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Triumph TR6

Joy of six Published: 7th Jul 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph TR6
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It’s 45 years since the last of the true Triumph TRs hit the showrooms, taking over from the departed Big Healey as a he-man’s car. Unreliable when new, development by enthusiasts has made the TR6 the car it now is words by classic motoring images by

Regular readers will recall last month’s Memory Lane feature when we looked back at the days when the TR6 could be bought for a song. But that’s just a dim and distant memory because five decades on the TR6 has evolved from a suspect sports car to a reliable and rapid roadster that’s hard not to fall in love with.

Sadly, prices reflect this and those £1000 purchases have increased ten fold for a decent example and you can double this and then some for a truly terrifi c Triumph. To some, this may on the face of it sound expensive but not when you compare one to the car it spiritually succeeded, the Big Healey.

Vintage even when it was new in the showrooms back in 1969, that remains one of the appealing aspects of the TR6, along with its stumpy square-cut styling and civilised cockpit. And thanks to enormous continual development since its launch, all the car ills – namely that Lucas fuel injection – have been not only sorted, but refi ned and improved making the TR6 better 45 years on than when it was brand new. And there’s never been a more sensible time to buy one before values really soar.

Only one TR6 was produced but speak to some enthusiasts and there’s only one car to have – the original pre-1972 150bhp cars because after this the engine was toned down to 124bhp care of a less wild camshaft and smaller inlet valves.

And so what some experts say because the lower power matters little because the difference on the road between them all is not as great as you might expect.

In fact, top TR specialist Neil Revington ( says the real world gap was far more like 10bhp and this was usually due to how the power figures were calculated by Triumph!

This is further compounded by the odd 132bhp quoted for the 2.5PI saloon. The point Revington makes is that too many people get hung up on a ‘150bhp’ CP-engined car.

Rather should buy a TR6 on condition rather than how many horse it has under that German Karmann facelifted bonnet and that’s because like all TRs, they hide their rust bloody well, and rebuilds always cost more than you budget for – certainly it can cost more than buying a good one from the outset.

This situation is complicated by the fact that very few TR6s are still around in an unrestored state, a result of the excellent supply of spares which includes body panels from BMH who at one stage even made shells. The vast majority of TR6s went to the US and a fair few have made it back to these shores, some still in left-hand drive form. Conversions to right hand-drive are straightforward, but budget for around £1200-1500 from a specialist to do the work. Or why not leave it alone because classic Brits are hot stuff overseas, especially LHD. Where you may lose out with a US expat is with its detuned engine that’s running on carbs, but that could be a good thing because you won’t suffer from PI woes and you can easily uprate the engine to UK spec, but keep it on carbs.

There are far fewer rattles than on something like a contemporary Spitfire or Midget although the TR6 car is not like a tault, rattle-free Mazda MX-5, especially a well used one. Unlike earlier TR4s, no rear seat was offered for the TR6 but as the cabin was built for two people so there is plenty of room, a convenient luggage space behind the seats and enough seat adjustment for lanky legs to stretch out, although gearbox intrusion does make the footwells typically Triumph tight. How a TR6 performs depends upon what you are used to. Step out from a modern or an MX-5 and it will feel odd. The heavy steering requires proper muscle power, the gear change can be sticky and the clutch action is heavy – typical classic sports car feel, in fact.

Get the TR6 out on the open road and a different character emerges. Yes, it’s still a heavy Healey-like beast but that’s the appeal. Power delivery from the longstroke six-pot engine makes the tail squat when you bury the throttle (a criticism of road tests of the time) and the infamous ‘Triumph twitch’ when you apply power remains all to evident. The ride is fi rm, but a front anti-roll bar allied to IRS helps to make the handling pretty predictable on good tyres although in the wet, oversteer can be had – but held – at whim. All this means is that hustling a TR6 becomes something to savour so long as you are prepared to take control of the TR6 by the scruff of the neck and show it who is boss.

If gentle cruising is more your game, the TR6 is well suited for the job. The overdrive box is geared to place the legal limit easily under 3000rpm. Like the MGB, overdrive is an essential as the straight four-speeders seem fussy by comparison. It’s not simply for relaxed frugal cruising but also due to the fact that without the seven-speed o/d-aided transmission, the intermediate ratios seem too widely spaced to make use of all that healthy pulling torque. The best way to sum up a TR6 is that you know you’ve been out for a drive, and that’s where the overall satisfaction comes from.

Everything about the TR6 is now reliable and replaceable. The hood is easy to erect, there’s a stylish optional hardtop (although like the wood promotes a lot of wind noise) while going topless liberates fair bit of buffeting although no more so than any other old sportster.

Using aTR6 everyday takes away that sense of occasion feel we reckon but, so long as you can stomach the 20-24mpg is doable. With 60mph coming up in tad under nine seconds if in good tune (but many aren’t) a PI TR6 should have more than enough go to cope with the cut and thrust of today’s life. And you can make a good car even better with selected mods such as a better suspension set up, Toyota or BMW transmissions (where a BMW rear end works wonders) and a raft of engine upgrades, which includes a 2.7-litre rebore. The least you should do is, if you’re running on the original Lucas injection, fi t a new Bosch fuel pump and reposition it – a specialist will advise.

