1 + 1 + 1/2 = 6? A Fleet Of 3 TR6 Project Cars

Yes, it’s your resident Triumph enthusiast here hoping someone will save these neat project cars. One runs, one used to run (recently), and one is just a body shell. Bring a big truck to Newark, Delaware to pick them up after you’ve purchased them from the auction listing here on eBay. Bidding is starting at $4,000 for all three and there’s no reserve.

This is the first TR6. It’s a 1973 that had been in storage for 27 years prior to the seller purchasing it last year. Supposedly it only has 48,000 miles. There is some rust on the body as you can see from the primer patches. Frame condition is not stated. After the seller changed the fluids, carburetors, fuel line, gas tank and fuel pump, the car is said to run and drive “great” and that the motor and transmission are in very good condition. Unfortunately, this car doesn’t come with a title.

Here is the chassis for the second TR6. This one is a 1974 that has been completely disassembled (but the parts are said to be bagged and labeled) and restoration work has been commenced. The frame is said to be in excellent condition and has been coated with POR15. The body is now sitting on the frame (see first picture, it’s the car at the end of the line) and has some rust.

I don’t know if this is the body shell prior to installation on car two or if this is car three. Either way, this floor, while not perfect, is much better than some TR6’s I’ve refurbished (and both of the ones I currently own).

Car three is said to be just a body shell, based on the commission number I believe it is a 1974 as well. Again, I’m not sure if this is car three, or the shell from car two prior to putting it back on the chassis. Ultimately, it looks like you have enough parts to put together two running Triumphs, with some stuff left over, but of course you’ll need to replace the soft items like weatherstripping and upholstery.

Okay, maybe not all the upholstery. The interior from the white car looks pretty good apart from some damage to the wood dash. While those are readily available, I’ve seem some beautiful and inexpensive results from home enthusiasts re-veneering their own dashes.

Ultimately, you’ll have to be an enthusiast with time or money on their hands (or both) for this to make sense. Perhaps a parent-child project to put two together? I’d be all for that except that my daughter thinks cars are rolling sound systems and is more interested in the radio than in helping me work on cars. Sigh. Anyway, perhaps this is a Triumphant opportunity for you? And no, Howard, no overdrives or British racing green, sorry!


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  1. Howard A Member

    As Jamie is our resident Triumph enthusiast, I guess I’m our resident TR6 “wanna buy”,,,expert. Always hard to put together someone else’s project. Sadly, many get to this point, and for whatever reason, seem to run out of steam ( or resources) I always wonder what happens to these featured projects. Does somebody finally put these things back together, or do they just sit in someone else’s garage. Taking it apart is the easy part. And why no overdrives? Shows how uninformed the public was on that. Should have been standard equipment. Most found that out on their 1st trip down the interstate. Does anybody know how much extra the O/D was? As before, thanks, but must pass again. I’m too old to be busting my knuckles on these types of projects, and someone younger, with the ambition, (and fresh knuckles) probably won’t be interested in this.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Howard, base price for a 1974 TR6 was $4595. Overdrive was a $200 option. At least, that’s the case according to a window sticker I found online.

      • Howard A Member

        I suppose it’s the same old thing, $200 in 1974, was the same as $979 dollars today, but if you look at the bigger picture, that car would cost $22, 495 dollars, so another $1,000, I’d think, would be totally worth it. I guess some balked at that. Hmm, let’s see,,, nice stereo or this dumb overdrive thing.

  2. gary

    I bought my current Spitfire with OD for a song from a “GTO guy” that stated “if the car didn’t have some stupid switch in the gear shift lever screwing up an otherwise fine four on the floor then I could probably get a lot more for it”. Remember that in 74 “four on the floor” ruled. My guess is that a lot of american car guys really weren’t interested in an OD back in those days.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi gary, there it is, you just nailed it. I’m sure many were wary of something called “overdrive”,( not to mention $200 clams) but perfectly accepted a 5 speed.( actually, in my Volvo, made it a 6 speed) Overdrive,,,just sounds scary, like going “over” what you would normally drive. I drove semi’s all my life, yep, even as a kid, and knew all about overdrives.

  3. Yellowtr6

    I just love a “no-reserve” auction with a minimum opening bid.

  4. Melvin Burwell

    Always wanted one of these cars. Was the only British car I liked as a teen. Somebody can get lucky here. Like the british flag on these.

  5. ClassicCarFan

    The question about the over-drive fitment is interesting. Having owned and driven old Triumph sports cars both in the UK and over here in the US – I’ve often wondered why the percentage of cars sold with overdrive is the way it is. If you look at Spitfires, for example, in the UK the majority of them were supplied with the over-drive. I can’t quote the exact numbers but I’d estimate (and you can look online at Spitfire for sale today in the UK) at least 2/3 maybe 3/4 of them do have it. For Spitfires in the US the number is much lower, I’d say maybe 1 in 5 US Spitfires had the overdrive from new, possibly less than that?

    It always seemed to me to be back-to-front bearing in mind the relative wealth and disposable income of the two countries (and large proportion of Triumph exports that went to Southern California which seems like a particularly prosperous region). All relative of course, Britain in the 1960s and 1970s in world terms was hardly impoverished but it would be true to say that the average Triumph customer in the US would have had more to spend on their car so you’d wonder why they did not go the extra few dollars and specify the extremely useful overdrive option? The interstates and typical driving distances in the US compared to the UK should make the overdrive option even more useful, you’d think?

