Make Your Choice, Please: $4k 1974 TVR Or TR6?

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Jamie PalmerBy Jamie Palmer

As it turns out, both of these British sports cars are within one state of me, both are priced at $4,000, both are model year 1974, and they even have the same type of engine and transmission! I know which one of the two I’d spend my $4,000 on, but I’d love to hear your choice! The TVR is available here on craigslist and is located in Wake Forest, North Carolina, while the TR6 is advertised here on craigslist and is located in Columbia, South Carolina.

t1

The TVR looks relatively complete, and if you spotted already that the rear window is out, it’s been taken out for careful storage and is intact (they are quite expensive). It is wearing the attractive factory wheels, and I think the paint would actually look okay if it were cleaned up and waxed. You can just see the fabric sunroof (factory) in this shot; most of the time they need replacement of the fabric, which is not as easy as it sounds.

t5

The interior is intact but will require almost complete replacement. The good part is that these were only done to slightly over kit car standards anyway, so they are certainly within the ability of the typical local upholstery shop. The bumpers should be chrome, by the way, and yes, those are TR6 tail light units for the observant.

collage2

These are tight little cars inside with a high transmission tunnel that covers the backbone space frame. According to the seller, the frame is rot-free, which is pretty unusual in my experience. On the right we have the TR6 engine and standard four speed transmission. The only drive train alterations I’m aware of for TVR use are a cut down TR6 fan and a 3.45:1 differential ratio from UK spec TR6s. One negative of note is that it only comes with a bill of sale, so titling is up to you.

u1

The TR6 is also unusually rust free (Howard A, pay attention!) and has just had quite a bit of money spent on it, including $1,000 worth of brand new tires. The paint looks like it could be original apart from the pinstripe, but I suspect not because the Union Jack decals aren’t on the rear fenders. While the wheels are aftermarket ones, they are quite in keeping with the car and look nice.

u4

There’s a huge plus in this picture that is also validated by the overdrive badge visible on the rear of the car–the second stalk on the left hand side of the steering column is for the electrically actuated overdrive that makes driving a TR so equipped a LOT nicer. Seeing as overdrive setups to convert a TR6 without one start at about $1,500 for used parts, that makes this car quite the bargain! And, of course, you can put the top down for that convertible experience.

u5

Here’s the 2.5 liter Triumph inline six, just like the TVR (this car has an aftermarket aluminum valve cover).

So which one would you choose? The somewhat quicker, better handling, lighter weight and more rare TVR that may have some title difficulties, or the topless TR6 with overdrive and more mainstream non-drivetrain parts support? I’ll share my choice eventually in the comments, but I want to hear yours first!

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Ok, that’s it. ( dialing # of credit union,,,,one ringy dingy, 2 ringy, oh my goodness, Hi, I’d like to pull $4,000 out of my acct. for a TR-6 located in,,,, what? It is? All of it? Except $7.35 to keep the acct open? Ends call) Oh, oh, sorry Jamie. Due to an investment snafu, it’s going to have to wait a spell, but I’d be all over the TR-6. I’ve always thought the TVR was pretty cool, got to say, if I’m going to relive those MGB days of yesteryear, it’s going to have to be a roadster. One of these days. Thanks for the updates. The TR-6 is in the ballpark.

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      I’ll keep trying, Howard! 🙂 We’ll find one that coincides with available funding sooner or later!

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  2. Car Guy

    I would buy the TR6. In my opinion it’s better looking, easier to get parts for, and as English sports cars go, has better build quality. There is also a bigger market of buyers for these when it comes time to sell.

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Interesting point, Car Guy, about the larger market when it’s time to sell. And I believe you are correct.

      Part of my car “illness” is that I don’t think I have ever purchased a car with the intent to sell it later. Ok, maybe that’s not quite true, but of the classic cars I’ve owned, I’d guess that I’ve intended to keep well over 90% of them. It doesn’t always work that way, though. Perhaps I should keep that advice in mind!

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  3. Dave Wright

    I would deffinatly buy the TVR with one caveat, The last time I drove one the interior was too small for me. I love the tube frames and unequness of them. There are so many TR6’s around and to me they have always been pretty pedestrian.

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      “Pedestrian”? Wow, I can think of a lot of words to describe a TR6, but that wouldn’t be one of them.

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      • Luki

        Not pedestrian? Ok then. How about slow, poor handling and uncomfortable?

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      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Luki, I guess I’d say everything is relative. Me, I’m more comfortable in my 6 than in almost any other car. But that’s me 🙂 Slow? Again, depends on your comparison. Same with poor handling. All depends on your expectations.

