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Triumph Stag: Buying guide and review (1970-1977)

Triumph Stag: Buying guide and review (1970-1977) Classic and Performance Car
Triumph Stag Triumph Stag Triumph Stag
The Triumph Stag should have been a world-beater. After all, with its sharp Michelotti-penned lines, four-seater convertible configuration and V8 power, how could it fail? Here was a car that could transport the whole family – with their luggage – in top-down style. It sounded glorious and there was no shortage of go either, thanks to that torquey 3.0-litre powerplant. 
 
But as we all know, the Stag did fail, thanks to an array of build-quality issues and indifferent dealers who couldn’t fix the litany of problems that invariably cropped up when the Stag was still in its warranty period. Part of the problem was the fact quality control during production of the various components was seriously lacking. The V8 engine was also seriously underdeveloped, and failure rated in the early days was horrendous. 
 
Thankfully, things have moved on since then. Most Stags have been restored so they’re screwed together with far more care than they were the first time round. Lots of the issues that were engineered in have now been engineered out, to the point where there’s no reason to fear unreliability. Indeed, buy a restored Stag that’s had a few sympathetic upgrades and you’ll find it’s one of the most usable, affordable and enjoyable classics around. 
 
Which one to buy? 
 
All Stags are essentially the same in terms of specification; the only thing that separates them is whether they’ve got a manual or automatic transmission. Which one you go for is a matter of preference, but it’s generally the manual/overdrive cars that the market favours, although autos are more common. However, a modern four-speed automatic gearbox is a sought-after upgrade. 
 
There’s never any shortage of Stags for sale, but (predictably) the good ones are far outnumbered by average or downright shoddy examples. So you have to buy really carefully as many Stags aren’t as good as their owners think. The key is to find a car that’s been properly restored by someone who knows what they’re doing, and it’ll also have had some sympathetic modifications to improve usability and reliability. 
 
The sorts of improvements you’re looking for include an engine that’s been rebuilt and fully balanced, an electric fan (to go with an overhauled cooling system) plus electronic ignition. Re-valved steering for improved feel, ventilated discs up front and Datsun driveshafts in place of the splined originals are also worth seeking out. 
 
What you really don’t want to buy is a Stag with an engine other than the original 3.0-litre V8 – converting from a Triumph straight-six, Ford V6 or Rover V8 will cost plenty and there are lots of Stags with an original powerplant, so there’s no reason for buying anything else. 
 
There were a few unusual special-build Stags, of which very few remain. Three prototype Fastback Stags were produced, and although two of these were destroyed. That leaves one genuine fastback survivor, although you might find various home-built efforts around. Triumph also experimented with four-wheel drive, building three examples. Utilising a GKN-FF transmission, a very similar set-up the Jensen FF, the only visual clue is a bonnet bulge to accommodate the raised engine block.
 
Performance and spec 
 
Engine 2997cc, V8
Power 145bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 170lb ft @ 3500rpm
Top speed 117mph
0-60mph 10.5sec
Fuel consumption 22mpg
Gearbox Four-speed manual + overdrive (three-speed auto optional)
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2540mm
Length 4413mm
Width 1613
Height 1257
Kerb weight 1275 kg
 
Common Problems
 
• Expect corrosion in the sills, floorpans, wings and also the seams between the inner and outer wheelarches, unless the car has been restored. The welded-on wings have to be removed to properly repair the sills. Other corrosion hot spots include the bases of the A-posts and B-posts, the door bottoms, the outriggers and the leading edge of the rear wings. Most body panels are available off the shelf.
 
• Also keep your magnet handy to check the front and rear valances, the seams between the front wings and the front panel, the trailing edge of the boot lid, the boot floor, the petrol tank and all over the hard top, as it contains numerous rust traps. 
 
• Try to get a good look below the battery if possible, as rust often forms on the tray due to trapped water. Access is tight, and although replacing the battery is not a huge job, a recent replacement is a bonus. 
 
• Despite its poor reputation, the Stag’s V8 is perfectly reliable if it’s rebuilt and maintained properly. Most problems centre on the cooling system, so get the engine up to temperature and give it a thorough test drive. The waterways and radiator can get blocked up with debris if anti-freeze levels aren’t maintained, and also ensure the Torquatrol viscous-coupled engine fan works. 
 
• Worn cam followers (and their bores) can also be an issue, given away by tapping noises at idle. However, valve clearances that haven’t been set properly can also give the same symptoms; setting these properly is fiddly, so it’s sometimes allowed to slide. 
 
• Gearboxes – manual and auto – are reliable and will go for 120,000 miles between rebuilds. Worn synchromesh on second gear is the first sign of trouble on the manual gearbox, but rebuilt units are easy enough to source. 
 
