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TR-6's. Love'm? Hate'm?

parmparm Posts: 724
edited March 2011 in General
For various reasons, I've kind of been thinking that a little sports car/convertible would be fun to toss around and I've always liked TR-6's. Problem is, I know "bupkus" about them other than they were made between 1969 and 1976. Something tells me those in the know here will suggest the early models, before the big rubber bumpers appeared. But, I think CPI gives a higher value to the later model years indicating they may be a better car. Plus, I'm guessing those rubber bumper stoppers could be removed - and nobody from the BMV is going to question that at this point. Mechanically and suspension-wise, is there a better year range to focus on?

I'm open to other brands/models of affordable sports cars, but would still like to keep this thread pretty TR6 specific - at least in the beginning. I see current TR6 listings for supposedly nice ones for around $25,000 (there's one on eBay now for around $35K I believe). But, I would think I'd be able to get a nice one for around $15,000? Is that reasonable or am I too low?

One I've seen for sale has a Toyota 5-speed tranmission (from a Supra maybe?) which I would think would be a worthy upgrade. I guess some TR6's came with a factory electric over-drive for highway cruising. Was that a reliable feature? "Electric Overdrive" sounds like a maintenance nightmare to me, but perhaps they were bulletproof? Would like to hear comments about that.

So, any discussion about these cars regarding what to look for and how to tell a good one from a bad one (obviously rust/rot is a less than stellar characteristic) would appreciated. Thanks.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 54,529
    Having owned two of them, I'm pretty familiar with them, although I don't claim to know it all by any means.

    Some basics:

    1. If you don't like a car that rides as hard as a stagecoach and smells like oil and lets rain in and tortures you with niggling electrical issues, then don't buy a TR6. They all do these things and there's no way to stop them from doing it.

    2. Never EVER buy a TR6 needing major work. There is nothing worse than a junky TR6. It'll never be made right

    3. Be aware of possible frame damage due to rust, especially in the rear suspension anchor points. Also look for rust in the rockers, and above the tail lights.

    4. The best ones would be 1969-1970. In '71 they dropped the compression ratio (which you could fix_) and in 1973 added the dreaded rubber bumpers and raised the ride height---yes, you can remove the rubbers and put on standard chrome over-riders.

    5. Don't listen to people who are not knowledgable about these cars. They are VERY rugged if you take care of them.

    Perhaps the best description I've heard for a TR6 is "the best of the TRs, but it was old the day it was new".

    I like to call them "a man's car" because they steer hard, ride hard, shift hard and die hard. This is no Miata.

    But on a warm summer's day, on the right road, and with the right music or company----it's heaven on earth in that car.

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  • parmparm Posts: 724
    So, how much for a nice one?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 54,529
    edited March 2011
    Oh, I'd guess $20K would buy you a pretty nice car and you might nick one at $15K if you're patient. The trick is finding a nice one.

    And here's one you don't want:

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  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,194
    When I was in college my roommate had one, although it never made it up to school.
    He lived in the New Haven, CT area and on one of those days you described, we took the Merritt Parkway on our way to Yankee Stadium.
    Too bad he didn't on the other side of the state. We could have taken the Saw Mill.
    I think that was my first ride in a convertible and your post brought back some of it like it was yesterday. :)
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    Personally I like TR4's better, but that's just individual taste. I have a heavily modified 77 MGB that someone other poor soul did most of the restoration on, then got frustrated with the niggling little problems that cropped up. Most of the things that Shifty said to look for hold true for MGB's also.
    If your really going to look for a TR6 I would stick to cars that have always been in the southwest. Rust is a big issue, but be wary, even cars from dry climates can have serious rust issues.
    Some day I'm going to tackle those rubber bumpers and switch my MGB over to chrome ones.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,978
    I had a friend whose dad had two TR-6es. One was blue and I think the other one was burgundy. More rust, actually, and it was kept under a tarp, as a parts car. Honestly, they were both pieces of crap, although the blue one had been known to run.

    That was back in the late 80's, so I'm sure both of those cars have returned to the Earth by now.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 39,004
    A kid I knew in high school had a TR6, this was in the mid 90s. Even in the gentle climate here, by then the thing was about 2 inches from the junkyard, it was pretty rotten. Not very reliable either, and he always had issues with the top and side windows. I remember the color was kind of a burgundy, but oxidized to where it looked just like rust.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    It's not a TR7!