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  4. Art Fink

    Love those TVR’s. I bought a brand new yellow 2500M in 1973. Not the greatest built car. But, she went around corners as fast as she went straight, handled like a Go-Kart. It was tough getting in and out back then when I was 24. Wouldn’t be able to handle it now in my advanced years. Parts are a bit hard to find, but, for the right price this would be well worth restoring.

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  5. Rich

    TVR. Only because I’ve wanted one since I was a kid.

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  6. JW454

    TR6 for sure. I like the open air of a roadster/convertible in a sports car.

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  7. Nick G

    TR6, because I’m taller than 5′ 9″.

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  8. SunbeamerStu

    Much as I love the TR6, I’d go for the TVR. The unusual factor and better handling.

    (So I hear, have never actually owned or driven a TVR.)

    Can always find another decent 6 if still wanted. Just need to put on that garage extension.

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  9. RayT Member

    TVR all the way. Because I’m a nut case.

    I’ve driven some Brit kit cars — mainly Lotuses — and am convinced this car would essentially need to be taken apart and assembled all over again to smooth out any rough edges from back in the day. You’d probably have to substitute some non-stock parts — to make it work better, not because they’re old and hard-to-find — but I’m okay with that. It’s all part of the fun.

    Besides, I saw a TR6 at the last local car show, and have never seen a TVR in the time I’ve lived here!

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  10. OA5599

    The low-mileage TR6 with overdrive. Looks like you could enjoy it right now. The TVR has promise, but needs a bigger cash/time commitment.

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  11. DAN

    TR-6

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  12. MG'zer

    I’m a big fan of the TR’s. Currently have MG A, Austin Healy and a Triumph Spitfire. Next up TR3. Hope that was clear as to why the TR. Besides when I was in high school the TR7 came out and wow I’ve been hooked ever since

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  13. brakeservo

    Hey – I recently bought a ’65 (TVR) Griffith 200 – and it, uh, needs a bit of work but I think it will be worth the effort. What do you think?? Yes, it came with a 289 V8 and it’s gone awol but these things were faster than Cobras back in the day.

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    • Art Fink

      Greetings, brakeservo, these cars are more rare than the TVR’s. Your car could be a real financial winner if done correctly. FYI, Carroll Shelby had a hand in developing the Griffith back then. Please keep us updated as your project progresses.

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      • brakeservo

        Thank you for your nice words. I think Mark Donahue had actual hands-on input in the development of the Griffith and I suppose Shelby probably had some sort of conversation with Jack Griffith as he was a Cobra race car owning Ford dealer on Long Island when he started building these things. The story is that someone showed up at his Ford dealership in a TVR Grantura and happened to park next to the Cobra. Apparently the hoods on both were popped, a tape measure materialized and from there it went . . .

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    • Alan (Michigan)

      NICE!
      If you are in it “right”, and cautious about how you go about a redo, there is no way you can lose. The market seems to have turned in the upwards direction for the Griffith, and in reality they are quite scarce.

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  14. Fogline

    I like the TVR a lot. The looks and rareness of the car here in the US certainly makes it the most interesting choice. I can’t think of a time I have ever even seen one in person. The comments regarding sizing would have me worried.

    In the end I think the TR6 would win out. The Ronals are a nice addition in my opinion. Of course, the fact my dad had one when I was 12 or something probably would add to the likelihood I would select that. He really enjoyed that car despite all the time it spent in the shop. The appeal of having something more or less ready to drive helps its case as well. The market on these has been strengthening I think over the last several years as well making it possibly a decent investment.

    TR6 for me.

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  15. Healeydays

    TVR all day

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  16. Eric Merkle

    Just look at the TVR. Just LOOK at it. I would buy it just for the pure sex appeal alone. Beautiful car.

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  17. Doug M. (West Coast)

    TR6… such a classic. I have had a few, but need another to go into retirement with. Good price!

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  18. Matt Tritt

    I vote for the TVR. If you’ve never driven one, you can’t imagine how well they perform, and the TR-6 would feel like a Biscane by comparison. By handling, I mean in the curves.

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  19. 55chevy

    Hard to decide, the TR6 is more complete, good price, and are going up in price, but, I also like the uniqueness of the TVR. If the handling is better than the TVR would get the nod.

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  20. Bob S

    Drove a TR6 a couple of weeks ago. Not sure exactly the condition of it, but I couldn’t live with that steering. I’d put an S2000 drivetrain in the TVR. That British lump weighs too much.

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Bob, if the steering felt that bad to you, there was something wrong with it.

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  21. Dan h

    TVR for sure.

