Reader’s Quest For A Brawny Sports Car

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Barn Finds reader Mark V. is sharing a car search with us and asking for readers’ help. He writes:  Spring is around the corner and I would love a brawny British TR6 open top sports car. Here’s a round-up of some available now on craigslist:

First the ones that the owners admit are projects. That is worrying as even the best 40 year old British car is going to be a bit of a project…

69-1

1969 TR6. $2,000 ask here on craigslist. Motivated seller.

73-1

1973 TR6. $4,800 ask here on craigslist. A decent project? The engine issue is a worry.

73-2

1973 TR6. $5,500 ask here on craigslist. Significant work appears in the foggy photos to have been attempted. I think this one is optimistically priced. What is the deal with the photos? Too much work for me.

75-1

1975 TR6. $8,750 ask here on craigslist. Not too “projecty”. Price might be a bit high? Might be a good one IF not rusty. 

72-1

1972 TR6. $1,200 ask here on craigslist. I think I see rust on this one from the photos taken at a bit of a distance. I would pass. I would not be one of those who made “requests for just the body”. If those people actually existed and were willing to pay money (real USD) for the body why hasn’t our seller taken that money and moved along? 

72-2

1972 TR6. $6,500 ask here on craigslist. Needs paint so I would likely pass.

Mark continues:  Ok, so if I bought a project and worked on it and enjoyed it for a summer, what would I need to keep my spending below to hope to sell in a year’s time and break even? Here are a few craigslist nice cars that need less (or really little to nothing):

74-1

1974 TR6. $14,000 ask here on craigslist. White: seems to need little. Note: this is in my (Jamie’s) hometown; if someone is serious and needs me to look at it I’d be happy to, and I’ve owned numerous TR6’s.

75-2
1975 TR6. $7,950 ask here on craigslist. Blue.

76-1
1976 TR6. $17,500 ask here on craigslist. Green: exterior paint does not match the BRG under hood. It’s a niggle. But it isn’t quite right. Will it sell for this? Or $13 to $15K? 

73-3
1973 TR6. $42,000 ask here on craigslist. Blue: this one defies logic. I don’t see it ever selling at that price. No matter how much the seller has into it! “Sir! Step away from the crack pipe!”

76-2

1976 TR6. $21,950 ask here on craigslist. Dealer.

I suspect that being into one that is nice, cleaned up, running sweetly, detailed etc. for $10 to $12K is the top of where I would want to be. I would prefer some headroom and so the blue Texas car or the white Washington DC cars might be the first calls I make. Anyone know of other available?

Mark

Can any Barn Finds readers help Mark with his quest? I’m going to add one:

72-3

This is a 1972 for sale here on craigslist in Raleigh, North Carolina. I know the car well, I know the owner well (who is donating the proceeds from the sale to charity) and I know the mechanics who worked on it very well and it’s one of the nicest TR6’s I’ve ever seen. I don’t know exactly what they are looking for out of the car, but it might be worth contacting them to find out. What classic car searches are you currently on? Let us know in the comments, or if you have a tip to find Mark a TR6, tell us that too!

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Comments

  1. Doug M. (West Coast) Member

    Great rundown! What about the neighbor in Idaho with the garages full of them? Are those surfacing yet? I’ll take one.

  2. JW454

    In the project cars I’d pick the maroon ’72. It needs paint but for the people that can do that themselves it makes it a no brainer. The miles are good and the rest of the car is nearly road ready.
    In the “road ready” cars I’d pick the blue ’75. The price seems reasonable and it seems to need very little to be ready for the road and enjoy. The miles are low and it’s had some significant work done.
    The price of the blue ’73 has surpassed the market and is approaching the upper stratosphere. I hope the owner gets the mental help he needs.
    Lastly, the Maroon ’72 at the bottom cannot be compared to anything here as the price seems to be a big secret. Without that information…apples and oranges.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      @JW454 — agreed on not knowing the price of the one at the bottom. I’m trying to find out; I think they had it in at one point but I don’t see it now.

      • JW454

        Yes Jamie, As a matter of research, I went to the web site and it was not listed there either.

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      The Maroon one needing paint has my vote.

