I’m a Masters student at Oxford University (MPhil Economic and Social History), preparing a dissertation on the history of the TR7, and I’d love to hear the opinions of actual owners and fans on the car, and help make your views central to the study.
I think the TR7 is a great topic for academic study for a few good reasons. It’s a “controversial” product in a lot of ways, one that the media seems to keep changing its mind about, and some of the issues that affected the production run can seem to sum up the entire British Leyland story to an outsider. I’m also attracted by the size and enthusiasm of the fan base, which I think can be an amazing source of expertise that historians haven’t made anywhere near enough use of.
I’m keen to write something a bit different to the usual here – a more subjective analysis that discusses the way the car has made people feel, rather than just a run-through of production figures and well-worn stock histories of BL. The official BL archives are almost useless in learning about the history of individual models – they deliberately omitted any in-house discussion of their own products from the record. I’ve therefore come to see the owners’ community as the effective archivists when it comes to the history of this car, at least in terms of what really ought to be known about it.
Here are some simple initial questions I’m particularly interested in addressing as central features of the work (bear in mind that I’ve put some of them to motoring journalists with a track record of being more hostile to the car, so I’d really like to hear a response from the fan and owner community):
• Was the primary failing of the TR7 to do with practical shortcomings (build quality, reliability, workforce issues etc), or that some people didn’t see it as an appealing car to look at or drive? Can those two issues be separated?
• In retrospect, what would have been the perfect car for British Leyland in the small, affordable sports car market of the late 70s and early 80s, to give them the best chance of market success?
• If the TR7’s build quality had been better, could it have been remembered as an unquestioned success with the same styling and drivetrain?
• Is there anything about the TR7 story that you feel is particularly notable or unusual, even by BL standards?
• How, in your view, does the TR7 tend to be remembered in the 21st century? Have other BL products aged better or worse on the whole?
Let me know about any personal views you might have on these issues, and I’ll keep in touch here – alternatively, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org..
Please feel free to ask me about anything you’d like explained in more detail!