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Triumph TR6

Triumph TR6 Published: 5th Jun 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph TR6

What The Experts Say...

Doug Smith runs MG Motorsport (01442 832019/ and is a staunch MGC fan of decades standing.

He says this six-cylinder MGB is much misunderstood and a much better car than not only the Triumph TR6 but also the Big Healey, describing Abingdon’s effort as more manageable to drive than either of them. While conceding the car’s handling flaws when it was new, he has personally turned the MGC into a fine handler through years of development and adds that the best modifications owners can make to their cars are his uprated torsion bars and dampers.

At the time of writing this feature, Doug has a rare Sebring GT for sale which is commanding £60,000+ and he says standard cars now sell for half this, making the MGC the most prized model out of the MGB family. What makes them considerably more expensive over an MGB – to buy and restore – are the scarcity of its body panels as underneath the outer body skin it shares little with the MGB ahead of the windscreen; when we spoke to him he was in the rare process of scrapping a car.

Doug says MGC sceptics should really forget what’s been said about the car in the past – and try one!

Triumph TR6
Triumph TR6
Triumph TR6
Triumph TR6
Triumph TR6
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Both the MGC and the Triumph TR6 were aimed at Big Healey fans but what comes the closest?

How do you like your sports cars? Some like the characteristics of a sharp high revving screamer that makes you feel like you are racing on the road. Others prefer the lug and lust of a big straight six engine, particularly for touring.

If you are in the latter crowd, then few roadsters did it better than a Big Healey (see our guide elsewhere). Note, that we are referring to the later six-cylinder ranges as the original 100/4 four pot fell into the first category which proves our point.

Healeys are special and ever since the car’s demise in the late 1960s there’s been no shortage of imitators which some do better than others. Two first on the scene were in-house rivals from BMC with one designed as the Big Healey’s spiritual successor – the MGC.

Do we need to remind anybody about this car’s sorry, short life? Launched just as the Healey was being dropped, this six-cylinder MGB got off to the poorest start when BL itself sent the press cars out with incorrect tyre pressures which exaggerated the already considerable understeer caused by the big heavy engine up front. This and a lazy engine meant the car lasted just two years after 9000 sales, uncannily almost a straight split between the roadster and the GT.

The TR6 was rolled out in late 1969 just as the MGC was killed off (although some examples linger in the showrooms into 1971). The TR5PI was essentially a stop gap to get the fuel injected straight six into production before the clever square cut, German Karmann-penned revise took over and it was this car, the last of the ‘real’ TRs, that carried the spirit of the Big Healey until the mid 1970s when it was displaced by the much mild and meeker TR7.

Both Brits can justifiably claim to take over where the Healey left off and are appreciably cheaper to buy, but is there an overall as well as rightful heir to the throne?



Comparing any MG against a Triumph is like pitching City verses United – as owners will tell you, so deep does the loyalty run. Arguably the MGC scores in offering the choice of both a roadster and the hugely stylish and practical 2+2 GT, which we reckon, with an optional roll back fabric sunroof offers the best of both worlds.

The MGC is the only one which could also be specified in automatic form – and many were as it added to the car’s lazy touring character and this is where the difference really lies. The TR6 was a natural progression from the earlier four-cylinder TRs (as opposed to an addition to the range in the case of the MG) and while the car became better suited to touring it remained a sports car to the bone.

On the other hand, the relaxed nature of the MGC was another string to the MGB bow offering a car more suited to long distances with real sports car thrills provided by the more agile, perkier MGB!

The MG family spread to a pair of Roverengined V8s, first the MGBGT of the early 1970s (a better developed car than the MGC and a baby Aston if ever there was one – yet less than 3000 were made!) and then the RV8 roadster of the 1990s.

You can’t help but mention these here because prices across the MGB board are fairly even and values are more dictated by what buyers want. Unless really special 20 grand buys just about the best (B,C or V8s) with good cars perhaps just breaching the five figure mark although having said that, MGCs are starting to distance themselves from the others and to a significant degree.