      While I’m a big British car guy, these always seemed to be “a day late and a dollar short”. The engine design was farm like and and the styling was rehashed from previous models.

      Triumph finally had a competitor to the Big Healey and it ends up getting smogged on its way to the U.S., the Brits managed to get the faster, more powerful version.

      Liked the TR250 better.

      But if you really want TR6, get the maroon one. Ditch the intake with the Zenith-Stranglebergs for a triple SU manifold out of the UK, then get it painted. Hopefully it has an overdrive, makes the car much more useful and fun.

  3. Dolphin Member

    Mark, Two practical questions.

    1) Have you ever driven a TR6? Do you know that you will like the car? I ask because the TR6 looks good, in a brawny Brit way. But do you know that you like the driving dynamics? I liked the looks of the TR6, but once I had driven a couple I knew I would never own one because the driving dynamics just weren’t for me. If you haven’t driven one, find a good one near you and drive it. Best also to drive alternatives like a good MGB and even a good BMW Z3. I think the Z3 will cost no more than a TR6 or MGB in comparable condition but is better on the road in every way. You should at least use a drive in a Z3 as a comparison point in your search.

    2) The cars you found on CL are from everywhere around the country. How will you evaluate the cars since you probably can’t evaluate more than 1 or 2 of the closest ones. Comparing cars from CL ads can be fun, but when they are scattered 100s or 1000s of miles from each other and you, trying to choose between them isn’t practical.

    If you haven’t got lots of time and money on your hands, or much experience driving sports cars, the first step is to drive a lot of cars to see which make/model you like, and then to see how good some can be, and how bad neglected ones can be. Then once you have done that you are better able to narrow down your search.

    One way to do that is to use http://www.searchtempset.com to search CL around the country for the make/model of car you want. You can set a distance limit so that you will get results from places within a certain distance from you. Because your candidiate TR6s are from such a wide area I’m guessing that you probably used http://www.searchtempest.com to find the cars you are considering. I would narrow the distance setting and then go and look at and drive as many cars as you can. Once you do that you will be in a better position to make a choice. If you can take a friend along who has experience with the car you are considering that can be a big help.

  4. tommy d

    i have a tr250 ill take 2,000 for just needs a starter and carb rebuild to run does have a little rust on corner of floorpan but is very minor

  5. van

    Don’t think
    Don’t pass go
    Get the TR 250

  6. van

    Where Is Tommy D?

    Choice 2
    Find 69 or 70 GT6+
    Do body swap with spitfire
    If you add wire wheels this is so much like an E-type
    Same engine as tr250
    The GT6 + has fully independent rear suspension, and better brakes than the spit.
    A body swap is much easier than upgrading the spitfire.
    Anybody can buy a TR6
    Nut up and have more fun I say

    • tommy d

      midland tx

  7. tommy d

    located in Midland Texas

  8. SunbeamerStu

    Everyone should own a TR6 at least once in their lives.

    Brawny little fun rattletraps.

    There are better handling cars. Faster cars. Flashier cars. But wherever you go, you’ll gather plenty of smiles and thumbs-up with the 6.

    To me, the TR250 looks like it’s stuck in the ’50’s. Under its skin the TR6 is also mostly ’50’s, but there’s something about its updated body style that hit the nail on the head. It’s a beauty.

    Buy it, have fun with it for a year or 3, and then move on to something else fun and impractical.

    GT6 is also a beauty car. Swap it for a Spitfire body and you have… a faster Spitfire. Nothing wrong with that, Spitties are cool looking, too. But it still can’t beat the looks of a clean, stock TR6.

  9. SSPBill

    I ran a ’72 GT6 during my college years. I always said it was the least reliable, reliable car I ever owned. Just about everything broke but could be fixed in minutes at not a lot of expense. With that experience, my advise is prioritize body/frame condition, suspension, driveline/electrical then engine last. Some rust is ok and expected. But too much is too much and there is most likely to be a better option out there. Suspension is simple enough but will nickel and dime you. Driveline and electrical again are simple but if bad gets pricey. The engine should be the least of your concern assuming you’re buying to restore yourself. They run just like the tractor engine they came from. Sometimes just as smokey.

