Triumph Stag Quick Guide

TRIUMPH STAG QUICK GUIDE

Triumph Stag by Michelotti

The Triumph Stag has the looks, and the noise!

It could have been brilliant, but this V8 Grand Tourer was let down by a hurried engine development, which destroyed reliability. Now these issues have been tempered, the Stag makes a superb classic choice. Production ran from 1970-1977 and 25,877 were produced, all with Triumph’s own overhead-cam V8. That 3-litre V8 puts out 145bhp and has a simply delicious sound. The automatic suits the car well, but so does the manual, especially when equipped with overdrive. Power steering takes the strain out of driving and is far more direct than a Mercedes-Benz SL. Unlike many convertible sports cars, the Stag boasts rear seats, albeit not entirely adult sized. The option of a removable hard top boosts practicality while the chunky rollbar adds safety.

WHY YOU WANT ONE:

  • Thundering V8 engine
  • Stylish Italian looks
  • Plenty of specialist and club support
  • A great Grand Tourer – comfortable and quick
  • Good survival rate

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

  • Corrosion; sills, floors and hood stowage area
  • Overheating or rattly engines
  • Bodged restoration work
  • Rover V8 installs. The market prefers originality
  • Damaged/torn hoods

RIVALS FOR YOUR AFFECTION

  • Mercedes-Benz SL
  • MGB GT V8
  • AC Cobra replica
  • Jaguar XJ-S

The love that left me

Some years ago, I had more money than sense. Now I have little of either. Back then, I worked in IT Support for a large utility company, enjoying the highest earnings of my life up to that point. Then I turned 25. I decided to celebrate this momentous occasion by hiring an MG RV8 for a day. We clocked up 200 miles hurtling around The Cotswolds, enjoying the acceleration and wonderful noise as we exited every village. Other than the engine, the RV8 was nothing short of a massive disappointment. The interior was a horrible mix of controls pinched from such wonderful machines as the Rover 100 and LDV Pilot, the suspension seemed to have been forgotten completely and bends became terrifying as it skitted about like a tea tray skidding down a cobbled street. I digress.

Rover P6B

Ah, the car that broke my heart. What a machine!

It was my first encounter with Rover’s V8 and it was soon clear that like an addict, I needed another hit. The choice of what to go for was enormous. The engine has been fitted to so many cars. Here’s a few for you. Rover P5, P6, SD1, Land Rover, Range Rover, Land Rover Discovery, Land Rover Forward Control 101″, Ginetta G32, TVR 350, Griffith and Chimaera, Freight-Rover van, MGB, MG RV8, Triumph TR8, Marcos (various), Morgan Plus 8 and even, in Australia, the Leyland Terrier truck. It’s a bit of a whore is that engine.

I rushed out and found a Rover 3500 for sale, more commonly known as the Rover P6B. It was a car I’d long had a hankering for. It mixes British engineering, but with a large dose of Gallic flare – for the base unit construction is very similar to the Citroen DS, the big giveaway being the similar treatment at the top of the windscreen. So won over was I by the wuffle of that V8 (the Rover P6 DID get the engine it deserved, unlike the Citroen), the stunning Tobacco Leaf paintwork and the fact that it was a rare pre-facelift model. I ignored the rotten sills as a mere technicality.

Driving home in my new machine was certainly quite an experience. It was the oldest car I’d ever owned and driven up to that point. It didn’t have power steering, but that seemed no great loss as the large wheel seemed to do a pretty good job of making the thing go where I wanted it to. It was also my first automatic though, and while I had driven autos before, the old Borg Warner 35 gearbox used in the P6 is a clunky old devil and it took time to work out how to get the best out of it. The brakes were superb though – all-round discs were standard on the P6 even from launch in 1963.

