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Triumph GT6

Published: 11th Oct 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph GT6
Triumph GT6
Triumph GT6

Buyer Beware

Rust is the biggest worry. Check the chassis first and foremost, crawling underneath to inspect the frame, especially the outriggers and the car’s suspension pick up points. Look carefully also for patchwork welding on the frame.

Look for bodyshell rot in the floorpan, toe-boards (lift carpets for inspection and be highly suspicious if they are stuck down), inner and outer sills (can be serious here), door bottoms, rear arches and valance panel, front bulkhead, suspension pick-up points and even the car’s roof (at the windscreen’s edge).

Bonnet and door fit was never of BMW quality and it’s easy to ‘over-restore’ the car and do it better than when new! However, proud-fitting doors or a wonky bonnet may also shout a bent chassis due to rust or a past accident. So check.

Excessive crank end float is a well known Triumph characteristic. With an aid working the clutch, watch to see how much the crank pulley moves. If it’s bad then it’s a full on engine rebuild job.

The GT6 suffers from a marginal transmission, which is basically jazzed-up Herald. Is the right gearbox fitted? A GT6 should have synchro on first gear, while overdrive cars from the factory also featured a lower axle ratio for better pull as standard. It’s a small point, mind.

Listen and feel for roughness and clonking from the drivetrain, due to wear in the numerous universal joints and (Rotoflex) drive-shaft couplings employed. A no-go overdrive is usually down to a dodgy switch

The Triumph’s suspension needs a careful watch. It depends upon the type which is fitted to the car, but essentially watch for the transverse rear spring settling, due mainly to pure age.

Look also for wear in its leaves and bushes, plus the usual deterioration of dampers. As a GT6 can be a handful at the best of times, it pays to see that the IRS set up (and those Rotoflex couplings) are kept in tip-top condition.

Front suspension design is simple and easy to access thanks to that forward-opening bonnet. Lack of maintenance is the main culprit for future problems, leading to the front suspension’s trunnions failing, along with the ball joints, drop links and front wishbones.

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Triumph’s sweet GT6 is more than just a six-cylinder Spitfire and is a smooth and swift GT in its own right

The sobriquet of a ‘poor man’s’ comparison is rarely flattering unless you’re talking classic Triumphs because it has a pair of cars that can proudly wear that ‘badge’ with pride. For example, everybody now says that a sorted Stag is like a ‘cut price Mercedes SL’ while since its launch in 1966, the super Spitfire, the Coupe-styled GT6 has always been regarded as a miniature E-type. Out of all the Canley copy-cats, it’s arguably the most credible of them all thanks to its similar long forward-hinged bonnet and a shapely sculptured fastback style. Yet for all its impressive credentials, as well as being a more refined, smoother, swifter alternative to an MGB GT, the car goes largely unnoticed 40 years since it was discontinued and today costs little more to buy and run than the Spitfire it is largely based upon. We know what we’d sooner own – how about you?


There were three generations of GT6 during its seven year production run. The Mk1 was the best seller but unless you’re a purist, it is seen as the model to sidestep because the car’s tail happy handling was at its very worst.

The Mk2 upgrade couldn’t come soon enough. Not only did it become more secure to drive, thanks to the improved Vitesse rear suspension being fitted, but arguably the car gained some great looks due to the raised front bumper height that gave the car a sleeker, sexier stance – shades of the E-type in fact! Power from the old Triumph 2000 engine was upped, too after Triumph standardised its TR5 cylinder head.

Last of the line Mk3s came along two years later in 1970 and are probably best of the lot because the reworked rear suspension from the similar Spitfire Mk4 truly tamed that waggly tail. And talking of tails, a Stag-like rump look was grafted on. Surprisingly, given its silky six and being more GT than sports car in character, there was never an automatic option. Overdrive was,, however, and such are the benefits that, like on the MGB, it’s silly to live without it.

Another really worthy accessory that many GT6s have is a sliding fabric sunroof, which means Spitfire-like open air delights yet also the versatility of a hatchback. It’s no wonder that so many cars came so equipped.