  • fintailfintail Posts: 39,004
    I remember when I was little, when those wedges weren't very old - maybe just out of production - I really liked the look of those.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 54,529
    I had a TR250, which was the TR4 body with the TR6 engine---now that was a perfect world for me.

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  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 17,837
    My brother had the one-year only (1968) TR-250 which in most ways was a better car than my '66 TR-4A (non-IRS), certainly it was more reliable but if I were looking today I might get a good Miata instead. Those are pretty sturdy cars with good tops and excellent handling.

    It's a matter of taste but for me a good twin cam four that'll really rev is better than the torquey six but if I had to do a lot of highway driving I might go for a big six.

    I don't agree with Shifty that there's nothing you can do to improve the basic faults of the TR-6. Lots of guys replace the finicky Lucas electrics with an electronic ignition and it's worth looking into moving the battery to the trunk. It's murder on batteries to sit right above and behind the motor.

    Eventually you'll replace the exhaust system and the top. You could look into a hardtop because as Shifty said, they're pretty leaky.

    A thorough inspection for body rust is mandatory, and keep in mind that you can buy a Low mileage 2nd Gen Porsche Boxster (987) for around what a good TR-6 costs?

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 54,529
    Yeah but a Miata is an entirely different universe of sports car. It conveys nothing of a British sports car except the wind perhaps. It's too quiet, it doesn't smell right, it doesn't need the owner at all, and it's too high tech for most people to tinker with, aside from bolting on mods.

    You lose a lot of information and feedback experience when you choose a Miata over a TR6--some of it admittedly rather intangible, and some of it of no interest to a Miata owner.

    I personally have trouble seeing myself in a Miata. Even the MINI Cooper S was hard for me, but I managed to stay away from cute colors and I made a pretty fast, hard-riding noisy car out of it.

    I'm proud of that :)

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  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 17,837
    edited March 2011
    Ah yes, there is nothing that smells like a British Roadster. nothing else has the heady combination of exhaust gases, leather, musty carpeting and fumes from grease being fried under the

    You are correct in that those cars offered a unique (if primitive) automotive experience unmatched by anything modern automotive experience and if one has the enthusiasm to deal with the fact that your car needs you more than you need it it's a good way to go.

    I just thought I'd note that this fellow might consider that there are some more modern, less fussy alternatives for the same dough. It depends what he is looking for. I'm sure one could do to a Miata what you've done with your Mini-Cooper. A sporty exhaust would increase noise and maybe power. Stiffer springs/shocks would give sportier ride handling and there are a gazillion aftermarket options for more power. It's too bad you can't get a Miata (or a Cooper) without power steering which inevitably fails to match the road feel you get in those old roadsters.

    As I once wrote those old Brits may have been lousy automobiles but as automotive experiences they had a lot to offer.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • fintailfintail Posts: 39,004
    And now you can choose from a Lotus with a Toyota engine or a Morgan with a BMW engine.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 17,837
    edited March 2011
    Oh heck, borrowing engines is par for the course with Brit sports cars. Triumph fours were based on tractor engines and were used in Morgan Plus4s as well as TRs. MG and A-H motors were based on Austin units.

    Early Bristols and AC-Bristols used a prewar BMW design. Gordon-Keebles and later Bristols used American V8s, GM for the Keeble and MoPar for the Bristols.

    Even Lotus used Ford blocks as a basis for their 1600cc twin-cammers. Supposedly Lotus is working on their own 100% Lotus motor for their next gen sports cars.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • fintailfintail Posts: 39,004
    The two most British products remaining, now with axis sourced engines? It's funny.

    The Bristol-Frazer Nash-BMW connection is odd and complex, starting with importing and then looting/liberating...and how relevant are they now?

    And now the RR Ghost is just a glorified 7er :shades:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 54,529
    Another problem with the Miata aside from it being so insufferably polite is that unless you are 5'9" or under, forget about it. At least with a British sports car, people 6 foot and taller can fit quite comfortably.

