Window Shopper: 1969-'76 Triumph TR6

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Photo by Tom Suddard

Why do you need a Triumph TR6? Because its timeless lines and long, successful racing history make it an icon in every sense–and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You see, this roadster is a truly practical companion.

First of all, the TR6’s inline-six engine delivers plenty of smooth, relaxed torque, something that sets it apart from many of its contemporaries. That torque partners with the capable chassis to offer great handling in the turns. Combine that with its usable trunk and comfortable seats, and this car becomes perfect for laid-back cruising on the open road–especially if it features the optional overdrive or an aftermarket five-speed box.

More selling points? A long, healthy production run of nearly 95,000 units means good cars can still be found today at a fair price: Nice drivers tend to start in the teens. That also means that when it’s time to sell, there will likely be willing buyers. In the meantime, the giant aftermarket for the TR6 should help the ownership experience go smoothly.

The TR6 has always been a popular machine–even though its origins aren’t very glamorous. It may have looked fresh for its 1969 model year release, but in reality it was an update to a tried and true formula. Its chassis basics can be traced back to the 1953 Triumph TR2, the brand’s first modern sports car, but even then it had already supported countless sedans.

The body is also something of a hand-me-down. Karmann penned a new nose and tail for the TR6, but the rest had been in service since the 1961 Triumph TR4. Same goes for the TR6’s inline-six, which first appeared in the one-year-only 1968 Triumph TR5–known in the States as the TR250.

The fact that you could call the TR6 a mix of leftovers didn’t matter one bit. The sports car public ate it up, and sales remained strong even after compression ratios dropped and bigger bumpers appeared. To date, it remains one of Triumph’s best-selling sports cars.

You can also call it the last of a breed, since the wedge-shaped TR7 replaced the TR6 for 1977. All of that wood and chrome disappeared in favor of plastic. A chapter had come to a close.

Shopping Advice

Sports Car Craftsmen’s Paul Dierschow knows all about the TR6. Shopping for one? His simple tests will help you detect issues with the car’s various systems.

Engine: With the engine off, push and release the clutch pedal. Then, with a pry bar placed between the crankshaft damper and the nearby crossmember, push the crankshaft backward into the block. The backward movement should ideally be 0.004 to 0.008 inch–barely noticeable. Engines with upward of 0.030 inch are common, but they’re savable with immediate attention. A movement of 0.125 inch indicates that the engine is a goner: Both the crank and block are most likely fatally damaged.

Transmission: If the clutch-release arm points straight down, all is well. If it points back from vertical, the bolt that holds the clutch-release bearing fork to the cross-shaft has sheared. That means the transmission must be removed for repair.

Differential Mount: With the engine running and your foot very firmly on the brake, slowly release the clutch while not allowing the car to move. Then, shift into reverse and repeat. You are listening for a sharp clunk from the differential. If you hear one, then the right-front differential mount stud has broken loose from its woefully underdesigned frame attachment.

Front Lower Control Arm Mounts: Open the hood and look down at the front corners of the engine. You’re looking for two steel boxes that are welded to the frame, right where the lower control arms mount. The boxes should be perfectly square and solid to the frame.

Rear Lower Control Arm Mounts: Look at the chassis member where each rear control arm mounts. These are very frequently rusted out and may be indicators of more serious chassis rust.

Panel Gaps: Look carefully at the seams between the body panels. The four fenders should join with a clean, seam-sealed groove. The fenders should join the rocker panels below the chrome strip in a perfectly flush fashion. Then, from the front of the car, train your eyes down the gap between the hood and fender. Continue following that line down the top of the door and down the rear fender joint. This line should reveal a gentle, consistent bulge in the middle, with each side being a perfect mirror image of the other.

Rust: Inspect the corners of the fenders. TR6’s have numerous built-in rust traps, so if rust is revealing itself on the outer panels, most likely there’s similar damage on the related inner panels. Look in the pockets above and around the headlamps and below the chrome line at the rear of the front fenders. The rear fenders are particularly vulnerable above the taillights as well as along the top and front edges of those panels.

Door Gaps: With the car on the ground, notice the gaps at the front and back of the doors relative to the adjacent fenders. The front gap should have a consistent width. The rear gap is almost never consistent on doors with original frames, but that’s not always a problem. If the gap is twice as wide at the top as it is at the bottom, it’s normal and only visually annoying. If the top gap is triple the lower width, the car’s mileage is most likely well into six digits, regardless of what the odometer says.



British Motor Trade Association

Engel Imports
(866) 467-1776

Moss Motors
(800) 667-7872

Sports Car Craftsmen
(303) 422-9272

Victoria British
(800) 255-0088

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