A legendary sports car ~ mostly for real men, the kind of men who can stand having their hearts torn apart time and time again.
The Triumph TR6 is a development of the TR5, with new front and rear bodywork designed by Karmann of Germany. It’s an all steel body on top of a steel chassis frame, with a long stroke 2,498 cc straight six, ohv iron engine at the front, four speed gearbox with overdrive in the middle, and independent rear suspension at the back. The most interesting feature of the engine is the, (often temperamental), mechanical Lucas fuel injection system. It’s a two seat convertible with an optional, (heavy but good-looking), all steel hard top. If I were you I wouldn’t necessarily bother trying to find a TR6 with a hard top. I only fitted my hard top a couple of times, and the thing is a bastard both to handle and to store.
I once drove an un-restored, and not so well maintained, TR6 from the North of England to Tuscany, and it only broke down once, when the cooling fan fell off. (The cooling fan on the TR6 is mounted directly to the nose of the crankshaft.) Still, that was a 2,500 miles round trip, including the climb over the Swiss Alps ~ when the smell of cooking brakes was quite noticeable. The fan was an easy fix, although I should have had a tube of loctite in my tool kit.
The Triumph TR6 is a tough car, but like everything made in England in the 60’s and 70’s, it has its Achilles’ Heels. Such as; the chassis, engine, fuel injection system, brakes, bodywork, electrics, weatherproofing…
It’s a good-looking car, in a brutal kind of way, and the interior is a very nice place to sit. Properly set-up the 2.5 litre engine should be giving around 125 bhp or 150 bhp, (depending upon the year the car was built), which is good for 120 mph and a 0 to 60 time of about 8 seconds. (As originally sold, the earlier cars had 150 bhp, and the later cars only had 125 bhp.) But, it’s the way it does these times that gives the TR6 it’s charm. You should never buy a TR6 without the optional electric overdrive, because with it motorway, (freeway) cruising is very comfortable, without it freeways are a pain. Under hard acceleration the tail will squat and the motor-yacht burble from the exhaust will turn into a hard roar, and there is plenty of acceleration from any speed up to 100 mph or so.
Cross country driving in a TR6 is a charm, (especially with the electric overdrive), and there is enough performance to satisfy even the stupidly brave. Fast trans-continental journeys are very possible, (although the feul tank isn’t large and fuel consumption can be pretty poor), and there is enough luggage space for 2, (even if your girl / boy), likes to take a lot of changes of clothes. Boulevard cruising with the top down is a pastime that will never lose is attraction, and at the traffic-light sprint the TR6 will not only outperform much more modern cars, it will do so with unmatched style.
However, unless you have bottomless pockets, I would not recommend a TR6 to anyone but a certified mechanical genius. In particular, the Lucas mechanical fuel injection system can give a lot of trouble ~ as can the suspension, which needs regular greasing.
Of the 95,000 or so TR6 built, only about 8,500 were sold in the UK, so this is quite a rare car. A decent example will set you back around £15,000, (or $15,000 in the USA). If you’re looking for one, the first things to watch out for are poor shut lines in the doors, siezed sliding joints in the rear suspension, and rot in the rear cross-member, which is a bugger to repair / replace. Any of these things should warn you off the car.
Parts availability is good, ( http://www.rimmerbros.co.uk ), and given enough time and money you could build a TR6 from the ground upwards. It’s worth buying a galvanised chassis, or having your chassis repaired and galvanised. A new chassis is going to set you back around £4,000. There are plenty of tuning parts available, and the engine can be persuaded to give around 200 bhp, (but you may need to fit triple Webers instead of the Lucas fuel injection system). In any event, given the age of these cars, I would eventually consider fitting triple Weber carburetors, unless originality is your aim.
Other advisable modifications would be wider wheels and tyres, a better exhaust system, electronic ignition, better brakes, and upgraded springs and dampers, (again, unless originality is your aim).
The TR6 is a great car ~ far, far, better than it’s bastard ‘offspring’ the TR7, (although if I was going to roll my car on the freeway, I’d probebly live to walk away if I was in a TR7, but probably not if I was in a TR6).
The first thing to do if you want a TR6 is to join the owners’ club ~ The Triumph Sports Six Club in the UK http://www.tssc.org.uk. The other thing you must do if you’re thinking about buying a particular TR6, is to get the thing up on a hoist so you, (or your specialist mechanic), can poke about at the chassis and running gear. If there is any rust damage to the chassis frame, then I suggest you politely walk away.
In summary, the Triumph TR6 is a unique and very interesting car. There are not so many small, fast, convertible, straight six engined, good looking sports cars around.