    That all being said the blue ’75 looks too good to be true. Personally I’d take a TR250 over a TR6 on looks but that’s just me

  10. angliagt

    I’ve seen the Red one for $1200,here in Eureka,CA –
    RUN the other way from that one.The body’s not even worth saving.

    – Doug

  11. van

    So I worked at an English car shop in 1980-81 one day I drove a TR6 and then a Jensen Healy. Don’t get me wrong I am a Triumph guy but no comparison. The Healy rode better, handed better, had more room, and more power. This car may have been a 1974.
    I know what you’re thinking, van’s lost his mind. Yes today a jensen is a $3,000 dollar car when the tr6 is $10,000 in the same condition. Has anyone had a similar experience.

    • Dolphin Member

      van, I haven’t had experience with a Jensen Healey, but I recall that they did well in SCCA racing back when they were current.

      But I have had experience with TR6s and think they are beautiful to look at. The body was done by an Italian designer, after all—-Michelotti, IIRC. But the chassis and drive train are ancient in comparison to a lot of other cars, and they don’t handle very sharply. I think part of that is the fat tires they have, but part of it is just an old, narrow suspension design with a compromised IRS that was added to an earlier conventional frame. And every TR6 I have driven has an uncomfortable gearbox, with different throw action for different gears. Also underpowered, especially the later years. I think they were designed when some British car companies were just trying to stay in the good markets, like the US, and didn’t have the money or resources to come up with a new, better car.

      Despite all that they are nice cars to just cruise around in on sunny days, they have a great mellow 6-cylinder sound, and they seem brawny even if they aren’t. I think all that is part of what gives them a lot of their value today over a car like the Jensen Healey. But for canyon carving there are other cars I would prefer.

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        I can help a little here, having a lot of both TR6 and Jensen-Healey experience. To begin with, they are cars from different eras, despite being sold against each other. Walrus is right about the “conventional” body on frame for the TR6, and although the handling can be completely transformed with suspension modifications (look at goodparts.com), stock they are a bit rubbery, especially on the tall tires they came with from the factory. I do differ with him regarding the gearbox; I’ve never had a bad shifting one as long as the parts were intact. However; the Jensen-Healey doesn’t rattle anywhere near as much, has much more suspension travel and is very competent in general driving. The Lotus 4 doesn’t have the low end grunt of the Triumph 6, but given Dellortos or Webers it will rev happily and moves the car along well. If you get a later model it will have a nice 5-speed; the early 4-speed was never offered with overdrive but it can be retrofitted and makes for a nice package. BTW, Karmann is responsible for turning the Michelotti-designed TR4/4A/5/250 lines into the TR6; the Italian was too busy working on the Stag & Spitfire and 2000/2500 facelifts. Also, yes, Van, you can get to 150 hp with a cam change, mild head work and a free-flowing exhaust and one of the many carb/fuel injection options now available. Personally, I like the triple Strombergs on Goodparts manifolds, but I digress.

        There’s one thing that the J-H will never have; the glorious TR6 exhaust note. I don’t know what it is about that note, but it still sends chills up my spine more than 30 years after my first one (I have 2 6’s now and 2 other cars that use the same engine).

      • Jack Long

        The TR4 was styled by Michelotti but the TR6 was done by Karmann (of Ghia fame). Only the doors were unchanged so Michelotti could still claim those 😄

      • Dolphin Member

        Although it’s true that Michelotti was busy with other projects and wasn’t available to do a redesign of his TR4/TR5 (top) to create the TR6 (bottom), I would give him more credit for the TR6 than I would Karmann.

        Not really a surprise since the same chassis and drivetrain was used along with the same windshield frame and the same long, tall engine, so the basic size and shape of the TR6 body was defined by the TR4/5 body.

  12. van

    So the home market cars have 150 hp
    They also had fuel injection
    If you up compression and install a mild cam
    Can you get 150 hp hear?

  13. David

    I’ve owned 3 TR6’s since the early 80’s and it is the one car that I always regret selling and end up buying another one. Yes they are rudimentary and ride like a lumber wagon, but in smiles per mile they’ve got it in spades. Nothing better than running down a country road with the straight 6 pulling strongly. I find the gearbox just fine. The combination of a full frame chassis, oversize wheels and to me, great front geometry is perfect and I would willingly turn down more modern sports cars.
    My current TR6 is an early 1970 model, and I always would seek out one prior to mid-year 1972. The only thing I miss on mine is the early overdrive But for all the ones shortlisted here, the bargain is the 1975 blue Texas one. Shows pride of ownership and the right TR6 stance that is hard to replicate on a poorly maintained one. I could even overlook the overriders.