• What’s harder to find is a decent clutch, so check that what’s fitted isn’t on its way out. If there’s chattering from behind the engine, which disappears when the clutch is dipped, the thrust bearing has worn. If the clutch is really stiff it’s probably because the engine and gearbox are running out of line with each other as there are no locating dowels. Modified clutch plates are available, to deal with this. 
 
• All Stags have power steering, so check for leaks. Vague steering is probably down to worn bushes in the suspension and steering rack. Particularly twitchy handling points to worn trailing arm bushes, but replacing these is easy. 
 
• Twitchiness through bends betrays binding telescopic splined joints in the drive shafts. Cleaning these and applying some CV joint grease should fix things. 
 
• The electrical system is generally reliable, although the fuel pump can stick, which prevents the engine starting. If the engine turns over but won’t fire, listen for the fuel pump whirring in the offside corner of the boot.
 
• Interiors are generally very hard wearing, and the vinyl seat covers are extremely durable. The foam seat cushions however do collapse with age, which will result in foam ‘crumbs’ appearing on the carpet. Thankfully, replacements can be bought, or even made. 
 
• Check the overall condition of the dashboard too, as the wood veneer often cracks, although this can generally be re-finished by a specialist. 
 
Model history 
 
June 1970: Stag is announced with 2997cc V8 engine and manual or automatic transmissions. 
July 1971: Stag introduced to the USA. 
October 1972: Overdrive now standard for all manual cars. 
February 1973: Stag MkII introduced with matt black tail panel and sills, plus new instruments. Wheel trims are now all silver, a hard top is standard and the rear quarter windows are deleted from the hood. 
April 1973: Alloy wheels replace wire wheels on the options list. 
July 1973: Stag withdrawn from USA. 
January 1974: Hazard and seat belt warning lights now fitted. 
March 1975: Optional air-conditioning no longer available. 
October 1975: Alloy wheels, tinted glass and laminated windscreen now standard. 
October 1976: Stronger Borg-Warner Type 65 automatic gearbox replaces previously fitted Type 35 unit. 
June 1977: Last car is built, after a production run of 25,939 units. 
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.stag.org.uk 
• www.brmmbrmm.com/trstagenth 
• www.tristagreg.org 
• www.club.triumph.org.uk 
• www.tssc.org.uk 
 
Summary and prices
 
As a stylish V8-powered cruiser, the Stag is about as good as it gets. Find a nice example to begin with, and add improvements over the winter months, and enjoy in all weathers without fear of breakdowns. The very best Stags will command over £13,000, however anything over £10,000 should be pretty well sorted. Restoration projects can still be had for around the £2000 mark, while a slightly rough runner will probably cost around £5000.
 
Words: Richard Dredge
Triumph Stag Triumph Stag Triumph Stag
Last updated: 20th Jan 2016
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Triumph Stag cars for sale

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Triumph Stag
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  • 1973 Triumph Stag

    POA POA

    Launched in 1970, the Triumph Stag was a luxury grand tourer. Envisioned as a luxury sports car, it was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL class models. All Stags were four-seater convertible coupés but, for structural rigidity and to meet new American rollover standards at the time, the Stag required a B-pillar 'roll bar' hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Triumph Stags and was later supplied as standard equipment. A new 2.5 litre, V8 engine, designed and developed by Triumph's Harry Webster, was later enlarged to 2997cc. Most Stags were fitted with a Borg Warner automatic gearbox although manual gearboxes with overdrive are available. Electric windows, power steering and power-assisted brakes were fitted as standard. Presented in unmarked green paintwork with similarly presented black trim, this automatic 1973 Stag is in fantastic order throughout. In the past 32 years, this car had covered a staggering 710 miles. Having had a comprehensive restoration completed in 1985, the then owner tragically passed away and his widow couldn't bear the thought of parting with what had been a lab

    • Year: 2017
    For sale
    Historics at Brooklands
  • Triumph Stag

    £23,990 £23,990

    A real treat to behold, we bet there aren’t many who wouldn’t agree that our Stag looks like a fresh restoration, despite having been completed in 1991 such is its exemplary condition and quality. A credit to the team at Tudor Classics of Manchester with whom more than £26,000 was invested to make this the very best available. The bodywork is very good, arrow straight and exceptionally well painted in a tasteful shade of metallic blue with what appears to be a light fleck in the paint. The interior is well trimmed in black leather, and the wood, hard-top, door cards and carpets are all in good order as well. Mechanically, the V8 engine which was meticulously rebuilt at point of restoration and performs as you would expect from such a car. It’s being mated to the manual overdrive gearbox is also an enormous positive in our opinion since we believe this enhances the driving experience considerably. The restoration was comprehensive to the very last nut and bolt and is fully detailed with receipts from Tudor Classics, however, even before this restoration it is clear from the copious documentation from pre-1991 that this was a well maintained and cared for car. This car really does need to be seen to be appreciated. Now offered with a nearly new canvas hood, hard top, and a large collection of invoices, receipts, old MOTs, plus the current valid to 5th January, 2018, inspections are welcomed at our premises in North Yorkshire.

