boxed items in 1980 and remained in catalogue for two years (catalogue 21/22). Their graphics were similar to their predecessors, this time having fully tampo’d side panels and a herringbone type designed tampo’d on the bonnet. Of the first four TR 7′ s the Yellow is probably the most appealing to the eye. As with the previous pair of TR 7’s these models made the transition from boxed cars to set cars in 1981, and were shown in catalogues 22 & 23 in set C656/7 ‘Rallycross’. With the deletion of the separate boxed items in 1982, a new boxed TR7 livery was introduced ….
This model was the first of the TR 7’s to remain available only as a separate boxed item, which probably explains it now being a little harder to obtain than the first four TR7’s which are readily available. It was also around this time that the familiar ‘Black Box’ packaging was introduced. (when buying a boxed C294 be aware it should have an expanded polystyrene inner not a card tray). The car itself was a Bright Blue colour with a broad White stripe up over the rear roof pillars & across the roof (similar to the Starsky & Hutch Red Ford Torino). Being pleasing to the eye however did not guarantee longevity and after one year in the catalogue it was replaced by …..
This is by far the rarest of TR7’s. The car itself was based on a yellow shell (slightly lighter than C114) with black & red stripe running diagonally from rear N/S to front O/S corners of the car. The car exists in two variations, having been produced in both ‘Lamps Down’ and ‘Lamps Up’ versions.
The first version ‘Lamps Down’ is by far the rarest, and whilst one or two have been put into boxes from ‘Lamps Up’ versions, a genuine ‘Lamp Down’ boxed car is yet to be found (to my knowledge). These cars normally tum up in the area surrounding the factory, which suggests that the ‘Lamps Down’ version was probably never in general distribution.
(whilst we agree with Phil these remain rare, we have had genuine boxed items)
With modification to ‘Lamps Up’ the C309 appeared (with six spot lamp bumper!) as a boxed item. It only appeared in one catalogue (No. 24 1983), and from its rarity, it can be assumed it was a fairly short run; These cars do not surface for sale very often. Around the time of this models production another pair ofTR7’s must have also been in early stages of production as they also changed from ‘Lamps Down’ to ‘Lamps Up’ very early in their existence …… .
C321 ‘Spiderman’ Yellow & C322 ‘Spiderman’ Red
Although not appearing in catalogue until 1984 (No. 25) it is likely these were produced at the same time as C309 (shown in catalogue 24, 1983), as there is no other logical reason for both versions to exist. The cars were shown as available in set C672 ‘Spiderman’ which was unique in that the set contained White plexytrack. It is conceivable that the first version of this set (containing ‘Lamps Down’ cars) were a rush batch for a mail order customer ( as happened in a much smaller scale with set C742 LeMans 24Hr – where the first handful of sets were rushed out with cars with stickers instead of tampo printing to meet customer deadlines). The ‘Lamps Down’ version featured a half figure of Spiderman punching the air. For some reason the ‘Lamps Up’ version had a new tampo design of the bonnet featuring Spiderman crouching. It is not clear why the bonnet logo changed as it would have been relatively easy to remove a small piece of spiders web on the original tampo design. Prototypes of the Spiderman cars have been seen in both Blue & White (the white car is actually illustrated in a 1984 sales leaflet), but these are plain shells with hand painted liveries (not tampo’d bodies). The set appeared for only one year and presumably did not sell well, as Hornby were selling off the remaining stock of White track for a number of years. Both colours of the ‘Lamps Up’ version subsequently appeared as separate boxed items ( although never appearing as such in a catalogue). The ‘Spiderman’ cars were the last of the TR7’s to appear until in 1991 we got an unexpected Christmas present ….. .
C281 Red & C282 Black During autumn 1991 it emerged that Toys-R-Us had commissioned an exclusive pair of limited edition cars. Triumph TR7 in Red or Black with complete appropriate ‘Laurel’ design in Gold on the bonnet. They were produced in a batch of 500 of each colour only, and quickly sold out. These cars are already relatively difficult to find mint boxed, as a reasonable number of them were sold as toys (GOD FORBID!) before NSCC members became aware of there existence. In common with later versions of C309/321/322 they were ‘Lamps Up’ with the six spotlight bumper but this time the lamp lenses were not chromed.
This pretty much covers the TR 7 story except to mention a few oddities. Plain untampo’d bodies have been seen in Black, Red and both shades of Yellow. Chromed examples are in circulation which are alleged to have been produced at some point for either a TR7 owners club or members of the TR7 register (the Triumph TR7 owners club). This is however unsubstantiated.
So far from being an ‘Ugly Duckling’ the TR7 includes a number of interesting versions for the collector, not least of which C309 Yellow ‘Lamps Down’ one of the rarest cars produced in any era of Scalextric’ s rich history!
which are you missing then?