SOLD for £15,750
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“It is very much a masculine machine, calling for beefy muscles, bold decisions, and even ruthlessness on occasion. It could be dubbed the last real sports car.”Autocar. 17th April 1969.
Into the ‘export at all costs’ post-war sports car market the Standard Motor Company launched the immediately successful Triumph TR2 in 1953 (the “TR1” having been labelled a ‘death trap’ by its development engineer), which morphed pretty seamlessly into the TR3 just two years later. Well engineered with good performance they were visually very similar if a little ‘pre-war’ perhaps with bodywork showing the remnants of the separate wings that the market was inexorably evolving away from. Without the spare capital to develop a replacement, the TR3 batted on like a stubborn tail-end batsman for the next seven years, earning valuable foreign currency particularly from the USA. Come 1961 the corporate coffers had recovered sufficiently to facilitate the launch of the next generation TR, not surprisingly (or that imaginatively) titled the TR4. The tried and tested running gear hung off an effective separate chassis was for the most part left well alone though the introduction of rack and pinion steering was a significant dynamic step forward. The available cash was instead splashed on the area most needing attention, namely updating the TR’s looks and incorporating such by then ‘must haves’ as wind-up windows as opposed to separate side screens. To this end Triumph, as they had been for all their new models since the Herald of 1959, turned south-southeast to the styling house of one Giovanni Michelotti. Dressed in its sharp new Italian threads, the TR4, despite its rather more staid homespun M&S underwear, proved to be just the ticket for the 1960’s sports car market. Come 1967 it was the oily bits’ turn for some attention and the biggest step forward yet for the TR family; the introduction of Triumph’s smooth as silk 2.5 litre ‘six’ to the engine bay of the TR5. A year later the development wheel turned once again to the TR’s styling and German house Karmann were tasked with bringing the TR up to date (without wholesale alterations to the body tooling) with subtly sharpened edges and the aerodynamic must have Kamm-tail of the TR6.
The British Motor Industry Heritage Certificate on file shows this fine example of what many maintain is the last proper TR, rolled off the production line on 26th January 1973 as a right hand drive, fuel injected (i.e. full UK specification) example destined for the export market. Finished in Mimosa Yellow with black Ambla trim and matching hood, it left the UK bound for Metro-Dodwell Motors Ltd in Hong Kong on 6th March 1973. The file also reveals that eight years and one owner later it was still in the British Dependent Territory and owned by a Mr Stephen Freeman. In 1982, less than ten years since leaving, it returned to England and was duly registered with the DVLA on 16th August as EKB 935Y, with the apparently brand new ‘Y’ registered TR6 doubtless rubbing further salt into the wounds of TR7 owners wishing they could turn back the clock… It is also documented that in September 1989 the Triumph was owned by a Mr Geoffrey Faulkner of Ashford and that it by then sported fiberglass wings.
At the turn of the millennium while in the custodianship of a Mr Brian Plunket, ECEE Auto Body Repairs of Camberley carried out an extensive bodywork restoration on the TR, attending to every external panel, fitting replacement used steel wings and repainting the Triumph in its original Mimosa Yellow. Come 2007 a very comprehensive engine rebuild was carried out by TR specialists CTM Engineering near Southampton, at a cost of some £3,500. The block was bored and new pistons, oil pump, timing chain, cam followers and so on were fitted. The crankshaft was reground to -.010 on both the main and big end journals and an unleaded cylinder head was installed along with associated new valve springs while a new clutch assembly was also fitted.
Refinished in 2014, today the Mimosa paint – is there a better choice for a TR6? – is still very good. With a great shine and depth to it there are no significant blemishes except a few slight cracks on the trailing edge of the boot lid where pressure is sometimes exerted when closing it and these are shown in the photo gallery. The black Moss-supplied fabric hood, though apparently 20 years old, is just a little dusty and a quick clean would likely render it factory fresh. This along with the very period ‘Aleybars’ type trimmed roll bar, black Kamm tail back panel and expertly applied black pin-striping with TR6 decals, set the joyous shade of paint off superbly.
Talking of bright, sparkly things, the chrome-work is generally good throughout. There is some light marking to the passenger door handle and rear light plinths but the ‘bullet’ door mirrors, bumpers, wheel trims and TR6 logoed centre caps are all good or very good. The wheels themselves – surely the best steel wheel design along with 105 series Alfas and Lotus Elans – display just a couple of paint chips. While we are nitpicking, the TR6 grill badge is slightly dented and there is a crack in one rear light lens, (please see the photo gallery).
