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Triumph Scimitar Vs Stag

Cravat wearing Cabriolets Published: 28th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph Scimitar Vs Stag

What The Experts Say...

By his own admission Scimitar guru Graham Walker may be biased but he’s in no doubt that the GTC is the better car as well as being more reliable and easier to work on. “Get a good one as there’s a lot of bad Scimitars about,” he warns although says the standards of GTCs are higher when compared to the GTE. And like all Scimitars, the GTC is absurdly cheap, even if prices are starting to move upwards.”Even Spitfi res are dearer than a GTC,” he muses.

Triumph Scimitar Vs Stag
Triumph Scimitar Vs Stag

Models In Depth...

Triumph Scimitar Vs Stag
Triumph Scimitar Vs Stag
Triumph Scimitar Vs Stag
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Some classics cars can be a bit like Radio 2; you didn’t really like the thought of it at fi rst but became a more attractive proposition with your advancing years! In particular, it’s fair to say that some sportsters appeal more to the middle-aged enthusiast than others. Cabrios like the ReliantScimitar GTC and the Triumph Stag are good examples of this. Far from being hard-core, bonejarring spor ts cars for the trendy young enthusiast, these stylish and sophisticated 2+2s are more tailored for the cravat-and-slacks smoothies. However, these middle-aged buyers still have a bit of a ‘vee’ in their bonnet when it comes to performance! This pair of British alternatives to the mighty Mercedes SL have more in common than you’d think. Both a development of more prosaic machinery (the Stag was initially a headless Triumph 2000, while the Scimitar is a GTE with the roof chopped off), they are surprisingly few common body panels – less than 25 it’s claimed. Mechanically it’s powered by a 3 litre V8. This unit was originally created by taking a four-cylinder, in-line Saab engine (which had a single overhead cam and cylinders that were canted at 45 degrees), then making it into a V8 by siamesing a mirror-image four cylinders onto the block. At the time, Autocar commented, “Since Saab are now apparently satisfi ed that the four is the most durable engine in Europe, this bodes well for the life of the Stag.” However, early Stag buyers soon found out that this wasn’t the case, with the early engines being notoriously unreliable – though these problems have since been solved with modern fi xes. The Scimitar GTC is based upon the longer, fatter SE6 design, and was launched more than a decade later than the original, pert GTE. Why it took the Staffordshire company so long is a mystery, since it seemed such a logical thing to do. First penned back in 1977 (ironically the year when the Stag was dropped), the formatpowered by meaty ‘vee’ engines for lazy yet lively pace and smoothness. Of course, everybody knows about the Stag, which is currently celebrating its 40th birthday (launched to the public in 1970) but does the lesser-known Reliant Scimitar cut the Triumph down to size?

Which one to buy?

Metal or plastic?

The chief difference between these cabrios is in their build. The Stag is an utterly orthodox monocoque design, constructed in metal, while the Reliant has a glass-fi bre body sitting on a stout metal chassis. Chief enemy of the Stag is the usual tin worm, so check carefully for signs of fi ller, especially if buying an example with unrecorded restoration history. With the plastic-bodied Scimitar, crazing and cracking of the GRP body can be an issue, so again check for dodgy fi ller repairs. Although the Stag looks like a chopped down Triumph 2000 saloon it’s much more than that and they share is similar to the Stag. The chief difference is the power unit, which takes the form of the evergreen Ford V6 albeit the later German 2.8 unit. Styling? Well it’s a matter of choice; the Stag is so well known and has stood the test of time pretty well. The Scimitar looks chunkier and the interior appears plusher, although it’s not as hardy as the PVC-clad Stag’s. Incidentally, the GTC uses the same hood frame as the Triumph, it is claimed.

What’s the best to drive?

Surprisingly similar

By this we mean that they are both better suited to lazy cruising, with power to spare when needed – there’s no point trying to catch that Lotus Elise up ahead! In terms of pace there’s little in it. Unlike the GTE, the GTC relied upon the the smaller, sweeter, if not so lusty, 2.8 unit found in the Granada. But in terms of power there’s not much in it. The Stag’s engine was always rated at 145bhp – which Autocar already described as ‘modest’ in its 1970 launch report. The torque fi gure (170 lb.ft at 3500 rpm) is almost identical to the old Essex V6 (many of which found their way under the bonnet of sick Stags back in the 1970s/80s). It’s a similar story when it comes to handling. Both cars dislike being pushed to modern standards. However, with its stout chassis, extra reinforcement and a rear suspension not unlike that of an Aston (with a Watts linkage employed to secure the rear axle), the Reliant is the sportier, plus it doesn’t suffer from overlight steering the Stag does – or from the Triumph’s irritating rear-end driveshaft lock-up under the power. Another bonus with the GTC is that scuttle shake ispleasingly low, since the body sits on a strong separate chassis. Some 70 per cent of Stags were automatic and this was very popular on the GTC too. However, the manual with overdrive alternative on both is preferable, not least because it reduces cruising revs and improves mpg. Driven diligently you can expect around 25mpg from both, if in good tune

Owning and running

Stag all the way

With such a huge fan base, including one of the best car clubs in existence, plus excellent spares support and back up, the Triumph is the clear winner here; owning and repairing one couldn’t be easier.The Reliant Scimitar enjoys a smaller but no less dedicated back-up and support, although, with just 442 GTC’s made from 1980 until 1986, they need a fair bit of searching out. In contrast, Stags are not an endangered species. In terms of prices, all the Reliants (apart from the SE4 coupe) remain at bargain basement levels and fi ve grand will buy one of the best around – that’s a third the value a superb Stag can sell for. You stand more chance of fi nding a top Triumph but, if you fancy a long-term punt, surely Scimitars will soar soon? When new, 30 years ago, they cost almost £12,000 – that’s 40 grand in today’s money!

And The Winner Is...

Common sense would say the Stag. Apart from its far greater popularity, and ease of ownership, Stags are now good news image-wise. With the hood down (that useful, if heavy, hard-top resulted in terrible wind noise) in o/d top with that melodic V8 burbling (not boiling) merrily away, life doesn’t get much better. There’s more of the ‘what’s that?’ factor about the GTC and, apart from being far better value and more exclusive, owners swear that it’s the better car. So, all things considered, perhaps these ‘cravat cabrios’ actually tie, in this neck-and-neck comparison test!

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