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April 24, 2014

Chasing Classic Cars: Here come the British

by Paul Daniel

It was the other British invasion

The one that involved the British auto manufacturers finding a new customer base in the U.S. MG’s were one of the first cars in the late 50’s, Austin Healey’s in the late 50’s and then from Canley, Coventry, England there was Triumph Roadster. Legendary British sports cars. In this blog entry I’m going to write about the later Triumphs because I have a connection with them through a friend.

Hey Paul, check out Tim’s new toy

British sports cars, Triumph TR6, Triumph Tr4, Triumph GTA6+, collectable british sports cars, chasing classic carsThat was an e-mail I received from one of my buddies, Dave Flick, just before I went to meet both of them in Green Bay. Buddy Tim Monday had just purchased this TR6. When I saw it sitting in the garage my heart started beating. There it was, low miles, no rust, no nothing. It was in great shape but needed a little bit of TLC. The Triumph TR6 was built from 1969–76. The best-seller of the TR range built by Triumph when production ended.

For Tim the addiction began at a very early age. “One day I had been pulled over in a parking lot on Military Avenue, wrenching on my Chevy because the muffler had broken and was making fixes to wire up the tail pipe. I had been standing beside my piece of crap when a racing green Triumph TR6 (I didn’t know what it was at the time), had pulled up to the stop light beside the parking lot I was in. I instantly loved the cars lines and the way the wheels looked as though they were almost too big for British sports cars, Triumph TR6, Triumph Tr4, Triumph GTph GTA6+, collectable british sports cars, chasing classic carsthe car. He was revving the engine as he sat at the stop light and I listened to the throaty sound and I thought……..someday.” Tim said.

That someday took a while to Tim who had been casually looking for one for about five years. Even thought about making a trip to the Carolinas where the tin worms don’t live.  He had been periodically checking Craigslist, when he spotted a newly listed TR6, that just happened to be in the Green Bay area where he lives. He made an appointment to view the car, fully expecting to see what he had seen many other times……rust. He was amazed to see that there was very little rust, and it had overdrive. It wasn’t racing green, but he knew this was the one.

Great car but….

Some say that the TR6 is one of Leyland’s best achievements, and here comes the however, there are a number of issues because of poor design. Like a low-level radiator top-up bottle and a poor hand-brake. And then there’s the rust as is the case with other cars of the era although surviving examples tend to be well-cared for. It can be prone to overheating with many owners fitting an aftermarket electric radiator fan to supplement or replace the original engine-driven fan. But hey, it’s a classic.

British sports cars, Triumph TR6, Triumph Tr4, Triumph GTA6+, collectable british sports cars, chasing classic carsThere is a certain look that a British sports car has that stands out from the rest. How many American cars have a real wood dash? When Tim is driving his TR6 he says, it’s certainly not as refined as a modern sports car.  There is no power anything, but it is truly a joy to drive he says. “You feel the car when you drive it. Prior to getting this car, I would never go for a drive for the sake of “going for a drive”, however, since I have purchased this car, that is exactly what I do, and truly enjoy it.” he said. I’m still waiting for my ride Tim.

While we’re on the topic of TriumphsBritish sports cars, Triumph TR6, Triumph Tr4, Triumph GT

I am always snapping pictures with my iPhone. I found a couple more interesting Triumph examples like this TR4A built between 1965 and 1968. I love red, and convertibles. This car was a huge success racing in America thanks to engineer Kas Kastner and his top driver Bob Tullius. Side note: It was Bob Tullius who first suggested that American Motors enter the Trans-Am series with the Javelin, and Tullius who helped to get the proposal approved with AMC management in 1967. But before that Tullius won D Production class title in 1963 and ’64.

Check out this Triumph GT6+

British sports cars, Triumph TR6, Triumph Tr4, Triumph GTBritish sports cars, Triumph TR6, Triumph Tr4, Triumph GTLike a moth to a flame I was attracted to this one as I was about to go into a meeting. In the 1969 model year came the after getting blasted about crappy handling from the previous year’s model. The rear suspension was significantly re-engineered using reversed lower wishbones and rotoflex driveshaft couplings, taming the handling and turning the Triumph into an MGB-beater. It did 0-60 in 10 seconds and had a top speed of 112 mph however the last models imported here performed comparatively poorly, as compression ratios were lowered to accommodate lower octane unleaded gasoline. Pull over, it’s the fun police!

If I only had the money

Well, maybe, some day like Tim said. The cars I mentioned above can be bought for $6,000-$8000. Ah but not in the budget. Of course if I was looking for a British sports car there’s a diecast MG that Mark just did a review on.

 

 

 

 

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