A Life In Cars

The life story of Dickie Sutherland

The TR8 in all its glory after LDH conversion and restoration

2009

Triumph TR8 Convertible

The TR8 allowed me to combine my interest in ‘pulling things apart’, restoration and rebuilding, and my dream of owning a car for pure V8 driving pleasure.

I considered the TR4A to be a cruiser, and I was still holding onto this boy-hood dream of owning a sports car.  The earlier TR7-V8 conversion had been a bit of a false start, so I still had my eye out for another project car.

Fortunately, Carolyn had allowed me to add another car to my collection, at a time when Sarah had moved out of home, and Nic had reduced his collection to two.

The 1980 TR8 was over 30 years old and would be a V8 car eligible for historic registration in South Australia (that being affordable registration for a man who now had 3 cars). The 1980 TR8, the last of the TR’s, was a rarer Triumph, that should escalate in value.

The TR8 sitting in the condition I bought it.

LHD conversion

The TR8 offered me a challenge and a great project.  It was a LHD convertible, with a very straight body, rust free but with badly crazed light blue paint.  It was a car that had come from one of the dryer states in the USA.

In the beginning, I stripped the car of all of its parts. Right down to the last nut and bolt.  I had planned a very straightforward ‘strip to bare metal’ and repair the body where needed.  Obviously also, there was the conversion of the interior, steering and controls, to become a right-hand drive. 

Thankfully, it was quite straight forward with help from many ‘how to’ books.  The TR8 was a now a deep blue and looking very sharp.

Don’t sell that TR8! Tuesday’s will never be the same

After running quite sweet to begin with, the TR8 had its challenges and quite a few idiosyncrasies.  Pop up light problems and significant loss of power were two of my most annoying challenges, just to name two.

It was almost laughable the issued that occurred. However, thankfully, many a word of advice other ‘TR wedge’ owners and experienced friends like Darryl Horner (my best mate and ‘best man), began to ring true.

Generally, over the years, it was common for me to phone Darryl each Tuesday for a catch up. Over the years of our friendship, Darryl has become my encyclopaedia, my Wikipedia, my manual for all things automotive. During this time, the Tuesday phone calls were inevitably dominated one way or another, with TR8 related questions. 

I was always stretching my limited knowledge to breaking point, and Darryl was a great sounding board.  With his vast knowledge of mechanics and engine, he was also there to help solve my problems.

Darryl has said on quite a few occasions, “you better not sell that TR8 because Tuesdays will never be the same!” 

The carby problems

Probably the most unbelievable problems, were the loss of power or carburettor problems.

The car was back together after the restoration and conversion, and the engine was running pretty sweet.  After a few months of trouble-free motoring, the TR8 would come up to temperature, then seem to lose all of its power.

Darryl again came into his element, helping me tune and trouble shoot all the most common problems.  But still, the car was at a loss for power.  I even splashed out for some external help from a local carby specialist, yet a few minutes down the road, the car would warm up and shut down into ‘limp mode’.

After what was months of troubleshooting and pain, it was found that a small piece of foreign material had contaminated the rubber fuel hose that runs between to two carburettors.  It was limiting the flow of fuel, and had caused me to lose all of my remaining hair. 

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