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V.I.S.I.T.: A 1972 Triumph TR6 Pleases all my senses

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What could be better on a winter’s day off than a stroll down to the riverside? It’s one of our favourite activities after the Christmas dust has settled, and it so happens that several of the classic car owning locals are of very much the same persuasion.

The Mistley Walls is a popular haunt in the summer months where the ice-cream vans fight for business and Andy’s superb mobile coffee dispensary is on hand for a caffeine injection, you’ll find motorists in concours convertibles mixing with bikers astride their polished steeds. But it’s rare that you see something interesting down here when there’s a risk of salt on the roads. So I was thrilled to get a chance to see, hear and smell this beautiful TR6 on bank holiday Tuesday.

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Karmann’s restyling of the TR5 was extremely successful, considering that it was just a ‘top and tail’ operation. The Triumph TR6 end product must be one of the very most handsome of all the Brit sports cars to not have a Jaguar or Aston badge.

Mechanically, there was little difference between the ‘6 and its ‘5 predecessor, with both using a Lucas fuel-injected 2.5-litre straight-six engine on the home market – the same engine as in the relatively scarce 2.5 PI saloon car. In the TR6 it was rated at 150bhp.

imag8456This black example is absolutely immaculate, and I could have easily spent ten minutes letting my eyes dart all over the Triumph and drink in its myriad details. It’s a very restrained piece of styling, but the proportions are fabulous and there’s plenty going on if you look carefully. Those deeply dished pressed steel wheels are one of the many highlights.

The TR6 has a reputation for being somewhat hairy-chested. A ‘Man’s car’. Perhaps this is because of the relatively primitive brakes (disks front, drum rear) and the way that it rather needed to be taken by the scruff of the neck to get the most out of it, but I don’t think there’s much doubt that it’s a rather meaner looking conveyance than the pointy TR7 that would follow.

When it peeled away, leaving a rich aroma of part-burnt hi-test hanging in the air, it had exactly the crackling, woofling sonic signature I expected. What a terrifically rewarding machine this must be to drive.

imag8447I’m fairly prone to flights of fantasy, and one of them is to imagine might have happened if Triumph had abandoned British Leyland and gone independent. They might have had a chance around the turn of the ’80s, when the name still meant something.  And, if wonder of wonders they had out lived Rover, what might a 21st century TR6 look like?

Well, I certainly fancy that the blocky, squat form of Triumph’s last straight-six sportster would have lent itself rather well to modernisation. Just as long as the stylist doesn’t mess with the wheels.

(All images Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2017)

  • outback_ute

    No wonder they are ‘everywhere’, 94,619 were built. A really classic style, and as you say one of the most successful facelifts ever. Mind you its success was possibly part of the problem with BL, or at least a symptom. If a properly new car was released instead of a re-hash of the old TR, they might have been even more successful and it might have avoided or changed the TR7. Mind you I am not too well versed in the relative high-points of the BL cash flow, although I suspect this simply wasn’t possible at the time.

    Also the deep dish wheels on this car look a bit wider than original.

  • “…Lucas fuel-injected….”

    Sorcery! Witchcraft! Deviltry! Isolationism! Free silver!

    • LeaksOil

      In the US of A we got carb’d versions only (as far as I know, correct me if I’m wrong).

      So I imagine in other countries it wouldn’t be hard to convert them using OEM or possibly aftermarket parts.

      • I think that’s correct, but the only TR6 I’ve ever driven had been converted to Buick V6 power, making it a less than representative example.

      • dukeisduke

        Yes, we didn’t get the injected version in the US. I still see one every once in awhile, usually in BRG. The only thing this one is missing is the redline tires.

    • LeaksOil

      Also, free silver? I don’t get that one?

      • The whole line is a progressively absurd quote from “Bored of the Rings” although the reference to isolationism admittedly has some bearing in this context. The Free Silver Movement, less so.