    The TR6 engine takes some of the thrashing-motor annoyance away from the typical British sports car, so that's a welcome improvement. It's smooth and pretty fast---plenty of torque and enough power for modern freeways.

    It also has a lot less scuttle-shake than a TR4, the latter offering you the privilege of watching the windshield dance sideways when you go over railroad tracks.

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  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 17,837
    There is one characteristic of the 6 cylinder TRs that I found fairly annoying. Even moderate acceleration causes a great deal of rear end squat as the weight of the car seems to shift dramatically rearwards, IIRC this can be moderated by adding spacers to the rear springs. I would hope so cuz it takes a lot of the fun out of stomping on the throttle.

    In general the Triumph IRS was a primitive design but then primitive was a defining characteristic of most Triumphs.

    What's a good TR-3A go for these days Shifty?

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,687
    With the top down, the Miata isn't so bad for tall people. It is tight, but I can get by.

    My old MGB had more leg room. It probably had more head room too, but it didn't matter because the top of the windshield was in my field of vision.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 54,529
    edited March 2011
    TR3 A--I'd guess around $25K and up for a really good one. These cars are a challenge to restore, so it's not a project you'd want to blithely skip into while whistling.

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  • garv214garv214 Posts: 162
    It's too bad you can't get a Miata (or a Cooper) without power steering which inevitably fails to match the road feel you get in those old roadsters.

    Not entirely true. I have a 1994 Miata Type R which came with manual steering, windows, and locks.

    Shifty tried sitting in it one day, so I totally understand why he bought a Mini.

    I drove a friend's TR6 once (they were the original CA owners). Nice torquey 6 cylinder, great exhaust note, but very scary brakes. I wouldn't dare drive it over 30 mph, it was that scary... Either I am just too used to modern brakes or there were braking issues on that car...

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,114
    edited March 2011
    Does anyone have nay thoughts on these?

    I knew a guy who once worked in one of the few shops that would actually work on them. He said they called them Lawn Chairs because they usually sat around not running.

    Still, I doubt if there many as nice as this one if you can overlook the color.

    And, why would he call it a Fiat Lancia? Did Fiat have anything to do with these?
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,687
    My only thought is I would run away screaming if a Lancia tried to come home with me.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,687
    That isn't so new anymore. It is hard to believe Miatas have been around for over 20 years now. I am old.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 39,004
    edited March 2011
    Yeah, I think a lot of enthusiasts see that era Lancia as glorified Fiats - those era cars were Fiat engineered. They had a terrible propensity for falling apart...23K miles is probably the average life expectancy. Still, that one does look nice, and the AC system is amusing to look at...price is probably steep either way, but best to get one like that than a beater.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 17,837
    edited March 2011
    Fiat bought out Lancia one of the oldest makers on the planet (est. 1906) in 1969 and the Beta was the first fruit of that merger. It used the same twin-cam motor as the Fiat 124 Sports in a pretty FWD coupe. Unfortunately they were terribly put together and pretty much doomed the future of Lancia in the US.

    Lancia survives( on life support) in Europe where Fiat Group is said to be considering rebadging Chrysler 200s as Lancias. It'd be better if they just stopped making Lancias altogether IMO.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • marsha7marsha7 Posts: 3,703
    topic, which intrigued me because to me, the TR6 is the prettiest car ever made in the last 100 years...the side view is beautiful, the rear view is functional (certainly visible at night, as well designed as a Volvo with amber signal lights) and, just the most beautiful car EVER made...

    I wish someone made a reproduction model, with all of todays safety features...
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 17,837
    edited March 2011
    Looks of course are a matter of taste but I think most people would say the TR-4/250 was the looker of the Triumph line. The TR-4 was designed by Michelotti, an Italian carozzerria, the TR-6 by Karmann, the German company best known for the Karmann-Ghia.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • fintailfintail Posts: 39,004
    I think there are at least a couple relatively recent TR6 diecasts out there

    Oh, you mean a real car :shades:
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 13,337
    Looks of course are a matter of taste but I think most people would say the TR-4/250 was the looker of the Triumph line.

    Yes you are right looks are a matter of taste. That being said I think the TR-3 was the best looking Triumph, it is the most British looking of them all IMHO.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

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