The Triumph TR8 is an eight-cylinder version of the "wedge-shaped" Triumph TR7 sports car, manufactured by British Leyland (BL), and then Jaguar/Rover/Triumph (JRT). Because of its outstanding performance, the TR8 was often dubbed the "English Corvette". The majority of TR8s were sold in the United States and very few genuine TR8s exist in other countries. In these countries the TR7 is often converted to a TR7V8 with the same ubiquitous Buick/Rover 3.5 litre V8 power plant used in original factory TR8s (see below). In Australia a popular TR7V8 conversion is to use the 4416 cc version of this engine that had been developed for the Leyland P76.
A V8 version of the TR7 was always planned, there was even a prototype as far back as 1972, but British Leyland's financial state and labor problems delayed the project. But by 1978 some 145 cars were built with V8 engines (and usually automatic transmissions). These "anonymous" TR8s (no identifying badges) were evaluated for British Leyland by various dealers and then sold off as used cars. In 1980, a Drophead (convertible) TR8 was added and almost all later TR8s were convertibles. Total worldwide production, as best as can be determined throughout all the labor turmoil at the time, is only around 2750, give or take a "handful". I went through the records at British Motor Heritage Industry Trust a few years ago and counted 2746, but some records were missing so the chances are it's slightly higher. All TR7/TR8 cars were made until October 1981 when production ceased.
The TR8 did not use Triumph's own single overhead cam V8 as found in the Stag due to an unreliable service record but instead shared its Rover V8 engine with the top Rover SD1. The engine itself was derived from an early 1960s Buick/Oldsmobile all-aluminium 215 CID (3.5 L) V8 unit that Rover acquired from General Motors in the mid-60s. History has shown this engine to be an extremely reliable, flexible, and robust power plant. TR8s were initially fitted with twin Zenith-Stromberg carburettors. However, 1980 models sold in California, all 1981 models---of which only 352 were produced including 20 cars for the UK market---and all 1982 models---of which all 69 went to Canada---featured a Bosch L-jetronic fuel injection system with a specially designed Lucas fuel injection computer (ECU). The carburettor model was rated at 133 bhp (at around 5000 rpm) and the fuel injected at either 137 bhp or 148 bhp delivering 0-60 mph times in the low 8 seconds. Other differences between the TR8 and TR7 are upgraded brakes, revised axle ratio (3.08:1 on the TR8), battery moved to the boot, alloy wheels, leather steering wheel and a few minor trim changes.
Despite their low production numbers, TR8s have an interesting racing history. John Buffum successfully raced one as a rally car in the late 1970s. Bob Tullius of Group 44 dominated SCCA racing in 1979 in one, so much so that the SCCA added enough "reward" weight to the car that Tullius packed up and went and ran IMSA (successfully). TR8s ran successfully in the SCCA's Showroom stock series being campaigned by Morey Doyle (Regional's). In Europe Tony Pond, Per Eckland, Roger Clark and others successfully rallied the TR7V8 (called "TR7V8" because the TR8 was never officially sold in the UK) in the RAC, MANX, SAN REMO and other main stream European rallies.