Old Flames – The Triumph Stag

Posted: March 22, 2009 by The Car Spy in Classic Cars, Triumph
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Click here for Slideshow

As cars go the Triumph Stag is a bit of an enigma. By rights it should have been consigned to the dustbin at British Leyland labelled ‘Failed Projects’ by the time the first engine blew up. But here we are 40 years later talking about a car that seems to get more desirable as the decades roll by. The problematical early days are well-documented but no longer seem to matter. It is believed that up to 9000 examples out of the original 25k made are still on the road today and after MG the Stag has one of the most active owner’s clubs around. 

So how could such a problem-child turn into a classic icon?

Just park one up in the street, stand back and watch. Wager a bet with your mate that nobody will be able to pass the car without even a slight sideways glance. Giovanni Michelotti created a masterpiece. He was a bosom pal of Triumph’s boss, Harry Webster, and he was responsible for most of the company’s designs during their heyday. The Stag was his best effort and today it looks stunning.

Although the engine is the bit that most negative commentators tend to focus their attention on it is also one of the best bits. It is true of course that BL should have taken more care in its development but that doesn’t mean it is anything like an old nail. Just check the coolant regularly and change the oil every 3000 miles. There are plenty of original V8’s that have never been rebuilt so don’t believe all of the scare stories. We should know – we ran one for two years without any issues. RMK 922R where are you now?

So why is it also one of the best bits? Well, stroll back to your parked-up Stag and fire it up. The kids will drop their bikes and run up to the car begging you to give it some throttle. The noise gives you goosebumps. The tight bass-line ‘woofle’ of the V8 sounds like it was built yesterday. If you were wearing a blindfold you would never guess the car you were listening to was built in the 1970’s and the aural sensory pleasure it gives will make you want to drive the car all day with the roof down while looking for tunnels.

If BL had not skimped on important design and build issues then this V8 could have been an all-time great and it is without a doubt a perfect compliment to the super-smooth looking Stag. Forget all of the Rover V8, Ford V6 and 2.5 six-cylinder conversions – they are naff. The engines are all fine of course but the Stag’s chassis, suspension and brakes are set-up for its own V8 so weight distribution is perfectly balanced. Converted Stags are cheap for good reason so buyer beware.

The basic design was so good that the car needs very few modifications to make it a perfectly useable every day car. How about this for a specification? Front disc brakes, fully independent suspension with MacPherson struts up front, power assisted brakes, power steering, electric windows, front headrests, optional aircon, a choice of Borg-Warner automatic or 4-speed manual gearbox with overdrive and alloy wheels came as standard on the Mk2.

Over the years most owners have opted to switch to electronic ignition, polyurethane bushes and larger capacity radiators with electric fans to aid cooling. Many have installed new hoods, leather interiors and walnut veneer dashboards which only add to the car’s appeal. Don’t be tempted to fit low profile tyres though because the ride will suffer and gearing will be affected adversely.

A properly cared-for Stag should be an absolute joy to drive. Although a sprited set of performance figures are on offer – 145bhp, 0-60mph in less than 9 seconds and a top speed close to 120 – the Stag is a comfortable cruiser and a four-seater convertible to boot! The hood folds away neatly and completely under a hide-away cover and the clever ‘T-bar’ support ensures that the car remains tight with little noticeable scuttle shake. As with any classic you tend to get what you pay for and well-sorted examples fetch the best prices.

Stag’s seem to have a bit of a reputation in the film industry too because ever since the car was launched it has been a firm favourite with film producers to this very day. Diamonds Are Forever, Straw Dogs, Randall and Hopkirk, Murphy’s Law, Hazell, Second Sight, Dracula AD 1972, Carry on Emmannuelle, New Tricks and more recently on Ladytron’s ‘Ghosts’ video. Not all timeless classics granted but it just goes to show the effect of the Stag’s ‘cool car’ status.

OK, so now you want to buy one we know of a stunning, restored, two owner Pimento Red example showing only 23,000 recorded miles which even comes with the original dealer pack and ‘Passport’ to Service’ book. Click here for a Slideshow of images. Give us a call on 0845 643 2047 to find out more.

Comments
  1. Roy Carvana says:

    I aggree to every word you wrote. With at least a little bit of will the BL managers could had uprated the Triumph Vee Eight to modern standards:
    Using the Dolomite Sprint head and creating the oposite one.
    Using a similar common rail injection as on the Rover Vitesse and the flat plenum chamber from the corvette. together with altered electronic layout
    Modifying the cooling system with the big radiator from Rover SD1 and an external waterpump.
    Using an aftermarket oil cooler and the 5 speed gearbox from the SD1 which was a Triumph design anyway. And of course better Material for the heads and bolts. And perhaps an all alloy engine! I think that ebgine would had outdated the Rover V8. An american enthusiast made such an engine, the pictures can bee seen soon on my website!

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