I want a car, chicks dig the car
Le Mans with Steve Mcqueen
some cars are cool and some women are cool
but a cool woman in a cool car is hot
Lightweight Land Rover
Jaguar V12 E-type
Austin-Healey Sprite MkII
Reliant Scimitar GTE
Lotus Elan Plus 2
so, after a lot of committee work they came up with a curate’s egg
Here in England there is a long tradition of curious and interesting sports cars, with a few names being right at the top of the list when it comes to cars the classic enthusiast admires. Sadly, the Triumph TR7 was never a car to put stars in the eyes. Mostly that was because it was so different to it’s better-looking and more hairy-chested predecessors.
The original TR7 was a two-seat fixed-head coupe, powered by an overhead-cam four that churned out some 100 bhp. Underneath was a fairly sophisticated suspension for the time, bolted to an incredibly strong monocoque, which made the little car heavy at just over a ton. (Trust me, if you are ever going to roll a sports car, and expect to live through it, then make it a TR7.) But, deep down, the TR7 was a great car waiting to get out from under something far more ordinary.
The TR7 had two basic problems; #1 it wasn’t a convertible #2 it was underpowered for its weight. Despite that, and despite its terrible build quality it sold very well in the USA.
To give the TR7 more power the designers chose to drop in a 150 bhp version of the Rover / Buick 215 cu in aluminium V8, producing what was either a TR7 V8, or a Triumph TR8, (depending on who you talk to). This thing went like
shit off a shovel. Then, to make it more appealing to Californians the steel roof was chopped off. The thing was, the original TR7 was so strong that not at lot of additional strengthening was needed to compensate for the lack of a roof and those hefty C pillars.
What resulted was a pretty little proper sports car that was fabulous to drive, so long as you remembered all that weight up front.
I’ve never driven a TR8, but I did like its less powerful TR7 FHC variant. Imagine a stiffer and more powerful MGB and you will have an idea. The ohc four up-front revs better than the venerable B series four-pot, and the shorter wheel-base makes the TR7 more nimble.
If you want one of these things, then first of all they are rare. The TR8 drophead is a rare as hen’s teeth. Finding one in as good condition as the gold number pictured here could take a very long time indeed. Outside of California any un-restored example is likely to be infested with rust. Any original car is likely to have problems with the electrics, cooling, gearbox, rear axle, suspension….. But do not let that put you off. Given a decent garage / workshop I could rebuild / build one of these things from the front spoiler backwards. Just about everything is available, and there are thousands of bits languishing from other British Leyland cars of the era. In fact you could take a rotten TR7 FHC shell and build a convertible with as much performance as you want / dare.
Some say the Triumph TR7 is like a curate’s egg, good in parts. And that only a hairdresser would want to own one. All I know is that the TR7 intrigues me ~ in any form it’s like a beautiful woman hiding her charms.
you might want to do something about that ‘period’ interior upholstery
a car isn’t a cool classic just because it’s old
but some cars are always cool
a connection to place,
to the land and the sky,
any long road trip is very special
The car you drive says a lot about you.
I like cars, but then I like all things engineering and mechanical, up to and including the RMS Queen Mary.
California seems to have a Love / Hate relationship with the internal combustion engine, but there are some great cars out there.
A cool guy should drive a cool car, (if you have to ask; ‘which is a cool car?’ then you aren’t a particularly cool guy). Any cool woman can drive any car she likes and it will always be very cool.
I think Marmaduke likes a Bentley
No woman is going to want to admit that she’s had casual sex in an Edsel. The Ford Edsel is not a cool car, it’s not even so ugly-pretty that it’s cool. The Edsel is just one of the worst cars ever made.
So what makes an Edsel such a terrible car? Start with how it looks, and it looks as though it was designed by a committee of the most boring preppy men Ford could come up with after searching through the worst colleges in America. I mean, who would design a grille that looks like a surprised toilet seat?
For a brand-new design the Edsel was about as innovative as a horse and cart. It was big and heavy ~ over 18 feet long and weighing in at two tons. It had a newly designed ohv V8 Ford MEL engine, (Mercury, Edsel, Lincoln), which was big at 410 cu in, (6.7 litres), powerful with 345 bhp and 475 ft lbs of torque, and very heavy. The Edsel had a slush-pump auto-box, and Hotchkiss live axle rear suspension that dated back to the 1930s. It also had some weird features, such as push-button gear selectors on the steering wheel.
And then the Edsel had the second worst marketing and sales campaign in the history of road transport, only eclipsed by that even bigger disaster, the Sinclair C5. From a teaser campaign that heralded the Edsel as the car for the future, to setting up a separate Edsel division within the Ford Motor Company and a separate dealership network, everything about the Edsel’s sales and marketing is a textbook example of how not to sell anything. Small wonder this dog of a car sold only 110,847 heavily discounted units ~ peanuts by Ford standards.
