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Triumph Stag

Triumph Stag Published: 27th Aug 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph Stag
Triumph Stag
Triumph Stag
Triumph Stag
Triumph Stag
Triumph Stag
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This V8 2+2 convertible Triumph is a lot of inexpensive fun. If you buy well

I’VE SEEN QUITE A FEW STAGS SELLING CHEAP – ARE THEY STILL KNOWN AS SNAGS?

No! Okay, they were notorious for breaking down (that sweet sounding V8 engine usually) but this is now history thanks to an army of specialists and enthusiastic owners who came together to develop the car into what it should have been all along.

SO WHY ARE THEY STILL CHEAP THEN?

We’ll it’s not due to a dodgy reputation anymore – more because there’s a good number remaining although not all are in good condition.

SO WHAT WOULD £6000 GET ME?

Not the best, that’s for sure as good cars can now make five figures and let’s talk £15K for something really nice. Indeed, one specialist had a genuine low mileage untouched showroom fresh example on sale at £27,000 recently. Somewhat cheaper was a ‘76 manual overdrive (the desired spec) with genuine miles that sold at last month’s Historics at Brooklands for £15,680. That said, six grand should get you a decent solid car worth persevering with if you look around, but it will probably be an automatic because the vast majority were. Or feature a different engine.

LIKE THE ROVER V8?

Yes, that was the most popular conversion but some cars also employed the Ford Capri V6 and Triumph’s own straight six, which given that the Stag was basically a restyled 2.5Pi you’d expect it to be a simple drop in – but it isn’t!

ROVER-ENGINED STAGS ARE OK, RIGHT?

Generally yes but it depends who carried out the conversion as some kerbside converts are a bit dodgy.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

The Rover V8 fits okay (after all, everybody wondered why did BL waste so much time and effort with a Triumph unit when its Rover engine was the ideal choice!), it’s more sorting out the suspension that most converters overlooked or couldn’t be bothered with. The Rover unit, despite being of alloy construction, is some 75lb the heavier so the front springs and dampers needed altering or the handling was ruined, sometimes to dangerous levels at high speed.

IT CAN BE SORTED OUT THOUGH, CAN’T IT?

Oh yes, any good Stag specialist can sort out the suspension and a Rover- Stag still makes for a very nice car plus that V8 possesses enormous reserves of untapped power. However, because the Triumph unit has now been made pretty reliable, the trend is to put cars back to standard spec; consequently an alien-engined Stag can be worth up to 25 per cent less – so there’s one way to buy a cheap Stag if you don’t mind the engine used.

THEN I CAN CONVERT IT BACK TO STANDARD!

You could, but well known Stag specialist EJ Ward says bank on £5000 to do it as the factory intended. The company has this to say about so-called bargain Stags, too: “Because you’re likely to be buying a restoration project if you buy a £6000 Stag, you could be better off buying a £1500 car instead, as both will probably need a complete rebuild anyway. If you do buy a project, make sure it’s as original as possible; putting right somebody else’s bodged restoration is likely to be even more painful and costly than just overhauling a very tatty original car”, it warns.

Ward adds, “Of course, there are bargains out there; not all £7000 Stags are heaps, but at this level most are riddled with filler and mechanical issues. So while many £7000 Stags have an MoT, if you take the long-term view, buying a car at this level will ultimately cost you a lot more than buying a £12,000 example”.

WISE WORDS – ANY OTHER PROBLEMS?

Rust is the main worry and it can be extremely expensive to rectify, as our specialist earlier remarked! Check the sills, floorpans, wings and seams between the inner and outer wheelarches. Fancy cover sills are sometimes fitted; they’re a bodge and not to be confused with stainless steel decorative oversills! Replacing rusty sills properly means removing the front wings, which are welded on, or cutting the bottom of the wing off – expensive!

Also check the base of the A-post, which rots out after filling up with water that’s drained from the guttering on the side of the windscreen pillar. Repairing the A-pillar base is pretty tricky as even with the front wing removed it’s not very accessible and it’s easy to tell a DIY repair.

IS THAT IT?

Sadly no. The base of the B-post can also rot badly, and this is also an awkward area to repair properly… Underneath the car are two outriggers on each side; those at the front rot first, with the corrosion soon spreading to the sills and the rest of the floorpan. Thankfully, the rest is mostly cosmetic but there’s plenty of it so be warned!

SHOULD I STILL BE WARY OF THAT TRIUMPH ENGINE?

Yes because not all have been sorted. Go for a brisk 10 mile drive, watching the temperature gauge. The needle should settle at the half-way mark – much higher or lower signals trouble. If the engine isn’t getting warm, then the owner has probably removed the thermostat – an old dodge dating back 40 years! Although the radiator is usually blamed for the overheating problems, it’s generally the cylinder head castings at fault; you can buy new ones – for some £2000!

WILL USING NEAT ANTI-FREEZE HELP?

It’s essential that the cooling system is flushed out annually and that the correct level of anti-freeze is maintained in the system. Some recommend as much as a 70 per cent mix but that’s the limit or it will create its own problems. An alternative is to use Evans’ Waterless Coolant as this special fluid can’t boil like water and greatly helps but it will cost around £100 a fill but it is everlasting.

JUST OVERHEATING OR IS THERE MORE?

No, the other Stag snag concerned those long, long timing chains and their tensioners wearing causing them to slip invariably with ruinous results. The tensioners are actually a service item that need to be replaced every 25,000 miles. While cruising at 3000rpm expect to see 30-40psi, with at least 10psi at tickover.

ANY OTHER PROBS?

Just general wear and decay really. Transmissions can play up with worn synchros although overdrive ills are usually only electrical. Check the ‘quill shaft’ assembly however as it can tear away from the rear axle assembly.

CAN I HAVE SOME GOOD NEWS PLEASE!

“A good Stag is cheap to own, cheap to run and will be reliable in service – the key is to buy a car that really is good, rather than one which just appears to be”, says Ward. And believe us, a good one makes for delightful 2+2 GT that’s almost equal to a Mercedes SL in our view. They drive well, are roomy, comfortable and you have the choice of both a soft top and a hard top for winter use. Stags are quite friendly animals if cared for. Parts supply is generally excellent with new components and panels frequently being remade and if you like DIY work you’ll find the Stag an easy enough car to work on, too.

WHAT ARE THE BEST MODELS TO BUY?

There’s not a great deal of difference between the original cars and the Mk2 of 1973 as the changes were mostly detail, although there were some mods made to the cooling system which helped a little but always opt for the latest thinking from a specialist if you want a permanent cure. Manual Prices are rising, so buy while good value with overdrive is the most desired transmission because the tall gearing really makes cruising a lot more restful. Having said that, the majority are automatic and it suits the car’s character well plus, along with PAS, makes it easy for everybody to drive while a late Jag XJ-S gearbox adds a welcome extra ratio.

On the subject of gearing, don’t be surprised to find the wrong axle fitted as Stag ones are now quite scarce. This is why some owners fit a Triumph 2000 (with 4:1 ratio) or 2.5PI (with 3.45:1 ratio) unit. Stags should run a 3.6:1, although BMW units are now being fitted as they stronger and come with a wider variety of ratios.

THANKS FOR THE ADVICE. I’LL BUY ONE WITH MY EYES OPEN

Why not speak to a Stag specialist first and join the Stag Owners’ Club; it’s one of the best around and you’ll be overwhelmed with help and advice from all quarters. Who knows, a member may know of an ideal car for you and your budget. Happy Stag hunting!

 



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