Because TR5PI prices are soaring due to their exclusivity and rarity, TR6 values are also being pulled up and can sell easily over 20K, although again, perfectly good usable cars can be had for half this.

You’re okay for choice (with either marque) so take your time, view as many as possible and be choosy. Projects can be bought for £3000 or so but given that so many have already been done – at great expense – unless you fancy a challenge, you’re best off buying a car that’s already been well restored. We’d start our search at a marque specialist – there’s loads of them – as they invariably have the best examples for sale.




Many still are under the impression that the 3-litre lump under the bonnet of the MGC’ was the same as the old Healey. Not so, while their cubic capacity is virtually identical it was a completely different design, featuring seven main bearings instead of four. It was much heavier and, while that wasn’t too much of a problem for its other application, the huge Austin 3 Litre, it spoiled the predictable and sporty handling of the MGB, even once the correct tyre pressures were advised.

The annoying thing is that, with a little bit of engine tuning along with a few steering and suspension mods at the factory, it could have been a great car from the outset, with a similar Healey chuck-ability but much better steering, thanks to its superior rack and pinion set-up and brakes.

MG quoted 145bhp for the MGC but they are quite sleepy horses, not helped by a hefty seven-bearing crankshaft and so was always reluctant to rev (although a lightened flywheel makes a world of difference, we’re told). Another reason for the car’s lazy attitude is the tall gearing employed, more so if the optional overdrive is fitted.

Consequently, despite the TR6 boasting at best a claimed five extra horsepower (although detuned to 125bhp for 1973 which many experts say was nearer to the truth anyway), the Triumph feels a good deal quicker and a well tuned example was very quick for its day being two seconds quicker to 60mph. As with the MG, optional overdrive makes the car better suited for touring, although the MG is the winner of this contest and the default choice if you want an automatic; it suits the MGC’s nature very well we might add.

In terms of handling, the TR6 is the far more sporting pick because it does give the keener driver a choice of under and oversteer depending upon conditions of course. While hardly state-of the-art with its old TR2-derived chassis, the TR6 carries on the tradition of the famous ‘Triumph twitch’ under power as the driveshafts lock up, yet the car remains great fun on winding roads and feels more agile than the lumbering MGC – to be fair. Both cars can be improved considerably with aftermarket mods. Despite one being of monocoque construction (MG) and the other chassied, the pair weigh remarkably similar at just over 900kg; that’s roughly the same as a Mk1 MX-5 incidentally! But where the MG scores is in its better solidarity and it doesn’t suffer from the body flex that has always blighted TRs. In this respect it feels the more Healey-like.



It’s pretty much a photo finish as this pair of sports cars are two of the easiest to own and run, thanks to an excellent army of specialists supplying virtually every part you could wish for, and brilliant owners’ clubs; the only thing you can’t buy for either are complete bodyshells. British Motor Heritage has yet to include the MGC, and has no plans to reintroduce its TR6 bodyshell after low interest curtailed production a decade ago. Individual panels are freely available for both so a restoration project shouldn’t stall over lack of body parts although dedicated MGC bits need to come from a specialist.

Mechanically, the TR6 perhaps has the edge, as parts for the C engine aren’t so plentiful. On the other hand there’s no fuel injection to cause complications although thanks to specialist knowledge over the decades, it can be made to work efficiently and reliably and unless clapped out there’s no reason to dump it in favour of old fashioned carburettors anymore even if they may give a few more mpg; expect 20-24mpg on both driven as most classics are, with due restraint most of the time…

And The Winner Is...

Difficult one this as both cars have their merits and faults. In the end it has to come down to their character. As an out-and-out sports car the TR6 edges it by way of its more exploitable handling and a crisper engine. The MGC on the other hand is more like a hacking pony, happy to plod along and take things at its own pace – which some may well prefer – along with the more solid feel of the MG’s bodyshell. Are either a real replacement for the Healey? No! But the Triumph arguably comes the closest of the duo.

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