Triumph Stag

From Academic Kids

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Triumph Stag
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1977 Triumph Stag Mark 2
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Triumph Stag
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1975 Triumph Stag

The Triumph Stag was a car sold between 1970 and 1977 by the British Triumph Motor Company. It featured sharp styling by the Italian designer Michelotti.

Not quite a sports car, the Stag was more of a gentleman's sports tourer, somewhat like a Mercedes-Benz SL class or a British Ford Thunderbird. All Stags were four-seater convertible coupés; for structural rigidity, 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 Stag.

The car was developed from the Triumph 2000, but ended up having little in common with its progenitor, or indeed any other Triumph or British Leyland vehicle. Internal politics meant that Triumph were initially unable to use the proven Rover V8 and so they had to develop their own. This was basically two Triumph 1500 engines 'stuck' together. It consisted of a single overhead cam cast iron block with aluminum heads.

The engine family also contained a 4 cylinder unit which was initially used in the Saab 99. This used a gear driven water pump so that it could be easily installed in a front wheel drive car. This feature was also used in the Stag V8.

As in the 2000, monocoque construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension—MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion.

The car was launched two years late, in 1970, to a fairly warm welcome, which soon turned sour at reports of engine problems. Some of these were due to the perennial problem of poor build quality, endemic to the British motor industry of the time, while others related to the inherent design problems in the engine. These include:

  • overly long single link chains with poor tensioning that only go about 25,000 miles between changes and result in expensive damage if they fail;
  • inadequately sized main bearings with short lives;
  • aluminium head warpage due to poor castings which restricted coolant, leading to overheating;
  • water pump failures relating to the drive gear shearing.

Many owners adopted a popular conversion of the car to use the Rover V8 or Ford Capri 2.8 V6 engine unit in preference to the Triumph one but, in recent times, such conversions fetch lower prices than a genuine Triumph-engined car because of the lack of originality.

Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for trouble, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Most were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient TR-2 gearbox which was slightly modified. First gear ratio was raised and needle roller bearings were used in place of the bronze bushings on the layshaft. Early models could be ordered with an A-type Laycock overdrive unit and later ones frequently came with a J-type Laycock unit. The overdrive option is highly desirable as the engine RPM is excessive without it. Of this number, 6,780 were export models, of which only 2,871 were to the United States. Two models were produced, the Mk I (19713) and Mk II (19737). Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few options. Some cars came with just the soft-top and some with just the hard-top but most ended up with both. Electric windows, power steering and brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, luggage rack, Koni shocks, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps.

A Stag is now a fairly desirable classic car, with sizeable club and owner support, a number of specialist suppliers, and reasonably strong prices. About 9,000 Stags are believed to survive in the United Kingdom. The car's popularity is possibly due to its comparative rarity, its uniqueness, and that, while the car is liable to engine problems, it is lacking in the rust and electrical problems that beset many British cars of the period.

Reference

  • Poole, C. (2004). Genteel Tourer: The Story of the 1970-77 Triumph Stag. Collectible Automobile, October 2004, 52-61.

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