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A Spider in South Africa

By Ken Boss

Spiders (of the TR7 variety) are quite rare now and very few people have actually seen one. I purchased mine as a TR7 DHC on 20th June 1991 from a chap who could not get a fuel-injected problem sorted out. He had only owned the car for a few months. I had a TR5 and two PI Saloons at the time and was a "fundi" on the fuel injection, so the fuel-injected TR7 really appealed to me. I always wanted to own a TR7, and a rare fuel-injected one was a fantastic find.

After "working" on the owner for a few weeks, I managed to persuade him to sell it to me. Unfortunately the engine "blew-up" after only driving the car for a few miles (the timing chain tensioner fell out and the chain disengaged). Once I started stripping the engine, I found many other problems and ended up doing a full rebuild on the car. I sprayed it a bright red. It was completed to concours standards and was considered to be one of the top Triumph Sports Cars in South Africa from 1991 to 2000.

Early in the year 2000 I found out that the car was in fact a genuine Spider, so I researched the car - not easy and very time-consuming! When I had established how rare the car was (especially the fuel-injected version of the TR7 Spider - most of them had carbs.), we decided to restore it back to original specification. This was not easy! For instance, it took many month's of research to get the correct colour of black paint (the paint mixture includes a certain amount of maroon to give a reddish glow when the car stands in bright sunlight). The TR7 Spider was the first Triumph to be painted with twin pack acrylic paint and a special label was attached in the engine compartment to this effect. Similarly, the wheels are a much brighter silver than the standard TR7 or TR8 alloy wheels, and in fact have a different part number. My wheels had the correct part number, but had been powder coated in a grey colour.

So, this rebuild was a very different challenge to previous Triumph rebuilds I had done. There was virtually nothing to be done mechanically to the car other than refitting the whole air-conditioning system. I had removed this in 1991 when rebuilding the car because it did not work, and I thought it was an unnecessary complication. The carpets, seat coverings and badging/striping presented real challenges to me. The car was entered into the Concours d'etat bi-annual competition in 2001 and came first in class and 2nd overall with about 100 entries. The car should have done better, but the judges did not have sufficient time to study and refer to the documentation I had put together to substantiate originality. However, I am very happy with the car and it goes extremely well. It is very smooth to drive and is economical. The only car I would consider exchanging it for would be a genuine TR8! With the help of the TR Drivers Club, I now have a Heritage Certificate, which corroborates the car’s authenticity.