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Triumph TR6

Triumph TR6 Published: 2nd Sep 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph TR6

Fast Facts

  • Best model: 150bhp injected car
  • Worst model: 104bhp United States carburetted models
  • Budget buy: US converted cars
  • OK for unleaded?: No; mods are needed
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L3937 x W1480mm
  • Spares situation: Excellent
  • DIY ease?: Generally straightforward
  • Club support: Brilliant
  • Appreciating asset?: Set to soar
  • Good buy or good-bye?: It’s the last of the hairy-chested British sportsters
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Last of the old school TR Triumphs delivering vintage driving experiences but up to date spares and support back up. Beefy performance with enjoyable handling but with ride and body flex issues. A worthy more modern alternative to a Big Healey but at much less cost

When the TR6 was killed off 40 years ago, so did the heart and soul of Triumph. Granted, this brawny old school sports car that traced its roots back to early 50s was out of step with the trendy recession-hit 1970s, and the PI fuel injection system was proving more trouble than it was worth, but the car still enjoyed a strong following, thanks to its smooth, torquey straight-six, muscular lines and a classic British interior.

Fast forward four decades, and like so many Triumphs – not least the Stag – the TR6 is a better buy than ever, chiefly because the surviving cars are generally in better nick than they’ve ever been. While still stuck in the tyre tracks of the TR5PI, prices are starting to ascend at a fair rate and make a good long term investment while you’re having fun safe in the knowledge that an excellent club and specialist support will always ensure that TR6 ownership should be painless and low cost if you buy a good one. Sadly, many of the cars on sale aren’t as half as desirable as appears to be at first glance, so take care.


1969 TR6 appears in January as an update of the fuel injected ‘150bhp’ (142bhp net) TR5 with modernised squarer styling (care of German Karmann), front anti-roll bar and wider wheels. US federal cars sipped fuel from twin Stromberg carburettors yielding only 104bhp (126bhp net) as a result.

By November of this year, the TR6 had already received an early revise with extra standard equipment while reclining seats were now fitted while the plain steel wheel design was also refreshed.

1971 As early as January there’s more revises. For example, an anti-theft steering lock becomes standard issue while the supports for the rear springs and trailing arms are uprated. Then, in August, carb-fed engines receive revised manifolds for a touch more power and cleaner emissions. On all models, the gearbox gains a Stag-like design that’s more heavy duty.

1972 From September, carburetted cars get a CF prefix, a smaller fuel tank is fitted and there’s now a J-Type overdrive option. Then in November the CR-prefixed TR6 gets the same mods as the CF – the CR prefix from this point on denotes a car with the lower tune 125bhp injected engine that became standard ware on all PI engines, including the 2.5PI saloon and estate cars.

1973 In January the tougher J-type overdrive totally replaces the A-type unit previously fitted. Also, from this point, wire wheels are no longer an option. Cosmetic changes include a slightly revised frontal featuring a fresher grille plus a chin spoiler to improve high speed stability. The Instrument dials are also refreshed.

1974 From that October, all Statesidemarket cars feature those obligatory black impact bumpers with ugly, over-sized overriders although it’s nowhere near as blatant as the MG types. The gearbox now gains similar ratios to those used on the Stag.

1975 In January the final injected car rolls off the production line. Production of carburetted cars would continue until July 1976, when the TR7 arrived. By then, a highly creditable 94,619 TR6s had been built, in total of which just a paltry 8370 were for the British market. This means that there’s a fair chance some converted US cars are on our shores.

If you find a LHD car remember that thanks to massive interest abroad it may well be best to leave it unconverted.

Driving and press comments

Although it’s nice to have the 150bhp powerplant up front, the milder 125bhp edition, with its less racy, camshaft gives the TR6 perfectly respectable performance and in the real world there’s not a lot of difference between them so don’t get too hung up about it, says specialists who say the reduced bhp figure was also due to Triumph realigning its figures because the 2.5PI was always rated at 132bhp – yet nobody’s ever heard of a ‘saloon’ camshaft! What’s really appealing is how smooth and torquey this engine is, irrespective of which camshaft is fitted. PI or carbs? When Triumph ditched the former on saloons, the transition was barely mentioned in road tests (106bhp was quoted) but on the other hand, TR experts say that set up the PI works a treat plus copes with 200bhp or more.

