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Triumph GT6

Triumph GT6 Published: 8th Aug 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph GT6
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A Herald in hotter clothes, the Spitfire and the GT6 spin-off may be, but what’s so wrong in that as a recipe for cheap and cheerful thrills? As a starter classic these Triumphs are unbeatable and, on the move, are a lot smoother and more comfortable than their rival MGs – and usually cheaper, too.

Driving

As the Herald, but more so due to the added power, the handling has always been a contentious subject due to that infamous rear suspension design, highlighted more on the faster GT6s.

Pre-1970 models could be particularly wicked handlers and it was only with the advent of the MkIV Spitfire that the design was properly sorted although many earlier cars were so converted and modified over the years. Spitfires are no better than lively but the engines are highly tunable if you want more pep. The 1500 is generally disliked but it’s not as bad as it’s painted out to be, say specialists. The GT6 is a fair bit swifter although is best as a relaxing tourer – more so if overdrive is fitted – for two. You may find a model with the ultra rare (and pretty useless) optional rear seat, however. Sadly, the GT6 was never made into convertible for fear of hurting TR sales (although many homespun conversions have been carried out). But with a fabric sunroof you have the best of both worlds!

Best models

Early cars are for the purists and very few will have not had their rear ends rectified. The best Spitfire is generally accepted to be the 1296cc Mk3 and early MkVs with the MkIV1500 the least liked although it is the best for touring. The GT6 really came into its own during the Mk3 (1970-73).

Values

Even top Spitfires rarely break the £10,000 barrier although GT6s are starting to widen the price gap – a top Mk1 and Mk2 can make almost £15,000 although these are the exceptions and £7000 is a common figure for both models. Their inherent lowly residual values mean you need to carefully evaluate poor examples, no matter how cheap, as restorations usually outweigh any up front savings. Projects can start from a grand however if you fancy having a go – they’re delightfully straightforward to work on.

Buying advice

Meccano-like construction means repairs are DIY doable and new chassis frames can be obtained if too much rust or past repairs have been carried out. The rear bulkhead, where the fuel tank resides, is a huge rust area and the first place to check Spitfires. If it’s no good here then the car probably is not worth saving.

Check the chassis for rust and past repairs. The (three-part) sills are critical. MkIVs hide rust behind the front bumper. Even if ok, check floors, bulkhead and toe-boards, bottom of doors, rear arches, seat belt points and the rear valance panel. GT6s also suffer rust around the roof near the top of the windscreen.

While easy to access, the front suspension is troublesome. Lack of maintenance is the main culprit, causing the trunnions to fail along with the ball joints, drop links and front wishbones bushes.

Engines usually robust although later 1500cc (a stretched 1296cc) is prone to bearing wear on number three cylinder; many experts recommend replacing crank shells every 30,000 miles. Another wellknown Triumph trouble point is worn crank thrust washers (watch for lengthy clutch travel) and, if the end float is excessive an engine strip down to replace them is the only real cure.



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