Saturday, 13 April 2019


I feel like I am making a new history for Bessy the TR7, but have always wanted to chronicle its past. There are a load of old documents in my possession and I have now had time to go through them and work out the timeline. So, here's the entire back story to the car.

TR7 production at Speke. Thanks to @Auto_Attic
Bessy was built at British Leyland's Speke plant on 22nd March 1977 and dispatched on 4th April that year. Looking at the records, she went to a BL/Triumph dealership near Solihull in the UK's West Midlands, Archer's (Shirley) Ltd. Archer's was a long standing dealership which dated back to the 1930s and alas is now long defunct.

Archers (Shirley) Ltd. Thanks to the Miniforum.
Archer's didn't register the car until 19th May 1977, the same day it was sold to a new owner. I guess it was/is usual practice for dealers not to register the cars until sold, to avoid them aging in the showrooms. The new buyer was W.E. Wassell Ltd, a company in the same region (Walsall, Birmingham) and the paperwork suggests it was used as a company car. Wassell started life selling motorcycle spares after WW2 and appears to be thriving today. In my imagination I have the TR7 being run by a stylish 70s sales rep, zooming around the country in the car wearing huge sideburns (unless "he" was a lady, of course), purple shirt with big collars, a tank top, flares and platform shoes.

Wassell parted with the car two years and eleven months later, on Friday 2nd May 1980, which I guess is about the normal period of ownership of a company car. The new owner was Bole Bridge Garage in Tamworth, another BL dealer since the 1960s and one which is now owned by Friars Gate and seemingly still in business. I wonder if our sales rep part-exchanged Bessy at Bole Bridge for another BL product, maybe a Rover SD1 or even another TR7? Or maybe he did a part-exchange back at Archer's, with the latter passing it on "in the trade" to Bole Bridge Garage.

Whatever, Bessy didn't hang around long in the Bole Bridge Garage showroom, finding a new buyer the following Tuesday, 6th May in the shape of a Mr Towers of Burton-on-Trent. Then on 2nd May 1981, Mr Towers sold the TR7 to a Ms Towers, which I assume was a family member.

Perhaps Bessy wasn't to Ms Towers' liking, as she parted with the car just a year and four months later, on 28th September 1982. This time the car moved further south, in the ownership of a Ms Marriott of Boughton Astley, Leicestershire. Again, the car was moved on after a year and four months of her ownership and this time came to Northamptonshire where she still resides today.

The new owner was someone who I will call "Dr C", for reasons which will become clear. He acquired Bessy on 7th February 1984 and was - and still is - a car man. How do I know this? Well, I worked at the same place as Dr C for over ten years, and knew him well. We worked together on various projects but never once did we make the connection over the TR7 and I only found out about his ownership of the car long after I left, and when researching its history. I have since been in touch with Dr C and he remembers it well, telling me he was extremely fond of it. Apparently he only sold it due to some engine problems. Dr C is now a very respected academic in his field and has a huge online footprint, so would be easily identifiable if I used his full name. So we'll leave him simply as Dr C.

So, on 20th January 1987, the TR7 became the new toy of a Mr Spear in Northampton, who perhaps was responsible for changing the original engine after discovering the issues acknowledged by Dr C. I wonder if he knew he had fitted a Dolomite 1850 lump instead of the correct 2-litre version? I guess we'll never know.

Things get a little murky here, albeit temporarily. On 3rd August 1980-something (could have been 87, 88 or 89) Mr Spear sold the car to a Mr Juby in Northampton. However, looking at the documents it would appear the new keeper section of the registration form went astray, and the only record of this transaction is the tear-off slip filled in by Mr Spear notifying DVLA of the sale. A registration document in the name of Mr Juby appears not to exist.

We're nearly done. At some point after Mr Juby acquired the car, it ended up at the village garage at Cogenhoe, Northants, from where I bought it for £100 on February 7th, 1994.

So, there you have a 95% complete history of RJW307R. There are a couple of mysteries, however: why, when I bought it, did it have a Dodwell's of Hinckley dealer sticker in the rear window, when that dealership doesn't get a mention in the otherwise joined-up history/documents?

And who added the brown vinyl roof and (presumably dealer-fitted) fabric sunroof?

I hope you found that interesting and, of course, if you can add some detail to the car's history then do get in touch.