1976 TRIUMPH TR6 Cabriolet

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1976 TRIUMPH TR6 Cabriolet

Background

In the late 1960s, the accepted look for European sports cars was still very much based on the curve rather than the straight line.

Triumph’s 1968 decision to launch its square-jawed TR6 against curvy and lithe opposition like the Alfa Spider, Lotus Elan and MGB was therefore not only bold but also somewhat risky, especially as it came hard on the heels of the flawed and extremely short-lived (just 13 months) TR5 that preceded it.

What the Michelotti-styled, Karmann-modded TR6 had in its favour, however, was a decent chassis – front anti-roll bar, rack and pinion steering, semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension, and front disc brakes – and a strong reputation for brawny, macho performance that went right back to the first TR2 of 1953.

That reputation was raised a notch in 1967 by the TR4’s adoption of a 2.5-litre version of the Triumph 2000 saloon’s characterful straight six engine.

The engine was carried through to the TR6 via the ill-fated TR5, which featured (Triumph claimed) the first petrol injection system in a British production car. Most of the problems of the hurriedly launched and equally hurriedly withdrawn TR5 were largely sorted in the TR6, but the fuel injection system on the 150bhp UK TR6s (American spec cars had twin Stromberg carbs and 104bhp) continued to be the car’s Achilles heel, unfairly encumbered as it was by a poorly-performing Lucas fuel pump.

Over time, most TR6 owners replaced that Lucas pump with the far superior Bosch unit which gave the car the combination of power and reliability it deserved.

From 1968 to 1976 the 6’s relative mechanical age didn't seem to deter buyers. More than 94,000 of them were built over the car’s seven-year production history, the overwhelming majority of them for overseas markets.

The TR6 was the last of the separate chassis TRs. By 1976, car magazine road testers who were keen to usher in what they saw as an exciting new era of monocoque sports cars were running out of faint praise with which to damn the doughty Triumph.

Perhaps they should have been careful what they were wishing for, because the wedge-shaped American-designed TR7 that replaced it in 1976 in no way continued the TR’s brawny heritage.

If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, hard-charging convertible sports car that could be maintained by a reasonably dexterous gibbon with an adjustable spanner, then the TR6 might well be just the thing for you.

With a 0-60mph time of just over eight seconds and a top speed of 120mph, the TR6 is fast enough for most people, and well-maintained examples make for drivable, usable, rewarding everyday cars.

The Vehicle

Unsurprisingly, there is a story behind the extremely low mileage of this TR6, but it’s quite a long and convoluted one so strap in and read on.

According to British Motor Industry Heritage Trust records, this car rolled off the Coventry production line at the very end of July 1974 with a 125 bhp fuel-injected motor and the optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive. Then inexplicably (but apparently not unusually) it got lost in the system and lay forgotten.

Henly’s of Coventry eventually discovered it in a Leyland Motors’ compound and subsequently sold it to a Mr Christie of Leamington Spa, registering it to him on 24 March 1977. For reasons unknown, however, Mr Christie decided not to take delivery of the car and it remained at the dealer.

Owner number two, Mr Whewell of Knutsford who was a serial TR6 driver, visited the showroom soon after, apparently looking for a TR7. Seeing the mint TR6 he decided to buy it to replace his current TR6. Before he finalised the deal though, he changed jobs and was given a company car, but decided to buy it anyway if they would repaint it red for him. They only painted the outer panels (not the door shuts) as he wanted it only as - in his words - “an objet d’art” for looking at. It then spent the next 20 years in either his garage or in storage during which time it barely turned a wheel.

In April 2000 - having been serviced, recommissioned, converted to unleaded fuel and repainted white by specialist TR Bitz also of Knutsford - who had looked after the car for 15 years - it was sold at auction with a recorded mileage of 766.

Four years later, a Mr Nuttall of Gravesend acquired the car and continued to put a few miles on it during his 10 years ownership, taking part in such events as the 2010 London to Brighton Classic Car Run.

Oxfordshire specialist sports car dealer Nick Dove then tried to acquire the car for our vendor at auction in August 2014 at a recorded 2,000 miles but missed out. The successful bidder didn’t register the car - possibly he was a part-time dealer - but added 500 miles or so to the mileage before Nick Dove managed to acquire it from him in mid-2017. He had it checked over and prepared for sale by the Simply Project Shop and DS Automotives and then sold it to our vendor, the car’s fifth registered keeper.

He bought the car chiefly because it looked all but identical to a TR6 he’d enjoyed as his daily driver back in the late ‘70s, and he wanted his family to experience the same thrill of driving it that he had. However, to preserve its low mileage, he has only added around 300 miles to the occasional show and up and down the track where he stores it.

The odometer now sits at an amazingly low, but genuine 2,925 miles and it is this that is driving the sale. He wants a car just like this TR6 but one that he can happily add 10,000 miles to without affecting the value.

