If the winter doldrums have you daydreaming of convertible ownership, know that new cars aren’t your only option. And if you’re not planning on driving that convertible all the time, why not get a classic one? Say, for example, a vintage British roadster like the ones the Mazda Miata so effectively channels? Although some of these classic convertibles have gotten pricey, there are still plenty of affordable options. Case in point, this week’s Bring a Trailer bargain car: a 1973 Triumph TR6.
The Triumph TR6 is the last old-fashioned Triumph sports car
|1969-1976 Triumph TR6|
|Engine||2.5-liter inline-six (UK: fuel-injected; US: dual Zenith-Stromberg carburetors)|
|Horsepower||US: 104 hp (1969-1971), 106 hp (1972-1974), 101 hp (1975-1976)|
UK: 150 hp (1969-1973), 125 hp (1973-1976)
|Torque||US: 143 lb-ft (1969-1971), 133 lb-ft (1972-1974), 128 lb-ft (1975-1976)|
UK: 143 lb-ft
|Curb weight||2491 lbs|
|0-60 mph time||10.7 seconds (1969 US model)|
8.2 seconds (1969 UK model)
Triumph, along with MG, made some of the most iconic British convertible sports cars of the ‘60s and ‘70s. But even when they were new, Triumph’s TR roadsters often felt more “vintage” than their MG counterparts, Hagerty notes. However, while the emblematic MGB’s monocoque chassis is more modern, the TR cars’ old-school feel is part of their appeal. And arguably the greatest example of these ‘hairy-chested’ sensations—at least in The Grand Tour’s James May’s opinion—is the Triumph TR6.
As the last of the traditional body-on-frame RWD TRs, the Triumph TR6 is more of an evolutionary advance than a revolutionary one. Its middle section, for example, is identical to the earlier TR4, Hagerty says. And while its body stems from Karmann Ghia, the TR6 is essentially a carry-over TR5, Hemmings muses.
But the convertible sports car’s anachronistic aspects didn’t really slow it down.
Hagerty calls the Triumph TR6 “the archetypal British roadster”
On paper, the Triumph TR6 isn’t fast, particularly in carbureted US-spec. However, thanks to a low curb weight and fully-independent suspension, it could keep up with the likes of the MGB and Datsun 240Z. Some even claim that, on a curvy road, a TR6 could trade paint with a Jaguar E-Type—and even overtake it, Hagerty says. It helps that one of the TR6’s updates over the TR4 and TR5 is a front sway bar.
Little wonder, then, that the Triumph TR6 is often called ‘the poor man’s Austin-Healey 3000.’ Admittedly, it’s not as luxurious or as comfortable as the big Healey. And in stock form, the independent rear suspension does make for a bouncy ride. But there’s a reassuring heft to the unassisted steering, not to mention plenty of feedback. Plus, the 2.5-liter inline-six warbles and growls wonderfully as you shift the all-synchromesh transmission, Hagerty says.
If you’re looking for one of the best distillations of the classic British convertible sports car, the Triumph TR6 is it.
You can bid on a 1973 TR6 right now on Bring a Trailer
As a US-market model, the Triumph TR6 currently listed on Bring a Trailer has a carbureted engine. And as a 1973 model, it has 106 hp but no 5-mph rubber bumpers.
As noted earlier, the TR6 isn’t a luxury car. But it does have upscale touches, including a wooden dashboard and a locking glovebox. Unfortunately, this Triumph TR6 has a non-functioning heater. However, it does have lap belts—a non-period addition—power-assisted brakes, wind-up windows, and a relocated hood release.
This 1973 Triumph TR6 wasn’t originally red; a previous owner repainted it from its original yellow shade. And in addition to the non-functioning heater, the soft-top roof has a patched tear. But it’s otherwise in excellent shape, with no visible rust (a common problem for many vintage British roadsters).
Also, the seller performed some crucial maintenance on this Triumph TR6. They replaced several non-functioning gauges, flushed the brake fluid, and gave the engine new wiring. And speaking of the engine, the seller also flushed the fuel system, overhauled the carburetors, installed new spark plugs, adjusted the valves, and replaced the fuel filter, valve cover gasket, and clutch slave cylinder. They flushed the cooling system and replaced the radiator cap and thermostat, too.
This Triumph TR6 is a classic convertible sports car bargain that’s becoming investment-worthy
As of this writing, this 1973 Triumph TR6 is listed at $3300 with two days left in the auction. That’s less than half the average price of a fair-condition TR6, Hagerty notes, and less than a quarter of a good-condition one. In short, this is a true British roadster bargain.
It also might be one of the last chances to get an affordable TR6. Hagerty recently named the Triumph sports car to its 2022 Bull Market list in the UK, noting that, while still affordable, these roadsters are rising in value. And while UK versions are more powerful, they’re also rarer, and carburetors are easier to work on. Clean, US-market TR6s will therefore likely become valued classics for overseas customers.
However, for the US owner, a Triumph TR6 is still an enjoyable classic sports car. It’s easy to wrench on and there are a ton of parts and helpful manuals available. And there are plenty of ways to improve the handling and power output.
So, if you want a classic convertible experience on the cheap, consider bidding on this 1973 TR6.
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