A-peeling Coupe: 1969 Triumph GT6+

1969-triumph-gt6

When the Triumph Spitfire debuted in 1962, the fact that it had the small 1147cc Herald-based engine didn’t matter to a market hungry for an Italian-styled pretty little sports car. Unlike its main competitors (the Austin-Healey Sprite/MG Midget tandem) the Spitfire featured wind up windows and independent rear suspension. Unfortunately, the swing-axle IRS came from the Herald and had some handling vices when pushed hard. Cries for more power came quickly. Happily, a smooth 6-cylinder, 2000cc version of the engine as used in the 2000 Mk. I sedan and estate was sitting on the Standard-Triumph shelf. Why not put the two together? The result could be yours from this ebay auction submitted by Barn Finds reader Jim S.

triumph-inline-six

Triumph used the engine in a prototype convertible known as the “Fury” in 1965. For various reasons, possibly including the similar-looking fastback Spitfires that ran at LeMans in 1964 and 1965, a fastback version of the Spitfire was eventually chosen to handle the 6-cylinder engine. Unfortunately, when the GT6 debuted in 1966, the additional front end weight and power highlighted the Spitfire’s perceived handling issues. As a serial Spitfire owner, I can attest to the interesting handling of early models when driven spiritedly.

1969-triumph-gt6-rear

Triumph’s answer was the GT6+ (known as the GT6 Mk. II in the rest of the world) which featured a completely redesigned rear suspension, including a lower wishbone and rubber/metal doughnuts on the half shafts. If they were good enough for Colin Chapman’s Elan, they were good enough for Triumph! The ad for this example claims a year old 7 restoration with twice yearly starts since. Very little rust appears in the pictures and even the commonly rusted floors look solid. However, I’d want to check the sills just in front of the rear wheels where this model commonly rusts. More troubling is what appears to be bare body filler on the right rear fender and peeling clearcoat over the entire car.

gt6-interior

While not original, the interior is probably serviceable for a driver if the red/black color scheme suits you. I have seen nice results from refinishing the original veneered dash, and the padded dash top can be recovered in vinyl or with a hard plastic aftermarket cover. A fiberglass transmission tunnel has replaced the original cardboard one.

gt6-hood

The engine bay appears largely stock except for paint, a few odd components, and a wiring harness covered with corrugated tubing. One direction to go with this car would be to source a Spitfire body and create a “Spit-6” as many enthusiasts have done. The GT6 was never offered as a convertible, presumably as it would have been too close to the TR series, but it would be a shame to abandon what seems to be a fairly solid shell of a rarer model just to have a convertible. What would you do?

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Comments

  1. Chris Beebe

    Maybe it’s the yard or area this car sits, even the fence is peeling. I varnished over the faded paint of an old Toyota I had, just to bring it a summer of shine, and it looked like this a couple of years later.

  2. Kyle Darby

    I think this car is worth a go. It’s missing a few bits, the chrome trims for the side marker lights, the vent cover on the left side, the vacuum advance/retard canister. It had amco bars on it at one time evidenced by the small holes in the bumper. Find replacements and reinstall. The front bumper looks good, as does the center of the bonnet. Floors look good as well. I think this would be a better car to be rebuilt as a GT6 than a spit6. They don’t come more solid than this one. As for price, it’s a hard market to read as the prices have started going up in just the last couple of years. Used to be a really nice car was $10k, but they have been going up. The biggest concern here is what will be found under the peeling paint… or just wash it, wax it, and drive it like you stole it for a couple of years. They are great balanced cars and I miss driving mine. Kyle.

  3. Dolphin Member

    This California GT6+ definitely looks like a worthy car to bring back, but listings like this are frustrating and a bit scary. The car is in a dealer’s inventory, with a years-ago restoration claimed but ‘never completed’, and it doesn’t really look like it. No documentation is mentioned, there is no mileage stated, and a clean title is supposed to go with the car but it will need to be applied for and then take quite a few days. All the while the buyer is waiting…..will the title actually come thru?? I’ve been there on the waiting end and it’s no fun. And I would want to check out the quality of the engine and brake rebuilds.

    The way I look at this, what the seller really has is a pretty good old GT6+ that has been sitting in the CA sun for most of its life and had some work done 7 years ago. But that’s way better than it having slogged around in the rust belt picking up….rust. And if it all checks out this could be a fairly straightforward car to rescue, especially if the claimed work was done well. Looks like people agree since it’s bid to almost $5K after only a bit more than a day, and it’s a non-reserve auction, so it will sell.

    With a car like this, leave it in this configuration. It’s rare, the best GT6, and with the extra torque of the 6 cylinders it should have the rigidity of the roof.