I think I’d utterly fallen under its spell by the time I got back home. The cosseting ride and surprisingly nimble handling just left me to savour that V8 as it effortlessly bore me along. I did discover that the kickdown didn’t work, but that would probably end up saving me a small fortune. With so much torque on offer, who needed it? I could always snick the gearlever down into 2 if I fancied a bit of full-blooded acceleration, with the V8 screaming magnificently. It turned out I did fancy this, quite often! Especially as I accelerated out of Lower Boddington in Northamptonshire. I apologise to the residents. Not my neighbour at the time though, he loved it!

I can’t imagine there were many IT professionals (I use the term very loosely in my case…) who were sauntering around in a 24-year old, petrol-slurping executive car, but I was, and I loved it. Sadly, I was becoming aware that the sills were going to need attention before too long. The car went off for some expensive surgery. The bill for £1400 almost floored me, but around this time, I got a job that paid almost twice as well, so all was well. Wasn’t it?

Not really. Despite a wonderful random trip to Wales just after Christmas (not very far from where we live now, and we passed through our current village!) there was no denying that 20mpg was getting a bit tiring, despite my new income. Maintenance bills were making me weep too. Keeping a P6 in fine fettle gets very painful very quickly if you can’t do the work yourself, and I couldn’t then. In the end, I sold her on Ebay for a few hundred pounds less than I paid for her, after throwing a LOT of money at her in the time I owned her.

I still miss that car very much now. Would I forgive TBH 249J (or Tabatha) and take her back? I suspect my wife hopes that opportunity never arises…

2CV, Peugeot, Rover

The fleet was certainly varied in 2003! Only the 2CV survives various fleet culls...

Sweet Music?

Owning a selection of cars is a lot like managing a rock band. Probably.

You need the right ingredients. After selling my Citroen BX, the ‘band’ that is my fleet felt out of balance. It was like the drummer had stopped mid-track and dropped his sticks. Don’t get me wrong though – the BX was no Keith Moon. Rather it was a bit of a Ringo Starr. Didn’t do anything spectacular really, but kept everything together (most of the time), though I don’t think the BX would be any good at narrating Thomas the Tank Engine. Sure, the stripey nature of the car and the trick suspension was perhaps a bit of an Octopus’s Garden, but generally, it provided the rhythm to fleet harmony. With the car gone, harmony departed with it and the fleet was unable to continue its career in any meaningful way. There was only one thing to do. Scout about for a new drummer. The Saab was chosen to fit that role, and while there have been some teething troubles (always tricky when a new musician joins an outfit) it’s poised to take on the Ringo role. Maybe a bit more jazzy like John Densmore of The Doors.

I did try a V8 Land Rover in the role of bassist, but it proved lacking in the thundering bass department, despite 3528cc of American-bred, aluminium engine. Perhaps that was the problem because the Scimitar fits the role rather well. The heavy V6 Essex engine bellow a strident bassline at the world. It isn’t the most exciting of bassists perhaps, lacking the zaniness of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers or sheer oddness of Roger Waters from the mighty Floyd, but it adds that all important lower level noise with plenty of style, while looking good in Seventies vinyl. Suzi Quatro it is then.

The colourful guitar stylings are naturally the home of the Citroen 2CV. It may only pack 602cc but crikey does that light-weight engine sing and scream! It’ll hurt your ears with its force, but don’t let the bark fool you – it’s all cuddly and nice really. Only one band fits the bill for me, being the only force of music that I’ve ever seen that left my ears ringing two days after the concert. After the final song, the lead singer/guitarist just stayed at the microphone and pleasantly asked whether everyone was having a nice time. Aw, he did seem nice. That man is Robb Flynn of Machine Head.

All this leaves the Mini a bit like Linda McCartney in Wings. Pointless and not really necessary. She needs to go, so if you can offer Betsy the Mini a new life, perhaps launching a range of vegetarian food and guest-starring in The Simpsons, please feel free to come and visit with your chequebook open.