Apart from a lustier engine, a TR6 is little different to TR4 to drive although there’s more weight up front so it’s less wieldy. Stiffer dampers and wider tyres do help here and many have had these fitted, but if you’re not a press-on driver, you might find the ride is too compromised as a result.

When Autocar drove one of the earliest TR6s, it loved the lusty performance but criticised the car’s slow steering, strong understeer, heavy clutch, notchy gearbox and firm ride – yet despite all these things it reckoned the TR6 was a “tremendous fun car”. Unsurprisingly, this weekly (as did many others) made direct comparisons with the recently discontinued Austin-Healey 3000 and even went so far as to claim the TR6 was the last of the real sports cars, stating that it was “tremendously exhilarating to drive anywhere”.

When Motor put another through its paces in 1969, it was more or less in agreement with deadly rival Autocar; praising its value and excellent performance but said the handling could only be described as “reasonable”. Despite this, Motor summed up the new TR by saying: ”The succession of TR models through the years has been a story of old wine in new bottles followed by new wine in the old bottle. The latest, with a new bottle holding contents which are very much in their prime, is unquestionably the best yet; we drank our fill and enjoyed it”.

Hot Car in 1972 said the TR6 was the “last of the real sports cars” and no wonder – it clocked WHP 854 J to 60 in 7.8 seconds! “People moan about the loss of the good old hairy Healey – they should take a look at the TR6”, it concluded.

That same year, Custom Car published a twin test with the new Capri 3000E (and how many of us flitted between the two back in the late 70s when you could buy either for less than a grand?-ed) and while liking the TR6 reckoned even back then that it didn’t handle as well as the fast aging MGB (Motor said much the same) and slated the ride, hood and what it considered “the worst placed ignition switch of the year”.

They say that opposites attract, and that’s what Car discovered when it pitched the vintage Triumph against the advanced Elan. Of course, the Lotus trounced the TR in virtually every department yet for all that conceded that the ‘Six’ remained “a highly manageable, indeed enjoyable, car to drive.”

Value and marketplace

While values of its predecessor have rocketed over the past couple of years (you can easily pay £40,000 for a superb TR5), the TR6 remains affordable, values remains fairly static. Restoration projects can start from £4000, and something that fairly roadworthy costing from under £10,000. Really nice cars will fetch £17,000 while superb cars command up to £25,000+. All prices are for genuine right-hand drive cars; knock around 10-15 per cent off if you’re looking at an ex-US car that’s been converted from left-hand drive. TR6s that are still to federal spec are typically worth around 25 per cent less than an equivalent right-hand drive example and given that there’s so much gear around for modifying TRs seem very tempting buys.


The list of possible TR6 upgrades is pretty much endless (and why most cars aren’t standard), with bits offered to improve the performance of just about every aspect of the car, including the brakes, suspension, interior, lighting, engine and transmission, the latter recently boosted by Revington TR’s new Roller Thrust Washer Set specifically for use in TR gearboxes to bring it up to Stag spec while still utilising the TR layshaft. An economical solution to an old TR problem if you already have a sound gearbox, although machining is needed.

Even if the car is otherwise standard, swap the original canister type of oil filter with a spin-on version – it’s an essential investment for under £50 as the original lacks an anti-drain valve, leading to the bearings being starved of oil on start up.

Another common conversion on the fuelinjection system is the replacement of the Lucas pump with a Bosch item, which solves most of the problems of overheating for which the Lucas pump has achieved an infamous reputation. The sky is the limit when it comes to performance upgrades – including a larger engine of 2.7-litres. There are numerous fuelling options, including triple Webers and better electronic fuel injection, the latter being the most efficient but also the most expensive although the original is pretty efficient say experts, where a lot of ‘lost’ bhp can be found by ensuring the throttle linkages aren’t worn; Revington says its kit revitalises most TR6s for a few hundred quid. Stopping power can be boosted by a four-pot braking system, while the suspension can be upgraded with alloy hubs, thicker anti-roll bars etc, although most TR experts agree that the best and most cost effective improvements are polyurethane bushes to the chassis and suspension along with a thorough geometry reset. Oh, and good quality tyres that aren’t over-sized either.