Panel fit, while not likely to worry the chaps at Bentley unduly, is really pretty good for a separate chassis car. The gaps are not Rizla-tight but they are fairly even and the various components align nicely. The Triumph sits really well on its relatively tall and narrow Factory-correct 165 tyres and it seems to have less negative camber on the rear wheels than some we have encountered; hard to put your finger on it but it just has the right ‘stance’ in our eyes. Speaking of tyres, currently a couple of Michelin XAS’ as fitted by Triumph themselves are paired with a mix of brands so a quick win might be to spring for two more of the French company’s excellent black ‘n rounds though all have tread to burn so to speak.
The boot and cockpit carpet look virtually new but the Millboard boot liner has lost its finish in places; at under £40 for the whole boot kit, it’s the very definition of a potential cost effective improvement. The seats are trimmed in beautiful black leather with perforated centre sections and they are just in the sweet spot being nicely used with the lightest of characterful creasing. A slight nick in the piping on the driver’s side seat is the only blemish we could spot. The satin finish wood dash strikes just the right balance between luxury and ‘bling’ and it sports a full set of Smiths dials of which the generously sized speedo and tachometer are easily viewed through the spokes of the lovely leather rimmed steering wheel. The eagle-eyed amongst you might have spotted the oil pressure gauge, while still a Smiths unit, is of a slightly different design and not original to a TR6. Continuing the fault finding mission, there is a crack in the driver’s side lower dash trim as illustrated in the photo gallery.
The engine was removed and detailed in 2014 while the TR was repainted and the opportunity to fit new core plugs and a Borg and Beck clutch assembly was taken. Today the engine bay is very smart indeed with everything looking neat and tidy with an excellent finish to both the body colour panels and mechanical components. An aluminium ‘Triumphtune’ rocker cover and stainless steel shroud for the radiator are both marked aesthetic improvements over the standard items.
More recently a new fuel metering unit, injectors, Bosch type fuel pump and fuel filter have been fitted to address a notorious TR6 problem area, namely the fuel injection system. Fresh coolant hoses, flame thrower coil and heavy duty Bosch battery all smack of a considered approach to ensuring the Triumph is in the best of health while giving the impression of a car that has been well looked after and can be used with confidence.
On the lift the underside of the TR looks to be in fine condition with the excellent chassis and all important outriggers displaying just one very small repair which seems to have been expertly carried out. There is a good but not excessive coat of protective finish which seems sound throughout with no areas of flaking. The gearbox and differential are best described as ‘moist’ but there are no significant fluid drips. New brake callipers, wheel cylinders and Aeroquip lines have apparently been fitted recently along with uprated differential mounts while a Falcon twin-pipe stainless steel exhaust is present and in good condition.
Typical of the Lucas fuel injection set up, a decent amount of choke is required to bring the engine to life on a chilly spring morning. The work on the fuel system has clearly paid dividends and it fires easily and soon settles into an even idle with the oil pressure showing an impressive 80 PSI even at just 800 RPM. The clutch definitely has some weight to it but it is smooth and easily modulated. All the gears engage smoothly and mechanically the Triumph seems to reflect the obvious care and attention that has been lavished on it.
A large and extensive history file (in matching yellow) accompanies the Triumph and contains an impressive number of receipts from the likely suspects such as TR Bitz, Moss and Rimmers. Covering the last twenty plus years, these detail both mechanical and trim items such as shock absorbers, the stainless steel exhaust, seats and hood. The aforementioned body and engine rebuilds are also documented in some detail. Multiple MOT certificates dating back to 1990 are also present and confirm that by the mid-noughties, the correct age-related, ‘L’ suffix registration number had been assigned to the TR by the DVLA. They also show that at about the time of the engine rebuild, the odometer was reset to zero indicating that approximately 11,000 miles have been covered since then. A collection of expired tax discs indicate consistent use of the Triumph over the last twenty years.
Tellingly an invoice on file shows the most recent private owner of the TR purchased it in 2017, paying some £22,500 for it; suffice it to say the very competitive reserve it carries for this auction would allow it to be bought for just two thirds of this figure.
At half the price of the mechanically identical TR5 and honed looks that are just starting to find favour, the TR6 looks to us to be almost criminally under-valued and with more than 90% of production to left hand drive specification, we feel this example represents a rare opportunity.