The Triumph Stag a Quintessential British Classic Car

Paul Lines By Paul Lines, 28th Feb 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Transport>Other

A short history of a the classic UK car - the Triumph Stag


Despite its chequered history, being beset by engine and maintenance issues during its short-lived production life, the Triumph Stag has become the quintessential grand tourer sports car for the classic car enthusiast. Just over a quarter of a century after the last Stag rolled of the production line, it has become a popular choice for the many thousands of enthusiasts desiring to own a classic car with a difference.

The Triumph Stag was one of the original full four-seater convertible sports cars with a hard top option available, which matched if not surpassed the best that luxury brands such as Mercedes and BMW could offer at the time in terms of style and power.

How the Stag story began

The Triumph Stag was originally intended to begin life as a concept car. It was based on a design created by Giovanni Michelotti, a renowned Italian car stylist, for the 1965 Turin Motor Show. Michelotti asked Harry Webster, the director of engineering and development at the British manufacturer Standard-Triumph, later to become part of the ill-fated British-Leyland, if he could use the Triumph 2000 for this purpose.

Part of the agreement was that should Webster like the concept he would purchase the design for development into a production model and it would not be entered into the show. Webster fell in love with Michelotti’s concept and so, in 1966, the Triumph Stag began its journey into the UK motoring history books, although it was to be four years later before the first model hit the car showrooms in the USA and UK.

Stag specifications

The Stag was designed as a two door, four-seat convertible sports tourer with the option of a soft or hard top, or a combination of the two. There were only two models made during its lifetime, the Mk I and Mk II, the latter including minimal exterior refinements. A number of engine types were trialled throughout its production run, which commenced with the straight 6 version from the Triumph 2000. This was changed during later years to the V8 2.5 litre and, in the latest stag models, the V8 3 litre without fuel injection. Similar changes were made to the transmission, with the original Stag models having a 4-speed box with the option of overdrive and for the later models the Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic being made available. The external look of the car could also be enhanced through the choice of steel, wire spooked or alloy wheels. Another key feature of the Stag was its T-shaped bar, which although considered by many to be provide safety protection, was actually introduced to strengthen the Stag frame and eliminate what Derek Athey of the Stag Owner’s Club termed as “Skuttle-Shake” vibrations.

With rapid acceleration, a top speed of 120 mph and fuel consumption of around 20 mpg on average, despite its low price in comparison with today’s market, the Stag was set to carve a niche for itself in the luxury sports car market. However, that was before it was beset by production and mechanical problems, which effectively destroyed this aspiration almost before it began.

Issues that marred the Stag’s production success

It could be argued that the four year delay in the launch of the Triumph Stag served as an omen for its brief and troubled future as a production model (1970-1977). The four year lag was caused by issues with the production process and the adverse impact of the merger of Standard Triumph into the British-Leyland brand. The delay meant that within a couple of years from going on sale, the Stag fell victim to the Middle-East oil crisis of 1973, which reduced the popularity of cars with high fuel consumption.

However, it was mechanical and maintenance failures that was to be the root cause of the Stag’s woes. With much of its expected 12,000 annual sales being aimed at the US market, an almost immediate influx of warranty claims in America led to it being withdrawn from this market in 1973. Similar mechanical issues also led to a bad reputation arising around the Stag in its home UK market, which resulted in production being ceased totally in 1977. Indeed, during the seven year period only just shy of 26,000 Stag’s were actually sold, well short of the anticipated 84,000 sales.

Rebirth of the Stag as a classic car

Perhaps it was partly the chequered history of the Stag, together with its unique look and style that caused it to arise from the ashes of production failure to become a much loved British sports tourer classic car. The styling perhaps puts it close to the US classic muscle cars in appearance and the mechanical problems have encouraged classic car enthusiasts to work hard to restore the Stag to the faultless sports convertible that it should originally have been. Whatever the reason for its appeal, the fact that around 35% of the Stag's sold remain in the hands of collectors today suggests that the Triumph Stag has finally secured its rightful place as a classic in British automotive history.


Automobiles, Classic Cars, Motoring, Sports Car

Meet the author

author avatar Paul Lines
Having spent a large part of my working life as a business consultant, I am now a full time freelance writer offering content for on-line and print publishers, as well as focusing on creative writing

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
28th Feb 2015 (#)

For sure these old classic cars are something most men would love to own.

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author avatar Paul Lines
28th Feb 2015 (#)

I owned a Triumph 2500 once, but it is nothing like this classic Mark

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author avatar Kingwell
12th Apr 2015 (#)

Fascinatingly told! Blessings.

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author avatar Paul Lines
13th Apr 2015 (#)

It is a dream car Kingwell

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