    • Richard V

      I agree 100% on needing the rigidity of the roof to handle the extra torque, and weight, of the 6. When I owned my British car shop I worked on quite a number of these and, in spite of being a Brit car lover to this day, was never that impressed with them. The Spit was one of the most “rattly” cars I’ve experienced, one needed to keep the bonnet stops replaced and adjusted constantly to keep it quiet. Would I own a GT6+ today, though? Hell yeah!

  4. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Gotta agree that I would leave this particular one as a GT6, although I admit the idea of a Spit-6 has its appeal. Most of the GT6’s I see for sale have real rust issues, which this car doesn’t (at least from the pictures).

  5. Rob

    Wish the title “California car” did not imply that it is rust free. California is a big place, many of the cars on the coast are (rusted). My Aunt and Uncle lived at Manhattan Beach and they had to replace the hinges of the windows on their house many many times over the years. On the other hand the GT6 is a wonderful driving car. With the six cylinder they are smooth and quiet. Most now though don’t have all the insulation and factory carpets etc. I owned one for many years and loved every minute. The transmission was the only weak link, very weak. Oversize wheels and tires can break the hubs so anyone going to do that, don’t:) I had slightly changed the arc of the transverse leaf spring added koni shocks applied good tires and it was all ready for the mountain roads. Today I think you can convert to a Toyota transmission as with the TR6 with the applicable aftermarket bell housing.
    Something seems funny with the paperwork on this car. Perhaps they have lost track of the guy with the pen who can sign it off.

  6. guggie

    on a rainy sunday nite in 1968 I was leaving Philly in my 68 Cortina gt 1600 ,upon entering I95 I tangled with a TR6 , with a guy and girl in it , I was alone and figured it to be easy , well was I ever wrong , got my clock cleaned and I mean fast , never underestimated a TR6 after that !

  7. Nova

    It is nice to see that they haven’t blown “pixie dust” over the car for the Barnfind illusion!

    But!

    “In a Dealers inventory” Hmmm…A lot of grey answers to black and white questions.
    As a “Dealer” I would say their own technicians have reviewed and assessed the car.

    If it only required a carb “adjustment” (or a rebuild) and the brakes bled, these are simple steps to backup the stated NEW condition.

    That said any potential buyer should expect the worse and bid as such…Buyers remorse is bad enough let alone, the cost of shipping AND the realization of a misrepresented item.

    Just my two cents

  8. Henrie

    I like the word-play in the caption . Ha Ha.

  9. Cameron Bater UK

    This actually looks in fair knick, it’d be perfect for a retirement restoration and cruiser, needs a re-spray but I don’t see why that would be a problem (a bit expensive perhaps) but not problematic. The only issue I can think of with these is they had a problem that was also shared with the Jaguar (Jagwar) E-Type; their whole front end is a bonnet making the front of the engine inacessible unless you remove it as a peice but if you were going to have it re-sprayed then you could just ask the shop not to re-fit the bonnet.

  10. Dan

    I worked in a foreign (read: European) repair shop in the late 1960s and early 70s. A GT6 (Git sick, as we called it) was a very, very regular customer. It was, to put it bluntly a POS. Worse, it was a nightmare for the poor mechanic who was stuck with it (usually me, bottom man on the pole). Among other things, the #6 plug was totally inaccessible, and required that the engine either be dropped or pulled. Needless to say, most times only 5 plugs were changed.

    The time period was one when British cars were at their very, very worst. I wouldn’t touch a Git Sick (arguably the worst of the worst) with a barge pole.

    • jwh

      Take a look at the pictures. All of the spark plugs look to be very accessible. I had a GT6 for a bit. It had issues with its undercarriage as a result of a previous owner having high centered it on a median. But the car was a really nice little vehicle. It is a British sports car so it will never be as bullet proof as a Honda Accord, but it will return a lot of pleasure for a little bit of upkeep effort. This one looks to me to be a good place for a person to start a collection. Many of these cars have collected too much rust to be salvageable. This one looks pretty solid to me.

  11. Rob

    DAN…Gee whiz they (GT6) aren’t meant to be American muscle. If you look after the car instead of waiting for things to break sure they will fall apart. As for can’t access the #6 spark plug… umm wrong car I think. The whole engine of the GT6/Spitfire can be worked on at the side of the road (yes I know what you’re going to say) and you can even sit on the wheel as a chair. At least with the fragile nature of these cars you can work on them with ease.

    jwh….Totally agree. Smooth quiet good brakes (for the day) handle very well with koni’s and are really easy to get to all the spark plugs AND everything else. Even the transmission can just be lifted out through the passenger door. I did it twice.
    Liked my GT6 a lot.

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