The Factory TR8s by Roel van Es

Much has been written about TR8s over the years but I am not aware of any specific article on the factory TR8s: i.e. those cars that were used and road registered by the factory for a variety of test and experimental purposes. Due to the sudden end of production in 1981, and helped by the quick disposal programme that followed, many of these cars have survived, and their rarity value and enthusiastic following means many continue to survive today, nearly 35 years later.

My interest stems from the fact that I, until recently, owned one, KHP 565V, and that talking to other owners over the years has led to a wealth of information that should be recorded. I have recently gained further information on factory cars, from a very reliable source, that makes a brief history even more interesting.

It is curious, and at the same time natural, that peoples treasured cars have acquired all sorts of descriptions over the years such as " hot weather car", "factory demonstrator", "colour coordination car", "hand built car", "personal export derivative", "power train evaluation car" and last but not least " The xxx yyy car", e.g. "The UK Prototype car". As with all things of this sort the more often it is repeated, and written down, the more it becomes fact. It is a curious thing that the written word is so often accepted as fact, and treated by many as gospel, yet it is often a matter of conjecture; quite possibly resultant of hearsay, and occasionally even fantasy. I consequently write this in the sense of devils advocate, rather than wishing to be controversial.

The remaining factory cars, and fortunately many road registered examples survive today, are a curious mix of specifications and chassis or VIN numbers. There is on first examination little logic to be derived from this, but some sense can result.

The cars were often not registered for road use immediately they were built, and in some cases cars that had been built - and probably used - for a year or more were road registered, often in pairs or even threes. It was of course quite common then, as it still is today, for unregistered factory cars to be used on the road on "trade plates", undergoing development work as prototypes, often with various different power trains and specifications.