What To Look For


  • Most desirable TR6 features a 150bhp fuel-injected engine, but these accounted for just 10% of production. The 124bhp injected edition accounted for 5% – the rest were 104bhp carburetted cars. That means scant more power or performance than a TR4…
  • While there are plenty of standard TR6s about, many have been modified in some way, which can completely alter the driving characteristics. Before driving any prospective purchase, ask if the car is non-standard in any way.
  • The interior trim is straightforward and everything can be bought new. Seams can give way in the seat trims and there’s a good chance there’ll be a tear or two in either the seat covers or the door trims, while carpets wear through eventually.
  • As far as exterior trim is concerned, just about everything is available, although early front bumpers are tricky to source.

Body and chassis

  • The wings corrode along the top and around the headlamps. Corroded inner wings are what you’re looking for. With the bonnet up you can also see the bulkhead and front flitch panel.
  • With the doors open look at the base of each B-post, which rots badly where it meets the sill. Easier to see is rot in the rear deck, between the bootlid, rear wings and hood well.
  • Chassis needs careful vet. Potentially the most important are the mountings for the rear trailing arms. Area just ahead of the rear wheels where the five main chassis members meet up between a pair of bracing plates. These rot to the point where the trailing arm mountings are weakened. Patching this point is easy; long-term fixes are much more involved. Other areas are the mountings for the front lower wishbones and steering rack.

Running gear

  • Universal joints on the propshaft and half-shafts wear; listen for clonks as drive is taken up when the car is driven off. Also get underneath the car and look at the differential’s mounting points, which can be distorted or even torn away.
  • The gearbox generally doesn’t give problems. The first casualty on all is usually the layshaft bearings; this will be given away when cruising by a rumbling noise in all of the intermediate gears, which disappears when top gear is engaged. Overdrive ills are usually electrical and easier to correct.
  • The front suspension incorporates bushes, trunnions and ball joints that can wear. All of the components are fitted with a grease nipple although the recommended procedure for the lower trunnions is to use EP90 gear oil but most are greased.


  • Check play in the crankshaft thrust washers by depressing and releasing clutch – there should be no more than 0.015” movement. Any detectable movement means the thrust washers may have dropped out.
  • Engine is famed for its oil leaks, and rattles at start up. It won’t be hard to spot if the engine has worn out. Blue smoke when the car is accelerated points to bore and/or piston wear.
  • If you can see black smoke it’s because the fuelinjection metering has been set up to run rich – which means steep fuel bills and premature bore wear.
  • Other injection problems revolve around hot starting issues, fuel vaporisation and misfiring on start up. All parts for the injection system are readily available.

Three Of A Kind

TVRs have always produced cars in the Big Healey mould and modern alternatives starts with the Tasmin and 350/390 ‘wedges’ but the buys are the later S Series (V6 or V8 powered) and the brawny Chimaera. All offer old school thrills and meaty performance, especially the ‘look-at-me’ Chimaera where up to 5-litres are provided. Rust and build quality are always worries but parts supply is ok.
The Jensen-Healey was something of a liability in period, but modern know-how means you can now drive one of these enigmatic machines expecting complete reliability. With its free-revving, if peaky twin-cam 2.0-litre engine (provided by Lotus) that’s faster than a TR6, this roadster (or rare shooting brake) makes a brilliantly affordable left-field classic buy. Values are rising and parts supply is improving.
Built for just two years and also often accused of being a lame duck, the MGC was undoubtedly something of a duffer in period. But the handling issues that killed it can easily be fixed and the car can now be turned into a great grand tourer. With its smooth 2.9-litre straight-six it provides effortless cruising if not pace. Later 1990’s MG RV8 is a good alternative and very fast with sorted suspension.


The Americans knew they were on to a good thing, which is why most TR6s were exported to the US. Over the past couple of decades, many have been brought back here, and converted to right-hand drive so check to be certain. It’s so easy to buy something that will swallow all the money you throw at it (sub £10K buys usually) but if you take your time to look at and drive plenty of cars, you’ll see there are some lovely examples to choose from and still decently priced as well. A Big Healey replacement? Drive a good one and find that the TR6 is more than merely that.

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