Anyone visiting stand 146 at the 1980 Birmingham Motor Show would have been able to inspect a facelifted version of the TR7, with glassy, 2+2 fastback styling and a T-bar roof with removable panels. The car, dubbed TRX, was built by IAD solely to promote their capabilities in the field of design and development.
The project brief was to change the appearance of the car while keeping the fundamental structure as original as possible, so the windscreen and surround was retained unaltered, along with much of the car’s superstructure, while all-new external body panels were fashioned in steel and plastics, with General Electric Plastics helping to fund the project. The interior was also given a comprehensive makeover.
IAD embarked on the project with the full approval of Rover Triumph and in cooperation with the company’s drawing office; indeed, they had been keen to ensure that it would not unwittingly preempt anything that BL might themselves have had under development. The fact that BL gave the project their blessing can be interpreted as a clear indication that the ostensibly similar in-house Lynx and Broadside projects were dead in the water by the end of the 1970s.
IAD went on to establish an international reputation in the field of automotive design, with notable achievements including building the full-scale prototype for the iconic Mazda MX-5 (Miata). In 1994 the company was acquired by Daewoo and became the Korean company’s European design and technical centre. Chris Milburn, who had formerly worked for Roy Axe’s Design Research Asssociates, became its Chief Designer in July 2000.