The Edsel was also relatively expensive, costing about the same as a Mercury, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Dodge, which were much better products, with much better and more well-known names and images.
Because the Edsel was built on the same production line as standard Fords, the assemblers had to interrupt their routines when an Edsel came along, and many workers just didn’t bother to put the right parts in the right places. Therefore the Edsel was very badly built and suffered from consequent reliability problems. Issues ranged from a leaking trunk, (boot), in wet weather, to bad welding, and catastrophically dangerous power steering failures.
Allegedly, the Edsel drives like a canal barge. That huge V8 delivers pedestrian performance with a top speed just short of 120 mph, a 0-60 time of about 11 seconds, and terrible fuel consumption figures. The suspension is nothing to write home about, and so pressing-on is supposed to be accompanied by a lot of tyre squeal, initial understeer and then mad oversteer. Have I ever driven an Edsel? You have got to be joking.
Luckily there are only about 6,000 examples of this terrible car still in existence. There has to be more than that, everywhere I go on my various road trips I seem to come across an Edsel, or maybe they’re just so bad that they’re memorable. You can expect to pay about $10,000 for an immaculate example, if you were ever insane enough to want an Edsel.
Don’t buy an Edsel. They are not cool, an Edsel won’t make a satisfying hobby, they will make a terrible investment, and no cool girl will ever want to have sex with you in that car.
Shocking, Cool, Hot, Surprising, Sexy, Lotus.
This car was a leap into the unknown and only a dynamic English small-volume sports and racing car company could have come up with this unique little package. (Well, maybe Honda or Suzuki could have come up with something similar.)
The first thing you need to know about the M100 series Lotus Elan is that it’s front-wheel drive. Front wheel drive is an anathema to sports car enthusiasts. The engine in this Elan came out an Isuzu van, and the whole project was financed by General Motors. Front wheel drive isn’t ideal in a very fast car ~ torque steer, bump steer, lift-off oversteer, steering kickback, lack of traction…. to name a few problems.
The quickest point to point car available. ~ Autocar Magazine
Real drivers will tell you that the M100 Lotus Elan remains the best driving front-wheel drive car ever made, bar none.
Almost all the 1,588 cc dohc 16 valve engines were turobcharged. Power from the turbocharged engine comes in at a very healthy 165 bhp, and 148 ft/lbs of torque, driving through a 5 speed gearbox, and this little car weighs just about a tonne, (1,020 kilos). Flat out this Elan should almost touch 140 mph.
Like almost all Lotus, it’s a pretty fibreglass body over a steel backbone chassis, but this time there’s a clever ‘floating’ subframe to carry the engine, gearbox, and front suspension.
It’s rare. less than 5,000 built in all, (including about 800 which were built and sold by Kia).
It’s cool, and it’s cute, and it’s fairly practical, which makes it a great girl’s car. It’s also quirky, clever in engineering terms, and it’s bloody fast, which means that a real man would look good owning one of these things. Even though it’s a bit metrosexual the M100 Elan qualifies as a very cool car. Also, unlike many Lotus products, you don’t have to be a contortionist to get in and out of this Elan.
If you can find one, you can buy a decent M100 Elan for £ 5,000. But beware, it’s a Lotus, so it will go wrong and bits will fall off. And, if the backbone chassis is rusted or damanged, expect a lot of heartache and expense.
Any car which holds together for more than a race is too heavy. ~ Colin Chapman
But, and here’s the thing, the M100 was supposed to be a high-volume product, and GM / Lotus spent about $100 million developing this little Elan. This is a strong, tough, well thought out, sexy little car. Would I own one? Would I use this Elan for a transcontinental road trip? In a New York Second I would.
As good-looking as a high-priced hooker, and with the same kind of sex appeal. (Just think of a 2/3 scale Corvette Stingray.) Sex appeal is the one damn good reason to own a Marcos. It’s not a self-effacing little car.
This thing started life in 1964 with a plywood chassis, (later replaced with steel tubing), and if you’re thinking about buying one of those early cars watch out for wood-rot. The Mantis is actually a very clever little car, designed by a couple of brilliant guys; Jem Marsh and Frank Costin, (hence MarCos). It’s as rare as hen’s teeth and a good one will set you back £15,000 or so, which is bloody expensive for a pocket rocket.
The Marcos was built with Ford, Volvo, and Rover engines, but whatever engine is fitted, driving a Marcos is a frightening experience. It’s lower than your hips and from the driver’s seat the long-long bonnet is just about you can see.
Forget a Marcos if you’re over about 5’9″, fat, and can’t touch your toes. Getting in and out is not easy. Once inside it’s a comfortable place to sit, except the seat doesn’t adjust, (the pedal box does), and it will smell of hot plastic, (and perhaps damp carpets / damp leather).
