Which were the best of the 1962-1976 Triumph TR sports cars? The Triumph TR7s of the Seventies, the "side-screen" TRs of the Fifties, or the lineup of Michelotti TRs that poured out of the Coventry factory between 1961 and 1976? Would you, in other words, like a unit-body coupe, a traditionally styled car with a cramped cockpit, or a more spacious and more graceful Triumph from Great Britain's "Golden Period"?
While the earliest Triumph TR6s wore mag-style wheel covers,
this 1973 Triumph TR6 had wheel trim rings and open centers.
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But wait, hang on a minute. What happened to Triumph? In particular, whatever happened to the TR sports car? Young and successful in the Fifties, mature and fast-selling in the Sixties, the TR gradually faded away in the Seventies. There hasn't been a TR since 1981, and there hasn't been a separate-chassis TR since 1976 -- so who was to blame?
It's easy enough to blame U.S. lawmakers on Capitol Hill, but the real answer is easier to spot, if you look out the office window today. Count the sports cars and coupes streaming down the freeway, and you'll note that they're nearly all Japanese. In the Sixties, and even into the Seventies, most were British: Triumphs, MGs, and Austin-Healeys.
Despite the 1800/2000 Roadsters of 1946-1949, only a very few of which made it to the U.S., most Americans knew nothing about Triumph until 1953. That's when the first TR2 sports cars arrived, and sales of the TR soon built up strongly. Before long, the best way to start a fight at a sports car meet was to tell an MG fanatic that a TR3 was the better car, or to suggest to a TR3 owner that an MGA was prettier and had earned a true sports car tradition.
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