At both its 2000 and 2014 auction sales, this time-warp TR6 attracted the attention of the motoring press - as indeed it has this time - and the history file includes a few cuttings from Classic Car Weekly and Classic Cars magazine. Google the registration number and you’ll also find an online report from Honest John.

On the Outside

The car’s bodywork and paint is in a great condition with barely any blemishes or defects - the outside has been painted twice (to red and back to white) but nothing has been done by way of a strip-down restoration - why would you need to?

Paint aside then, this car is in a pretty original condition, much as it left the factory. That is a good thing and a bad thing given mid-70s Leyland’s quality control but as they say, it can only be original once.

The chrome trims around the car are in reasonable order with no obvious damage and just light pitting in places and the odd tiny patch of bubbling. The original vinyl hood appears in very good condition with plenty of wrinkles but no damage or marks of any significance. The cover securing it when folded looks in fine fettle too, as does the tonneau with the centre zip if you choose to leave the hood at home.

The Triumph sits on its original 15-inch steel wheels with period-correct grey plastic centre trims and TR6 badges. All look in good order and are shod with Firestone F-560 tyres.

On the Inside

The interior is upholstered in black Ambla - a vinyl faux leather - and like the exterior is in a pretty immaculate condition. The horizontal stitching and diamond embossed pattern on the seat facings give the cockpit a very sporting look - with factory headrests adding a touch of modernity. The seatbelts are of the factory-fitted fixed type.

The dashboard is finished in the rather plain horizontal-grained wood veneer popular in the mid-seventies - but it looks correct and “of its time”, contrasting with the black gauges, dashtop and trim. Despite being fitted with an aerial, there is no radio in the car. The vendor reports that what equipment is installed, should all be working as expected.

The passenger door pocket contains a handful of car show rosettes - understandable for such a uniquely preserved car - although our vendor modestly says they were mostly for just turning up.

Underfoot, the carpets and floor mats are in very good condition, again with no apparent damage and very little wear.

Underneath

Under the bonnet is an engine bay that can’t look too different to the day it (nearly) left the Canley factory. Everything looks clean, tidy and just right with no apparent rust around the compartment or under the bonnet lid itself.

It will come as no surprise that the undersides of the car are in fine order too. The floor panels and structures were given the full waxoyl treatment around 5 years ago, covering all the vulnerable surfaces and also getting inside the box sections. Consequently there is very little in the way of rust - the only patches we could see were around a couple of the chassis outriggers where maybe a less thorough coating of waxoyl was applied. The exhaust is new and looks like stainless steel but was made to the original pattern.

Inside the boot, the carpets and linings are clean and tidy and underneath the floorboard is a full size spare wheel, jack and tool roll. Also coming with the car is a fitted indoor cover.

History Highlights

The car’s last MOT expired in September 2018. As an historic vehicle it is not required to have one but owners are still responsible for ensuring it is kept in a roadworthy condition.

The current owner got his local garage to fetch it out of storage last month and go through the car, checking and replacing parts as required to MOT standards. A total of £1,800 was spent to ensure its roadworthiness.

The history file includes numerous expired MOT reports which validate the slow progression of mileage, and several invoices for servicing and repair. It also has its original Triumph TR6 handbook and “Passport to Service” booklet. The latter carrying the stamp of Henly’s of Coventry for its PDI and a pre-stamped free 1000-mile service offer - which presumably wasn’t valid 25 years later when the car would have reached that milestone!

Significant work on the car in recent ownership includes:

Sep 2017 - full waxoyl, brake master cylinder, wheel refurb - Simpy Project Shop, Oxfordshire

Sep 2017 - service, front brake discs, callipers and pads - DS Automotives, Aylesbury

May 2022 - health check Village Garage, East Grinstead

What We Think

It’s not often you get to buy a 48 year old car that is barely run in, let alone a relatively affordable model that was both plentiful and sought after when new. This example wants for nothing - just someone to resist the urge to drive it too often.

Spend some time to scrutinise the detailed photos in the gallery, look hard for anything that isn’t as it should be. There won’t be much of a list when you’ve finished but if there is anything you’d like to clarify, use the Contact Seller option to ask a question.

We think this ultra-low mileage and very original TR6 in great condition will sell for between £50,000 and £60,000. That’s strong money but where can you find another like it? This one will doubtless find its way into a collection to be admired but used only sparingly for the odd car show.

With usable everyday TR6s selling for £10-20k, you’ve got to be a special kind of enthusiast to part with three to four times as much cash for one that you can’t afford to drive. But thank goodness such people exist to help preserve and care for our motoring heritage in the way that this TR6’s successive custodians have done.

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions.’

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage options plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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Seller

harryh

  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 2,950
  • Chassis Number: N/ASVK
  • Engine: 2500
  • Gearbox: manual
  • Steering position: RHD
  • Colour: White
  • Interior: Black Vinyl
  • Estimated Price: £50,000 - £60,000

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