Land Rover – Bye 4×4

Landy for sale

It's been fun, but the Land Rover must go

Yes, my 1988 Land Rover 90 V8 County Station Wagon is for sale. Currently on Ebay and fast approaching the reserve price.

I’m glad I bought this Landy, but to be honest, I don’t have much reason to own it. On the road, it’s no great shakes – though clearly better than a Series Landy. Off-road, it’s brilliant, but despite managing two off-road trips in as many months, I don’t think I can keep that up with other stuff going on, which means that it’s an occasional-use toy. That’s not right for me – I like to own cars I’m always happy to jump into and drive pretty much anywhere in Europe.

So, she’s on Ebay and I’m trying to work out what on earth I end up with next…

Link >>> http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270710424830

V8 Conundrum

If you’ve read my blogs, you’ll know that in December, I bought a Land Rover 90 V8. A childhood dream realised at last!

Yet there’s a feeling of ‘don’t meet your heroes’ that has crept in of late. Don’t get me wrong, I love V8s, and this is my second car equipped with Rover’s ex-Buick engine – the first being a Rover P6B. But I don’t think it’s the right engine for a Land Rover.

To me, Land Rovers are agricultural – trucks with just about enough comfort to make them realistic as road transport, albeit nowhere near as competent as an actual car. I love them for that. But you don’t get many trucks with a V8 engine do you?

No, they employ diesels both for economy and because when it comes to low down dirty grunt, a heavy oil burner has it by the bucket load. Yes, the V8 has a remarkable amount of torque for a petrol engine, but having twin carburettors and an ignition system, it doesn’t have that serene pull of a diesel at lower revs.

But then, if I wanted a diesel Land Rover, I’d find there’s quite a premium to pay – especially if I got my hands on the one I really want. That’s the TD5. It’s an engine with a rather poor reputation, yet my neighbour’s Discovery has clocked up 225,000 without significant fault. It’s a great sounding engine too – a hint of five-cylinder warble and the growl of an engine that knows how to do its business.

Oh well. Can’t afford one anytime soon, so I s’pose I’ll have to make do for now. Or sell it and buy something completely different…

Best sounding classic?

No, not which one has the best sounding engine – I’d argue strongly for the Triumph Stag there – but which one has the best name?

Is this the best sounding classic? Or is he blogging about something different?

Triumph Stag is certainly a contender – a successful and aggressive beast is what the name suggests. Much better than Maserati Bora for sure. Some are a bit more functional – the Bond Minicar was just that, the Triumph Roadster likewise. Not very exciting though eh?

I recently drove a Bentley Brooklands Turbo R Mulliner, but that’s all a bit of an unnecessary mouthful. It’s like they were trying to chuck in every English thing they could think of. They might as well have called it the Bentley Royal Family Blackpool Pleasure Beach. I’m quite pleased they didn’t though…

The Gordon-Keeble GK1 starts well, but they clearly ran out of inspiration. Others just lie. The Morris Minor 1000 ended up with 1098cc, the Citroën 2CV actually had 3CV by the 1970s. Mercedes-Benz on the other hand just confuse. A 220SE has 2.2-litres, a 300SE has 3-litres. But you can also get a 300SE with a monstrous 6.3-litre V8! They called this the 300SE 6.3. Obviously.

The French were never much into names. Renaults were generally numbers after the Fregate/Dauphine/Caravelle era, Peugeots stick with the number-0-number and Citroën at most pulled a few letters together. The Traction Avant merely started life as 7A and only the Ami, Mehari and Dyane broke theme right up to the Xantia of 1993. That’s the French out for a refusal.

I guess it’s hard to decide, so I’m going to pick two Rovers with identical engines – something that gave the Solihull fellows a few sleepless nights. I therefore crown the winners of this non-competition the Rover Three-Point-Five and Rover Three Thousand Five.

This is a Rover Three Point Five...

...whereas this is a Rover Three Thousand Five. Very different (in engineering if not name!)