Custom Cruise Friday
Passionate automotive enthusiasts can usually narrow down what they love about a particular vehicle to a few traits. Some will value flat out performance. Others will enjoy the fact their passion project truly requires very little attention, beyond normal upkeep. Then there is Don Wheaton Service Technician Sayer Ketcheson and his former 1977 Triumph TR7 coupe, which possessed neither flat out performance nor a great reputation for reliability. If there was ever a case of fondly remembering a car in spite of as much as because of its flaws, its clearly laid out in this week’s Custom Cruise Friday post.
A thumbnail sketch of Triumph vehicles reveals, like the TR7 which was owned by Ketcheson, was a member of a family of lightweight British roadsters. The fondness Ketcheson held for his 1977 TR7 notwithstanding, the most famous member of the Triumph family was the Spitfire. In fact, when he was first looking to get into the world of British roadsters, he set out to find a Spitfire at an auto salvage yard and ended falling for the TR7. The car pictured at the top of this blog is actually the second TR7 Ketcheson owned. The first was a special case on its own.
“I bought the first one from an old crazy lady from Saskatoon,” Ketcheson said. “Nothing worked on that car.”
Ketcheson couldn’t be more literal in his assessment of his first Triumph purchase. It was probably easier for him to list all of the things that were broken than what was working, if for no other reason that there was nothing to say was working. The first TR7 purchase became a parts car for the benefit of one pictured above.
Called “The Wedge” in advertising materials, the 1977 Triumph TR7 had a lot going for it on paper as well as on the road. The coupe models were very rigid and when properly set up with the right tires and suspension tuning, could be a lot of fun to drive around and carve up backroads. Assuming there weren’t other mechanical problems to deal with.
More vehicles owned by the Don Wheaton team
Under the hood of “The Wedge” sat a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine attached to a four-speed transmission. Given the best circumstances, the car would produce less than 100 horsepower.
“It’s not a powerful car by any means,” Ketcheson said. “They are problematic cars, but I still love them.”
Ketcheson may still love Triumph cars, like his old TR7, however he is under no delusions about the challenging engineering that comes with each engine of a Triumph. According to Ketcheson, these problems are further compounded for later models that had to be modified to meet emissions criteria in the United States.
By his own admission, Ketcheson spent a lot of time – and likely a corresponding amount of money – to keep the 1977 Triumph TR7 running. There was always a leak to be plugged thanks to the Brits “non-standard” approach to engine building.
Don Wheaton plays the classics
Before getting rid of the TR7, Ketcheson enjoyed getting it in peak condition and displaying it at show and shines. Taking home a trophy wasn’t his goal. He enjoyed seeing the memories it brought back when people walked by the car.
“People like seeing them,” Ketcheson said. “I know I’m not going to win any awards. But that’s not why I did it.”
Even though he spent as much time under the hood of his Triumph as he did behind the wheel, Ketcheson didn’t hesitate whatsoever when asked if he would ever consider taking another one home.
“I’d love to buy another TR7,” Ketcheson said. “I’m a sucker for punishment.”
Do you have a project vehicle, a lost automotive love or just something really cool in your driveway? Don Wheaton would love to hear from you and tell your story. Please send a photo or two to Don Wheaton Brand Manager Melina Kawecki by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone with questions or concerns may contact the dealership directly by calling, 780-439-0071.