Because it would have embarrassed the TR range, there was never a Spitfire 6 although there’s plenty that have been so converted. If done properly, and there’s more to this conversion than just crowbarring in the engine, they make a really competent quick sports car. But so many are done half-hearted plus these ‘converts’ are also hard to value.

The GT6 isn’t as regarded especially highly in a classic circles, unlike the MGB GT, and as a result prices can be a fair bit lower although truly top cars are threatening to break the five figure barrier.

Good usable GT6s are generally £5-6000 buys and lately the well rounded Mk3 seems to have overtaken the earlier cars in the value stakes but it’s only a difference of £500 or so. We’d go for a late-as-possible Mk3 with a sunroof but condition counts the most so keep an open mind when having a look round.


Comparisons with the MGB GT are inevitable. Fierce in-house rivals they may have been during their lives, but in fact the GT6 is an entirely different animal to the Abingdon car and it usually appeals to a different type of enthusiast.

Lacking the raffish charm of an MG, the Triumph is a smoother, sweeter and considerably swifter coupe that, in its day, was deemed a quick car plus could keep station with any TR, especially around the corners. Autocar back in 1966 noted that, “The GT6 is much quieter and faster than the Spitfire, yet much more refined and somehow ‘tamer’ than the TR4A.”

That said, even back then on skinny less grippy tyres than made today, the GT6’s handling needed watching, because that Herald-derived chassis was at its limit.
The quirky IRS caused the rear wheels to tuck in when load was reduced and result in severe lift-off oversteer that’s easy to catch out drivers, especially those used to a grippy front-wheel drive modern. To be fair, this undesirable trait applied mainly to the original GT6, as the Mk2 and Mk3 cars are the much better behaved – particularly the latter (larger tyres help a lot, too).

Happily, there are a good many mods you can carry out to make the rear tyres keep in line and a GT6 can be transformed into a good, tactile and safe handler, although the ride will usually suffer. And, if the touring GT6 does have a downside, then it’s the firm ride – and that’s a shame because this Triumph is at its best as a GT where that lazy, lusty engine, marshalled by tall gearing, makes the GT6 a fairly good oldie for coping with today’s turgid roads.

An MGB looks huge compared to the more petite GT6 which is why it’s only a two-seater and a snug one at that. But it’s a lot more refined and luxurious. Anybody used to a Spitfire will be instantly at home in a GT6. As the car is essentially a fastbacked Spitfire, it’s more Midget than MGB sized and so a lot more cramped.


Typically Triumph to own so what else needs to be said! There’s superb club and specialist support, providing all you need from a simple service to a full on restoration – complete bodyshells used to be available, too. That forward-tipping bonnet allows unmatched access to the engine and front suspension and it’s as inexpensive and simple as a Spitfire to maintain.

As we advise on most classics, fitting electronic ignition is a wise policy along with an uprated radiator and we’d suggest investing in having the twin carbs rebuilt to ensure they are in tip-top shape; it makes a vast difference to the car’s running and economy. So long as you keep the chassis well protected, the GT6 rots no worse than any other 1960’s classic and new frames and part replacements are freely available. It’s a practical sports car!


If you like the idea of a classic for daily duties then few are as well suited as a GT6. There’s good performance from that straight six which when topped with overdrive, can see the right side of 30mpg. It’s Spitfiresized so it’s as easy and nimble in traffic while this Triumph’s legendary turning circle makes it a breeze to zip in and out of the back streets. Visibility isn’t great however, particularly over your shoulders.

One of the first sports hatchbacks made, there’s fair boot space for the usual supermarket shop. Many later cars came with a factory fit heated rear window so now all it needs is an aftermarket rear wash wipe for the winter. A full length fabric sunroof tops it off in more ways than one.

We Reckon...

A miniature E-type? Given the GT6’s style, speed and smoothness it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Stylish, smooth and swift the GT6 has a lot going for it. Sure you probably dream about owning that classic Coventry Cat one day – so, while you’re saving up for the Jag, why not prepare yourself properly with this ‘beginner’s’ E-type?

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