So many cars have been restored, hacked about and tinkered with over the years that it can take some time to get one running just right. But once sorted and in tune (always use a good TR specialist for this), then a TR6 is a relatively easy car to own, with simple mechanical underpinnings that lend themselves to DIY maintenance. One exception is that special tools are needed to replace the taper roller bearings on the rear end, so grumbly bearings are best quietened with exchange hubs. The supply of parts at reasonable prices is also superb, and shopping around can net you bargains.

Exactly how easy a TR6 is to keep on song will depend on what has been done to the engine. A pair of Strombergs or an SU conversion generally proves easier to tune than a full set of DCOE Webers, for example. Even a car running the Lucas fuel injection should remain docile and tractable, particularly if the fuel pump has been moved from its heat-prone position in the boot right over the exhaust. To run on unleaded, you will need ultimately hardened exhaust valve inserts while the seals in the Lucas PI metering unit will also need upgrading, but these are one-off outlays when the time comes.

Talking of one-off outlays, Revington TR markets a special throttle linkage which puts real power to your right foot. The problem is wear and slop in the original design says the Somerset specialist and results in some cars only working on less than half throttle. For under £200 it gives full response and makes it feel as though there’s much more than 150bhp under the bonnet!


1967 Short-lived TR5 PI showcases the new six cylinder engine in the TR4A. Stroked to give 2498cc and fi tted with Lucas fuel injection to give 150bhp in Europe as the TR5 PI. Also sold in America albeit with twin Stromberg carbs for a paltry 104bhp and badged as the TR250. Sells incredibly well

1968 A facelift by Karmann of West Germany grafts a new nose and tail onto the old centre section to create the TR6 with a more modern look; overdrive, hard top and wire wheels all optional. Still made in PI and carb confi gurations

1969 Car is officially launched in the UK and to considerable acclaim as one of the last of the ‘real’ sports cars, although before the end of the year, the seats were quickly modified for better comfort.

1973/4 PI power output is reduced to 124bhp early in the year to improve reliability, smoothness and better torque. A year later, gear ratios are aligned with those fi tted to the Stag and overdrive is standard while a subtle front spoiler aided highspeed stability

1975/6 TR6 PI production ends early in 1975. Carb production ends the following year although some cars linger in dealer showrooms as late as 1977. A highly credible total of 91,850 TR6s were sold over a production run of nearly eight years


The TR6 might boast a separate chassis, but the body still contributes plenty of strength to the whole car. Look particularly for rust in the fl oorpans, the A-posts and where the B-posts join the rear inner wings.

Lift up the carpets and check the fl oorpans, particularly in the footwell, around the pedals and by the seat mountings. Has repair sections been welded in correctly? Another common rust spot is where the rear suspension arms bolt to the chassis frame. Sadly repairing this section requires the body to come completely off or access holes have to be cut into the floorpan.

Outer panels rust like any other car, and problems here are usually obvious. One area that might be worse than it actually appears is in the double skin to the front of the bonnet. Here a new panel at £370 may be the most cost-effective remedy.

The chassis rails can rust from the inside out, swelling in the seams usually hiding more serious corrosion. Watch to for accident damage, which most often creases the rails behind the front wishbones.

Sills can rust anywhere, but look first for decay under the A-post and for sagging doors that may indicate either rust or poor repairs in the past.

The Lucas fuel injection got a bad press in its day, but can be set up well by somebody who knows what they are doing. A Bosch pump makes a good alternative.

Engines are durable, but can suffer from excess crankshaft endfloat. Up to 12thou means a simple replacement of the thrust washers might effect a cure.

Over about 50thou and the thrust washers fall out, and that gets expensive as the block may be scrap.

Oil pressure should be quite high on the move. If it drops as low as 10psi at idle or the needle becomes erratic, then the crank is probably worn.

Gearboxes are also long-lived. The action is never lightning fast, but if it is noisy then a lack of oil may well have ruined the layshaft.

Clonks on take-up may be UJs (cheap), worn driveshafts (£212) or cracked diff mountings (expensive), so investigate carefully.

The trim is easy to replace so don’t fret over a tired cabin if the rest of the car is sound. The optional hard top adds value while the standard steel wheels are fi nding increasing favour over aftermarket alloys.

We reckon

A well sorted and set up TR6 is an easy match for a Big Healey and at less cost. There’s an air of class and authority without any degree of fl ashiness or pose factor about a TR6 that few rivals of that era can rival. Without sounding non PC, the TR6 remains very much a bloke’s sports car and a relatively uncomplicated one that the enthusiast can happily tinker about with at home. TVR Chimaera excepted, this Triumph really was the last of its kind. And that’s what makes owning one so special 45 years on.

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