    My personal theory… ( which could be wrong ! ) is that it comes down to how the cars were used. For many buyers in the UK the Triumph would be the only car they owned. They enjoyed it as a fun car but also needed to use it for everyday driving, all year round and for all their driving needs. If the car is being used all the time, and on long as well as short trips, the overdrive is a sensible option. In the US, a car like the Spitfire was much more likely to be a second or third car in the family and was purchased just as a toy for fun driving. They probably didn’t get used as much for longer trips and therefore the overdrive option wasn’t as important? That’s my theory anyway.

    I still own a UK Triumph Spitfire (well, sort of, it’s on permanent loan to my brother in the UK ) which came with an overdrive and I retro-fitted one to my TR4 here in the States during the restoration process. Having driven these cars with the overdrive fitted I really can’t imagine having a Triumph without it.

    Back to this deal for the two and a half TR6…seems like a bargain if the bidding ends up in the $6 – $8k range? As noted, for someone with space to store, the mechanical skills and plenty of time on their hands – this could be a great package. Just make up two functioning cars, keep the one you like best, sell the other and all the spare parts you don’t use to subsidize the project. I’m not in the market for a big project like this myself, and it’s too far from me, but I think someone could do well with this. it seems to me that the TR6 is something of an undervalued classic bargain.

  6. Jubjub

    Call me sick but I really dig the funky, ’70s, earthtone stripes!

    QOTD goes to Howard A: Hmm, let’s see,,, nice stereo or this dumb overdrive thing.

  7. ccrvtt

    While walking the dog in downtown Indy I came across a TR6 rotting away in an alley. I went back several times but could not convince myself that it would be a Good Idea to find out how much the (obviously negligent) owner would take for this perforated British bomb. TR6s are just going to get more desirable like XK-Es and Austin Healeys (priced one of those lately?) but it would sure would be nice to start out with a minimum of rust. Love these cars. Good find.

  8. Allen Member

    One point about overdrive not made yet in this discussion – is the question of availability. I have owned a TR6 (without o/d, of course!), but most of my experience is with MGs – notably MGBs. BMC, and later, BL shipped relatively few O/D cars to the colonies. It may have been an option, but not a readily available one. What do you suppose would have been the waiting time if you wanted an MGB or TR6 with overdrive?

    Americans were certainly familiar with overdrives. ‘ Think they were all Borg-Warner units: my dad’s ’37 DeSoto, his ’48 Studebaker, his ’51 Mercury, my ’53 Plymouth, my ’64 Chevy. They all worked the same way: you pushed the cable lever in about 5″, you got free wheeling below O/D cut-in speed (28 mph?). In free-wheeling mode, you could shift gears without the clutch. And then at some speed over 28 mph, you let up on the gas and it would shift into overdrive, and there was a kick-down switch under the gas pedal; if you floored it, it would kick down out of O/D, feeling like the fabled “passing gear” on early ’50s automatics. I thought everybody knew about overdrives back then.

    Overdrive should have been standard issue on all British cars exported to the US. That was a major error on the part of those manufacturers. But I’m guessing they avoided the O/D to keep prices down. Base prices on Mustangs, Corvairs, Barracudas, even Falcons and Valiants were close enough in price that they looked like monstrously better values here on the left side of the pond. Knocking $200 off the base price no doubt was a big incentive. No doubt buyers just didn’t understand what they were missing. My guess is that Hambro told the dealers to soft-pedal the O/D option.

    I had a new ’59 Morris Minor, and VW style, I drove it full-speed always on the interstates – while tolerating the incredible scream coming from under the bonnet. Of course I wore the poor thing out in about 70,000 miles. I’d love to have another MM, but first thing I’d do would be to install 1275, five-speed box and a 3.9 rear end.

    After 33 years of driving O/D MGBs, I still love playing with the O/D. Back in SW Virginia mountains, I’d often find myself driving for hours in the 35-50 mph speed range. Steep climbs with or without tight turns, third-gear with or without O/D was the answer. I could drive sometimes two hours without touching the shift lever.

    • john C

      We have a ’66 AH Sprite, and it does very well on Lambsburg road, a mountain road with those great curves we like to straighten out… heading down from SW Va. towards Mount Airy…

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        John, are you coming down for the Gathering this year (April in Dobson) — if so, stop by and say “Hi!” I’m the auctioneer for Friday night and usually do announcements at the tent all day Saturday.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Allen, spot on. Keeping in mind, the speed limit in those days here was 55 mph, and non-O/D cars were adequate. It wasn’t until interstate travel ( @ 75 mph) became the norm, these fell behind. I doubt there was any shortage of O/D units, just more like you say, not an issue at the time. My ’71 MGB came without, put on almost 150K miles on it, before getting a low mileage engine and trans with O/D out of a wreck. It overnight, transformed the 3250 rpm @65, to 2750. Made a huge difference in driving.

  9. Allen Member

    John C!

    SW Virginia? Near Blacksburg? I lived there for 30 years and ’twas there I discovered my passion for MGs. Belong to British Auto Club of SW VA? I’ve been in Michigan for 11 years but still keep up my membership.

    North Street, Michigan

  10. johninfla Member

    Of all the cars I’ve owned in my lifetime ranging from the lowliest economy cars to Rolls-Royce the TR6 has always been one of my favorite! It was fun, quick, had loads of character and had a great sound to it. If I get around to starting a collection one day this would be at the top of the list…..

  11. Allen Member


    I had totally forgotten about the 55 mph national speed limit back in those days. And I do recall that for those who observed the speed limits, the cars served well without O/D, although O/D might have improved fuel economy. In fact, with the MGB, the engine noise doesn’t bother me at speeds below 3500 rpm. That allows speeds up to 63 mph without unseemly noise (18 mph/1000 rpm). Under the circumstances, I’m sure demand for O/D units was reduced.


  12. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Sold for $4,350!

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