If you like cool cars, you will adore the little Marcos. If you’re a cool girl / woman, your sex-appeal is geometrically multiplied if you arrive driving a Marcos, although you will flash a lot of leg getting in and out of the thing. Oh, that’s good for your sex appeal too.
A word of warning, it’s impossible to have sex in a Marcos.
Saying anything else is utterly superfluous.
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.
Rest In Peace, The Best 4×4 By Far
All good things must come to an end. My Lightweight Land Rover was one of the best things I ever had. Proper Land Rovers are fairly ugly, ( the Lightweight pictured is incredibly ugly), boxy, heavy, slow, uncomfortable, thirsty, rugged ~ a ‘proper’ Land Rover is one of the coolest cars a man can buy. And, should you ever want to take off into the middle of a desert, on a dirt road, for a couple of weeks at a time, then there is no better car to choose than a ‘proper’ Land Rover.
The modern ‘proper’ Land Rover is called Defender, but before Land Rover went chichi and upmarket on us, all Land Rovers were rugged off-road vehicles equally suited to driving down Regent Street in London as they were to carrying troops across a battlefield. The iconic Land Rover is said to be The Queen’s favourite car.
The very first Land Rovers were built, by the Rover Company, to replace the ubiquitous Jeep just after the end of WWII. The whole design ethos can be traced back to those 2 simple facts. It had to replace the Jeep and it was going to be British, and Britain was broken and destitute after WWII. The Land Rover had to be a rugged, go-anywhere 4×4 workhorse. Steel was in short supply in the UK so the body is aluminium, it had to use as many existing components as possible, looks and comfort didn’t much matter, and it had to be cheap. The 1948 version cost £450.
The simple solution found by Rover designer Maurice Wilks was to manufacture a strong box section chassis, and just hang everything else off that. Just look at that chassis. Rugged or what? Over-engineered perhaps. At the beginning all Land Rovers came in sage-green because a job-lot of surplus paint was acquired from a fighter aircraft factory.
Basically, once the basic steel frame has been welded together, everything else is bolted on. Or pop-riveted. Or screwed. Or banged in with a hammer. For English boys of a certain age if I say that a Land Rover is just a man-sized Meccano, they will know exactly how it was built. (USA Erector Set) As the blurb for the Erector Set says the ability to build a model, then take it apart and build something else, over and over again. And, do you know what? You can do the same thing with a full-sized Land Rover.
If your Land Rover is falling apart, you can take it completely apart, down to the last nut and bolt, and then build it again, but perhaps differently, and better. Choose cart springs or coil? Part-time or full-time four-wheel drive? Pick any engine you like, and as far as the body is concerned, the choice is too wide to mention. The most extreme Land Rover bodywork is the 101 Forward Control, which makes a fantastic camper / RV. This thing was mostly used as a military ambulance or command car.
This flexibility and rebuild-ability means that the Land Rover is the greenest car ever built, dust to dust. More than 80% of all the ‘proper’ Land Rovers ever built since 1948 are still in use~ they don’t get thrown away, they get recycled. Which should have pleased the environmental nutcases is California, but didn’t. Perhaps they didn’t like its military connections.
Since the first Land Rover was built in 1948 some 200,000 have been bought for military use, and like all Land Rovers have appeared in a bewildering range of variants. As well as the 101 there were tracked, amphibious, fire engines… The most famous variant being the Pink Panthers used by the SAS, (Special Air Service), the UK’s and World’s premier special service force. The pink colour is desert camouflage. You would understand that if you’d ever been into the desert.
However, there are a few problems having a real Land Rover as your only car. For example; they are illegal in the USA, they are slowish and use a lot of fuel, comfort isn’t what they are built for, they are tall and a long way off the ground, the heating system is pathetic…. But, as I said, if you really want to drive off into the desert, this is your vehicle of choice, at least you will stand some chance of returning.
There is an all new Land Rover Defender coming off the stocks. But the new Land Rover Defender isn’t even going to be built at its traditional home, in Solihull, in Britain. A new factory in Slovakia, (Slovakia? Did anything good ever come from that part of the world), will build the chichi new Defender DC100, which looks like a bigger version of BMW’s Mini that’s been frightened by a plastic bath-tub. More suitable for the supermarket car park than the Sahara Desert.
Good Grief! But money talks. Land Rover will be able to sell this toy car in the USA. They are just dumb enough to buy it if it’s cheap.
I have owned a couple of Land Rovers, including a Lightweight, and the kid’s toy look of the new DC100 just doesn’t cut it. It’s a girl’s car, or maybe a hairdresser’s, at least a metrosexual guy who worries about his manicure more than his car.
Don’t worry, get a tool kit and build your own ‘proper’ Land Rover. All you need is a hammer ~ well maybe. It’s the tool of choice in Slovakia.
most photographs from google