  14. Greg f

    Greg
    I owned a 73 tr 6 for over five years and loved it. I was very lucky with a all the road trips my wife and I went on I only had one breakdown where the distributor wire ground broke off and was only a few blocks from home. I decided to up grade but loved the roadster feel and now own a 2007 saturn sky redline and we take even longer road trips now. Good luck on your purchase and if you get one make sure you join your local tr club

  15. van

    I’m loving this dialog
    Want to hear more about triple carbs and fuel injection on a tr
    Also want to know more about the jensen
    Always looking for bang for your buck
    And anybody that hasn’t seen it should check out British V8 .com

    • SumbeamerStu

      I had a TR6. Good buddy had a JH. The Healey would run circles around my Triumph.

      The JH’s Lotus engine was beauty. Had a 8000rpm redline, as I recall. Was a better car all-around.

      But the Healey had no soul. Style-wise, it is a confusing beast. Ugly, even. At least to my eye. Others seem to agree as a Jensen in good shape is only worth about 1/4 what a decent TR6 will bring.

      Personally, I’d stick with the Triumph. Slower and more primitive, yet somehow more better.

      • van

        I’m so confused

  16. jim s

    have you given any thought to the Barnfinds TVR? as to the TR6 i too think you should drive one first, but that advice applies to any vehicle your thinking about buying . then deside if you want to work on it then drive or start with a driver. have fun.

  17. S.Brodie

    A TR6 without overdrive is a severely crippled car. The old pushrod sixes these cars came with don’t like high revs. Bought a ’74 Mimosa (Yellow) TR6 w OD that was good for 117 MPH absolutely flat out in 4th OD. Drove it to 18000 miles and sold it for what I’d paid for it. My suggestion is to buy one with a dead engine (shouldn’t be hard to find) get an early 289 Ford (they are different and weigh more after ’66) buy a tremec 5 speed and away you go. In ’74 even the Mazda trucks were beating me in races. A built up 289 won’t weigh more than the old cast iron six tractor engines that these cars came out with. The Leecock de Normanville (sp?) was not the best but a Tremec 5 speed. Some Flowmasters for the sound and then you’ve got a car. I’ve seen the odd one for sale on ebay and know they would be twice the car than the original British Leyland dated powertrain. To have a sharp looking sportscar with no guts is not prime mental space. My opinion and advice to you.

  18. monsieur le baton

    worth a look on beverlyhills car club too – they have 3 tr6’s from $4k to $8.5k – great to compare all the photos, and see common rust spots etc – http://www.beverlyhillscarclub.com/inventory.htm

  19. Barzini

    This would make a good regular feature, like the “House Hunters” TV show but for cars where you can predict which car is bought.

  20. van

    A V8 tr6 just seams odd
    Theirs a guy in Cleveland GA that puts bmw 6cl in triumphs and MGS
    Less weight, more power, better mileage
    Seems like a fantastic option

  21. Howard A Member

    I never really thought of a TR-6 as being “brawny”. That honor would go to the Jag. A “6” is just an old-fashioned, 6 cylinder sports car. I too want a “6” for my “bucket ride” around the country. As evidenced, prices are all over the map for these. I have a friend in Oregon that got one at a charity auction, and got it cheap. They aren’t rare by any means, but finding a good one will take some sorting out. 1st, stay away from wire wheels. While they look sharp, my MGB had wires, and I’ll never get them again. 2nd, as stated, O/D is an absolute must. My MG didn’t have O/D at first, but I installed one ( @ 120K miles) and it changed the car dramatically. 3rd, try and find one with a removable hardtop. They look stylish ( not like the bulbous kind that was on my MG, but still nice for fall rides) And lastly, I hope you are handy with tools. You’ll need them.

  22. Doug Towsley

    Maybe poke around in this graveyard~!

  23. van

    No takers MTR6 3.0

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