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Triumph Stag

Triumph Stag Published: 17th Feb 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fast Facts

  • Best model: Drivers will prefer the manual with overdrive as it allows for relaxed cruising, despite heavyish gearchange. That said, majorit
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Anything Mercedes could do with its SL, Triumph did equally well with Stag. And thanks to continuous development, it’s a better buy than when new

WHY IT’S A WINNER

This British GT had it all back in the 1970s, save for reliability, that is. And as a result this classy Triumph earned a lousy reputation, and that damning moniker of ‘Triumph Snag’ that sadly hung around for decades. Thankfully, concentrated development by a growing army of specialists and a fantastic owners club has seen a sea change in attitudes towards this cut-price Mercedes SL. Now the Stag is viewed as a fine 2+2 GT that’s great value for money and rightly so.

HISTORY

1970 First conceived in the mid 1960s as a sporty yet cost effective take on the Triumph 2000 saloon, the Stag was finally introduced in June after a prolonged development spell. Don’t dismiss the Stag as merely a two-door 2000/2.5 Pi; it ended up a different animal, with a shorter floorpan and powered by a 3-litre V8 that never figured in any other Triumph model before, or, amazingly, since.

1972 The rest of the car was pure 2.5Pi, driven via a TR6 four-speed manual gearbox with optional overdrive (standard-fit by Oct’72), or three-speed automatic which suited the car very well.

1973 Mark II versions arrived in February featuring double coachlines along the body flanks, sills and rear panelwork in matt black, together with new wheel trims, although most cars sported alloy wheels. Mechanically, the V8 featured higher compression cylinder heads while the troublesome cooling system benefited from a tweaked radiator set up (although it made little difference in service). The interiors were amended too, with a smaller steering wheel and new instrumentation.

1975 Further modifications included stainless steel sill trims, standard fitment alloy wheels and a laminated windscreen from October – but it was all in vain as the model was discontinued in July 1977 after less than 26,000 had been made.

DRIVING

Sorted Stags are so satisfying. That slighted V8 is a gem; it may sound better than it goes (road tests when the car was new bemoaned a lack of ultimate guts) but the 145bhp is still plenty enough for modern roads. It’s no sports car mind, but more suited to long distance jaunts, especially in tall-geared overdrive mode where the legal limit is only a 2900rpm stroll and so you could easily eke out 22-23mpg while still enjoying yourself.

Handling, never that taut even when new, is actually better and more refined than a TR6, even if the car feels more like a 2000 saloon to pilot while the over-light power steering that helps make the Stag feel surprisingly modern, sadly robs the car of a sports car feel. Plus there’s a raft of mods that can turn a normal Stag into a bit of an animal.

Refinement is pretty good; that quirky T-bar ensures a strong bodyshell giving little scuttle shake while the interiors are comfortable and inviting. It’s a shame that the hard top gives off too much wind noise when fitted, but in general Stags are highly usable and civilised 2+2s with enough room for four and some luggage.

FIVE TOP FAULTS

* RUST Sills, floors, outriggers, jacking points suspension and sub-frame supports are all suspect

* COOLING Head gaskets, leaking inlet manifold, hidden air pockets etc. All can be fixed these days

* ENGINE Timing chain and tensioners, if not replaced on time, slip and wreck unit

* TRANSMISSION Check that the quill shaft housing is intact as this can break

* IMPROVEMENTS Varied and worthy but alien V8 conversions are now rightly frowned upon

Prices

Prices vary considerably. Scruffy ‘Snags’ still start from as little as £3000 but will be a veritable money pit or a badly bodged Rover V8 convert that’s best avoided. Decent examples sell between £5000- £9000, while truly nice ones now sell for £15,000 upwards from Stag specialists, which is where we’d start our Stag hunt. Alien-engined cars, once so popular, are now shunned or priced a lot less.

Stags aren’t cheap to restore at home and professionally rebuilt cars can relieve you of £20,000 with ease, meaning it’s the old MGB syndrome of why bother to revive a rough one when there are plenty of excellent cars around that you can use and enjoy right from the outset?

Verdict

Today a good, well sorted and usefully modified Stag makes a lovely classic GT and is now reliable and modern enough to be used without fear. As a cut-price alternative to a Mercedes SL you won’t find a better bet than this born again Brit.



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