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  22. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    The TVR, because of the handling and that fact that it has had lightness added due to the tube frame.

    I do like the looks of the TR6 but they just aren’t for me. Given that, I would do something I don’t usually do.

    I would do an engine transplant, in this case the obvious choice being a warmed up 240/280Z engine like I had in my first 240Z: 280 block with flat top ZX pistons under the original early 240Z E31 head with the big ports, but with the larger 280 valves and seats. Plus a 280 5-speed. It should fit in place of the TR engine since they are both tall and skinny. But I would keep the original drivetrain for the new owner down the road.

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    • Van

      You should check out a BMW 6cyl. Lots of choices, an M3 engine would out perform the Datsun in every way.

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    • Dolphin Dolphin Staff

      Agreed the M3 engine would ourperform even the warmed up 240/280Z engine but…..

      I have an E36 M3 engine in my DD in my shop right now, and a 240Z engine on the floor nearby. The M3 engine/transmission is significantly larger and more heavily built than the 240Z setup, and I doubt it would fit in the TVR engine bay. Too much volume in the M3 headers, DOHC head, and F.I. The 240Z setup is so skinny I know it would fit where the TR6 engine used to be. Also, I don’t think the tube frame of the TVR would survive the torque of the M3 engine.

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      • brakeservo

        Jack Griffith shoe-horned a 289 Ford & 4-speed into a TVR in 1963 – the most radical change was to take a big honkin’ sledge hammer and beat the hell out of the right side chassis tube to clear the V8’s starter motor.. Per Mike Mooney in “The Griffith Years” they had a specific hammer in the shop/factory for precisely that purpose on every Griffith built. And yes, you can see the hammer blows on the frame rail on my car quite clearly now with the motor out. So would fitting the BMW engine really be that big a job and does it have that much more torque than a HiPo 289 of fifty years ago??

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      • Alan (Michigan )

        Go with a complete sacrilege, and install a 13B Turbo. No torque there….

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      • JMB#7

        Darn it, someone had to go an suggest dropping a rotary into the TVR. Now I will be dreaming about that all day. Of all the cars that could be home to a rotary, a TVR would be fantastic.

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  23. Trent Poole

    TVR Definitely. I have wanted a 2500M for long time. Had several TR6s and loved them all. Problem is, with all of the rebuilt and replaced parts the Doc has put in me through the years I don’t think I would be able to get in or out of either car. 🙂

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  24. Eric_10cars Eric Dashman Member

    You’re killing me. I want both of them and they’re close enough for me and my tow dolly. BUT, I’m looking to buy some land to cope with all of the cars I have and want, and haven’t done so just yet.

    A completely rust-free TR6? Really? Run don’t walk. Grab it if you can. Looks like an easy project to create a solid driver. I’m tempted but just can’t right now.

    Even if it’s a southern TVR, after seeing the Wheeler Dealer show where they had to replace the tubular frame, I’d want to be very sure that it was clean. It looks great though, even though it’s a real project. They were awesome drivers if you like go carts.

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  25. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    So I guess it’s time for me to share my preference as promised in the post. Me, I’d go for the TVR as long as I could get into it. But that’s because I already have two TR6’s, a nice one and a project. (yes, that’s cheating). Let us know if any of you pursue either of these finds!

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  26. ZMad

    A little late…
    Good friend loaded a LS1 into a Porsche 944 – and kept it all under the hood – and hooked to the original Porsche transaxle. Apparently there is a conversion kit. Total sleeper. I would love to try that with the TVR.
    Note- In Georgia we do not need title for old cars. Bill of sale and insurance gets you a tag…

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  27. Tom P.

    My choice; TR6! Have loved these cars since teenage years. Remembering a TV show with I think a blue on it. Some sort of cop show.

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  28. Isma

    Hi from Spain:

    I really like have boths in my barn, but the 6 will sleep long while TRV was closed andclosed to wake up the road.

    Very surprised how a lot of you prefer the TRIUMPH

    Regards and good trip

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  29. JMB#7

    If you had $8k and a big enough shop, I say go for both. I had a TR4A and always wanted a TR6. As a matter of fact when I bought the TR4A, I was trying to find a TR6 or a GT6 (in North Carolina). But the TVR shares what I consider a really fun drivetrain, and has the tube frame and fiberglass body. Maybe the TVR is what the GT6 really wanted to be. I have never been in a TVR but at 6′ 1″ I did fit into several GT6 cars. Yes it would take more time to get that TVR up & running and that is a very nice starting point on the TR6, but I vote for the uniqueness of the TVR.

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