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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
14995 23990 GBP
  • 1973 Triumph Stag Mk2

    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
    Canepa
  • Triumph Stag

    POA POA

    - An important Triumph Stag being Pre-Production Car No. 9 (and the twelfth example built) - The Belgian press launch car and believed but not warranted to have covered just 98,000 miles from new - Treated to a photo documented bodywork restoration and mechanical overhaul last year - The subject of an upcoming article in 'Triumph World' magazine

    • Year: 1970
    For sale
  • Triumph Stag

    £20,000 £20,000

    Variant name:3.0 ,Variant: 3.0 Avery pretty and well cared for Triumph Stag. This car comes with a well documented history which is credit to its previous owner. Ideal for the British Summer as the car also comes with a removable hard top. Part exchange welcome and finance is available subject to status.

    • Year: 1978
    • Mileage: 67900 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
  • 1972 Triumph Stag MKI Manual Overdrive

    £14,995 £14,995

    This largely original, low mileage manual Triumph Stag offers an excellent opportunity. Firstly the car is the highly desirable MKI model, with preferred manual transmission and overdrive, and has covered just 80,000 miles from new and is still in original specification. Further to this, the car comes with a wonderful history to include original bill of sale, Triumph Motor Company Limited correspondence, MOT's back to 1980 when the car was eight years old and invoices for various work carried out over the years. BLJ 658K was purchased new by a Hotel owner in Bournemouth who actually ordered the car from Muscat's Garage Ltd, Rue d'Argens, Msida, Malta. The car was ordered in White with Black upholstery and the total price new including anti-freeze, four gallons of fuel, number plates and delivery was £1922. We have a letter dated the 8 th March 1972 from Triumph Motor Company Ltd, Export Sales Division, stating the owner could bring the car to the UK and was entitled to keep the car on a tax free basis for a maximum of twelve months and that the car will be registered for a period of twelve months on a free charge basis. The first owner kept the Stag for 20 years and covered light a

    • Year: 1972
    • Mileage: 80000 mi
    For sale
  • TRIUMPH STAG

    POA POA

    Description This 2 owner, 66,000 mile Triumph Stag is finished in its original colour of Magenta and has to be one of the finest currently available. A complete restoration with photographic record completed in 2010 shows a bare metal repaint having been carried out along with sympathetic upgrades to include a full black leather interior retrim and walnut dash. Also during this restoration a full inspection of the original engine was carried out along with polybushed and powder coated suspension, uprated brakes with drilled and grooved discs and a stainless steel exhaust system. Supplied with a Heritage Certificate detailing the factory fitted options of Overdrive, 185×14 Tyres, Heater, Inertia Reel Seatbelts, Tinted Laminated Windscreen and Hard Top, this wonderful example is ready to be driven, shown and enjoyed.

    For sale
  • 1971 Triumph Stag

    POA POA

    Description This fine example of an appreciating classic has had over £25000.00 spend on it in recent years to bring it up to a great standard, and makes it a usable desirable classic, with many great improvements. These include wind screen, tonneau cover, engine rebuild, gearbox overhaul, new tyres, many panels and parts replaced, history folder.

    • Year: 1971
    For sale
  • 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
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