    • Year: 1976
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
  • 1975 Triumph Stag Automatic

    £19,995 £19,995

    This outstanding low mileage Triumph Stag was supplied new by Paul Street Garage Ltd, London EC2 and supplied new to National Car Parks Limited in West London. This French Blue example spent six years in Northern Ireland before first coming to us in 2014 with a mileage of 60,000 from new. Since selling the Stag in 2014 to one of the key board members of the East Yorkshire Thoroughbred Car Club, the car has covered 4000 miles and has had almost £5000 taking the car to a truly outstanding standard. Work includes fully re-furnishing the original hard top, major engine bay detailing, annual servicing and mechanical maintenance. The Stag has now come back to us in part exchange and has to be of one the smartest, most genuine automatic Stags we have owned. This is a truly superb motor car and it will not disappoint. The car comes with its original handbook, Passport to Service book with stamped PDI, sales brochure, British Leyland warranty card and original stereo manual and wiring diagram. The car has arrived with us in exceptional order and has the most superb, straight, rust free bodyshell. The underside is outstanding, the engine bay excellent and the individual panels are all in fir

    • Year: 1975
    • Mileage: 4000 mi
    For sale
  • 1972 Triumph Stag

    POA POA

    Like the Triumph 2000 it was developed from, the Stag was styled by Italian maestro Giovanni Michelotti and featured the monocoque construction, independent suspension, disc/drum brakes, power-assisted rack, and also the pinion steering and driveline of that saloon. The power plant, though, was an all-new overhead cam, V8 of 3000cc capacity fed by a pair of Stromberg carburettors and the newcomer received a warm reception at the time of launch in 1970. Very desirable, the Stag is well supported through various clubs and specialist suppliers. First registered on the 1st May, 1972, this excellent example has the rarer and more desirable manual gearbox with overdrive. The car was completely rebuilt in 1999/2000 with the work carried out documented in a photo album. Also included is a large file containing details and invoices dating from 1980 through to today along with a V5 document, an MoT test certificate valid until February 2018. No expense has been spared to make the car a true pleasure to drive, however in the last year it has covered only 415 miles and it is thought that a change of ownership will give the car the use it deserves. With power steering, independent suspension, e

    • Year: 2017
    For sale
  • 1973 Triumph Stag

    POA POA

    1973 Triumph Stag Mk2 VIN: LE21675U This Triumph Stag is a documented one-owner example, purchased new by Byron Webb as his personal car when his dealership, Webb Motors in Roanoke, VA, was a factory authorized Triumph dealer. Originally used for touring early on, and in recent years exercised only on Sunday morning drives to church, the 40,747 miles is original and correct. The Stag has spent its entire life in Mr. Webb's climate controlled garage, or on proud display in his dealership's showroom. Maintained since new by Mr. Webb's factory trained mechanics, it presents in stunning condition. Having received meticulous, almost fanatical care and maintenance throughout its life, Mr. Webb's only changes from the original specifications were non-invasive upgrades that included a dual oil and temperature gauge in place of the original temperature gauge, a Crane XR-7000 electronic ignition, and a Rimmer Brothers radiator. Such low mileage cars, no matter how well cared for, always need a good bit of fettling to get them back up to reliable road going spec. When we acquired this car an extensive diagnostic was performed, and all the outstanding issues have been resolved. Some of the maj

    • Year: 1973
    For sale
  • TRIUMPH STAG Mark 1 Manual Over Drive 1970

    £15,000 £15,000

    This a fantasic opportunity to own a rare piece of Triumph Stag history, this is a very early vehicle, one of the oldest stags on the road and 32nd off the production line, verified by stag owners club and the chassis number, Triumph V8 with manual over drive, gleaming yellow bright work with saddle tan interior, electronic ignition, kenlow fan, hard top, three window soft top, bumpers re-chromed, tax exempt, huge history file, lots spent (receipts totaling GBP 13,000 since 1983) well maintained, full Rimmer Bros full engine at 82,000 miles, dry stored ,MOT unit August 2017, Very good condition throughout drives superbly, good investment which will only continue to rise in value. Photod with the correct original wheels, in the last piture there is a set of refurbished Stag alloys which we will happily fit for you should you desire. Any inspection welcome. Our showroom in Hinckley is open 7 days a week. Lots more photos at www.nuneatoncarsales.co.uk

    • Mileage: 126000 mi
    For sale
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