Starting with a TR7 in reasonably good condition (that is the rust has been fixed!), here is how I would recommend you upgrade your vehicle.
Body work: Fit a front spoiler. Paint it matt black along with the sills and rear lower quarter – it gives the car a lower, sleeker look.
Chassis: Carry out Rimmer 4-pot caliper/ventilated disc upgrade. This will require 15 inch wheels. Don’t fit 17 inch wheels and low profile tyres, it looks wrong on a 70s/80s vehicle, will spoil the ride and not improve the handling. Use an old-school design for the wheels and nothing too flashy, please! Also replace the shocks and bushes. Replace the sealed beam headlights with a halogen conversion.
Engine: Stick a V8 in it (it’s what Triumph would have wanted and all the bits needed are available). Eliminate the water pump and fit a Davies-Craig electric pump. Upgrade the radiator and electric fan. Fit a geared starter motor. (There are more engine options, obviously. See a few more possibilities later, below.)
Interior: Here’s where individual taste takes over. The least I would do is change the seats. Keep the upholstery black. I would remove carpet on the floor it (it’s bound to get soaked eventually) and replace it with really heavy commercial grade rubber matting cut to fit tightly (not Halfords thin stuff). Also, put some in the boot. The dead weight really damps down road noise (and if you want to test your 0-60 times you can take it out along with the passenger seat, spare wheel etc!)
When people want to upgrade a car, often the first thing they think about is the engine. (Although, often, small improvements in the chassis or the interior creature comforts can be more worthwhile in upgrading the driving experience. Be that as it may, here are a few more engine thoughts.
The Dolomite Sprint engine fits the DNA – add twin Webers or, even better, fuel injection,. The Sprint engine, however, I would imagine, is quite hard to find nowadays. Another Rover engine might be the T-Series 2 litre turbo, preferably from a Rover 800 Vitesse sport which has 200 hp and good mpg. (I had an engine prepared for this conversion in the past but I stuck with the most obvious candidate, which is the Rover V8 as mentioned above!). There are lots of them about still and the bits to do it are all available. Fit fuel injection or a Holley – twin SU carbs just don’t look the part. The Rover V8 has a poor head design and the only way to get high power is to change the heads (are they still available?), increase the capacity or use forced induction (assuming you don’t mind the fuel consumption and the pollution!) However, 170 – 200 hp is plenty for a car like this (unless you want to go racing in which case the engine will be the least of your problems!)
The engine bay is big, you could, of course, fit almost any engine with anything from a reasonable to a considerable amount of work. (Don’t fit the “K” series for obvious reasons!) A Zetec would be good, but the DNA is surely not right! Below: This is the 3.5 litre Rover V8 from an SD1 Vitesse fitted into my TR7. It’s in there somewhere inder the air cleaner! See also: TR7 V8 Projects on this site. For more details, you could also visit my old site at www.mr-r.co.uk.