      • Wayne Moyer

        I only bumped into the term recently looking up presidents of the late nineteenth century. This is what happens when you have a daugher who is really into history.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Party

    • Agree 100%. I accidentally touched the thumbs down arrow or whatever you call it – damn these thick fingers and sensitive touch screen! Mea culpa, doctor.

  • Van_Sarockin

    A last gasp for the cutting edge of the 1950’s. Well, actually, not even that. But a fun little runabout. If Triumph and BL had done their jobs, there never would have been a need for the Miata.

    • outback_ute

      How about if they had used the 1964 Fury as a basis for the TR4/5 replacement? Apparently the sticking point was it would have cost more to tool up for, being a unitary car.

      • Van_Sarockin

        Plymouth Fury? A unibody would possibly have improved on the very floppy chassis. British industry suffered generally from insufficient modernization, milking old, outdated technology, and belng leapfrogged by competitors. It’s a shame, because British design, engineering and workforce were easily the equal of other nations.

  • Fred Talmadge

    What I remember that made them “manly” was the heavy steering and slow gear box. The lack of traction from those Michelin X tires and the flexible chassis made it handful. I rebuilt the motor twice because I couldn’t figure out how to keep the thrust washers in place. I also did a lot of research to get the smog controls working on it (1971 USA) When the guy wouldn’t pass it I looked at his book and he was looking at a Spitfire. All his diagrams were for different models. He finally just hooked it up and it passed. I sold it to help pay for my first house, but used the money to buy my first new car instead. It took a deal on a Lotus Elan to get me back into British sport cars.

  • LeaksOil

    Love these! I learned to drive a manual on a family friend’s Triumph TR7 before I even had my learners. He later allowed me to drive his TR6. Absolutely loved that thing.

    Always wanted one ever since.

    Still want one.

    (And yes he is from England).

  • NapoleonSolo

    The back of the car is fine. They should have left the front more or less as it was.

  • A local design firm has done a take on what a modern day Triumph might look like. We’re going to be helping them get the prototype finished.

    http://zukun.com/projects/zukun-plan-trz/

    http://www.zukun.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/TRZ-Body-5-1024×693.jpg

    • CraigSu

      That hearse from their Projects page looks much more sleek in black/dark grey than it does in white.
      http://www.zukun.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/SVG-Renaissance-Header-1.jpg

      • Van_Sarockin

        The more I look, the goofier it is. The roof to cap transition shouldn’t be so kludgy. And what is that accent band doing? The cap and the windows are entirely unrelated. I wouldn’t be caught dead in it.

    • outback_ute

      Interesting. Definitely more TR2 inspiration than TR6 (which had a lot more comforts built in). Don’t like the curved frame though, Ariel has a lot to answer for…

      • The owner has a TR3, so it makes sense.

        The curved tube chassis looks better in person than in the images.

        • outback_ute

          My objection to the curved tubes is from an engineering viewpoint! Also safety – these sort of cars are marginal enough there already, without curved tubes just waiting to buckle in an impact.

  • Alff

    The redesigned front pales in comparison to the car it intends to mimic … the remarkable Lightburn Zeta Sports.

  • Lokki

    I have always loved the look of the TR6; I still vividly remember the first one I saw on the street years ago. It fit perfectly into the muscle car vibe of the time somehow with those big tires and stubby overhangs, and the bark of the exhaust. Driving one for the first time was good too; the torquey six felt quick and the heavy steering felt manly. I wish we’d gotten the 150 HP FI engine here in the states… ours were something like 105 HP. With 150 HP, FI, and some updates to the suspension, the TR6 could have ruled the world. Ah, well, what might have been.

    I have to say though, that I hated the TR7 as much as I loved the TR6.

    • Despite pop-up headlights. I concur- though with less actual hatred.

    • Van_Sarockin

      I still want a TR-8 convertible – it’s the shape of things to come, and it’s the only thing that will fit in my cheese slice garage.