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Triumph GT6

Triumph GT6 Published: 29th Apr 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph GT6
Triumph GT6
Triumph GT6
Triumph GT6
Triumph GT6
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Uncanny similarities – but the Triumph is so much cheaper!


E-TYPE’. IS THAT SO? Well, there’s some truth in this. With its sleek coupé lines, that long power-bulged bonnet that also accommodates a straight six and a handy rear hatch, the GT6 was quite rightly likened to a poor man’s E-type when launched 50 years ago.


Again, there’s more than a grain of truth in this. The GT6 was conceived soon after the Spitfire was launched and Triumph’s favourite stylist, the Italian Micholetti, came up with a fastback that first served the Le Mans Spitfire racers before it evolved into a GT road car. So, like the Jag, there’s some racing heritage thrown in.


Chalk and cheese so you can’t directly compare; the bigger TR6 is the far sportier car and, thanks to its larger engine, is much quicker.

Against this, it feels more dated and traditional – the essence of a classic sports car in many eyes. The slower but smoother GT6 is better as a tourer even though the ride is as harsh as a TR6. If anything, the TR7 was more a suitable replacement to the GT6 than the TR in original coupé guise.


Oh, they are home-made Spitfires fitted with either a GT6 or TR6 engine and, as you can imagine, can blow a TR6 into the weeds if properly engineered (but many aren’t as the swap is not as simple as it sounds-ed) – the main reason why Triumph never officially produced one! In our opinion, we prefer the GT6 as it is, especially if it has a fabric sunroof (and many did) to enjoy the best of both worlds


Depends what you want; there were three generations of the GT6, with the Mk1 launched in October 1966. These are the rarest of them all although not the most desirable, mainly due to the fact that, even in plain Triumph 2000 tune, the performance far out-paced the Herald chassis’ handling limits. As thrilling as they were, the Mk2, introduced exactly two years later, is the more sensible buy as Triumph reworked the rear suspension in a big way, adopting a new doublewishbone design on both the GT6 and the mechanically similar Heraldbodied Vitesse. A superior cylinder head taken from the TR5/6 took the power from 95bhp to 104bhp for some extra poke while a raised front bumper also helped improve the looks – well, in our eyes anyway.

The final incarnation is the Mk3 which is identified by a neat Staglike tail treatment and slightly smoother looks along with more interior enhancements. They only lasted for three years before the GT6 was discontinued and are the nicest, yet values can be the lowest.


The GT6 drives like you’d expect a six-pot Spitfire to perform. Performance is in another league to its sports car relation, not simply in speed but also smoothness. Most came with the optional overdrive gearbox (or has been retrofitted with it) and this makes for a very long-legged and relaxing GT. The handling was mostly sorted on the Mk2, and, when complemented with wider modern radial tyres, shouldn’t cause major worries although the tail needs to be respected on a closed throttle, particularly in the wet

The Mk3 actually ditched this expensive design in its last year of production (when a brake servo was made standard) reverting back to Spitfire hardware modified for the 1970 MkIV facelift. Fear not though, this more basic idea is regarded as the best modification to earlier GT6s, along with better dampers – GAZ come recommended – and larger 175 section tyres. Uprated springs are also available plus there’s an American IRS set up (at £1200 though). The ride, while never in the same class as the Jaguar, can be made intolerable if wrongly modified so take care here.


Hmm, when new they were in-house rivals similarly priced. Now it’s an individual choice; the MGB GT has a similar performance from four cylinders albeit not as smoothly delivered, a roomier cockpit with 2+2 seating (a rear seat was optional on the Triumph but is useless even for toddlers) and a better parts availability. The smaller Triumph is more compact and luxurious and while parts supply is good, it isn’t up to MGB levels.


Like-for-like, the MGB GT is regarded as being worth slightly more, the exception being the later rubber bumper models. However, the gap between the duo has closed considerably of late as more enthusiasts cotton on to the virtues and values of this Triumph. A good GT6 is valued at around £7000 for a Mk3, but the originals can command the most due to their rarity and £12,000 is not unknown for top Triumphs. You could argue that the six-cylinder MGC is the truer rival to the GT6 but their values are significantly higher. Spitfire 6 conversions are hard to value but shouldn’t match GT6 values, all things being equal.


Like all classics that stem from the 60s, rust is the main concern. The chassis can rot badly; rails, suspension points and outriggers are the most common spots although part replacements are available as are complete new frames if desired. Costing well over £1000, you also need to weigh up if a car is worth saving but at least a restoration project is made much easier although there’s no new bodyshells anymore. A common GT6 rust spot is on the roof just above the windscreen.

Mechanically the car is robust; engines are durable, but can suffer from excess crank end-float (that’s the amount the crank’s pulley moves with the clutch pedal depressed). If excessive the thrust washers can fall out, calling for a very expensive overhaul. Front suspension trunnion wear is the biggest worry as seizure can lead to a wheel falling off in extreme circumstances. At the rear, clapped out universal joints usually result in vibrations and also spoil the handling as do the myriad of bushes once they wear – go for ‘poly’ replacement for better handling if not comfort and refinement.


It’s not critical, but the car may be wrongly geared if overdrive has been retrofitted as GT6’s coming with it from the factory will have a lower rear axle ratio. This means that a GT6 that’s had overdrive fitted will have taller than normal gearing. This is no bad thing, and will also help 30mpg fuel returns on a run, but may take the edge off performance.


That’s stretching the point somewhat, but as a ‘beginner’s E-type’ so to speak, the GT6 is the closest credible classic we can think of. By the same token, the Triumph is also a very good coupé in its own right that anybody should be proud to own – but be quick before prices start to catch up on the Jag!

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