50 Years of Triumph Stag

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

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70 years of Triumph Stag 70 years of Triumph Stag

The Stag endured hurdles throughout development, launch, and life – yet remains a popular and impassioned classic

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The Triumph Stag is a mainstay in British classic cars, buoyed an immensely passionate enthusiast base after a life that seemingly had everything going against the it.

Partnering with Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti – who had also had his hands in the Triumph Herald, Spitfire, Dolomite, 2500 and TR4/5 – the new Stag was intended to be an upmarket sports tourer, in similar ethos to the Mercedes-Benz SL.

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Originally intended to launch in 1968, development was hampered due to a variety of reasons, chief of which were budget constraints following the merger between Leyland Motors and B.M.H to form British Leyland in 1968.

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The pivotal choice of powerplant would prove to be a sore point for the car. The Stag was originally tested in development with the existing Triumph 2000’s fuel-injected straight-six, although Spen King (Director of Engineering) sought more power and torque. The Stag eventually ended up with a specially-developed 3.0lt V8, which was essentially two banks of the Triumph slant-four, and reverting back to carburettors instead of fuel-injection.

The car would launch in 1970 to wide acclaim. As a stylish four-seater convertible with independent suspension all round, servo-assisted disc/drum brakes, power steering and electric windows as standard – the car was quite advanced on paper.

Unfortunately, the Triumph V8 was soon found to be the root of various inherent mechanical issues. Slow sales also meant that Triumph workshops weren’t that familiar with the troublesome mechanicals. The oil crisis of the early 70s was its death knell in the US market (withdrawing in 1973), while its new-car reputation – and any sales charts ambitions Triumph may have had – were left in tatters.

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Despite its many foibles when new, the Stag has taken on a second life as a classic with an extremely enthusiastic owner base who continue to keep these cars on the road despite their slow sales and comparatively low production numbers.

Some replaced the troublesome engine entirely with a Rover V8 or that of a Leyland P76, although 50 years of inventive fixes have seen surviving Stags turned into reliable and attractive recreational weekender. Long may it be so.

 

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