British Bargain? $900 1973 Triumph Stag

This 1973 Triumph Stag is a seriously cheap opportunity to own a short-lived British grand tourer that featured a SOHC V8 that ultimately led to the company’s decision to end its short-lived residence on U.S. shores. Fortunately, if you’ve had nightmares about maintaining one, this example has already been stripped of its engine and transmission. The seller claims his $900 asking price is worth the value of alloy wheels alone, so check it out here on Facebook Marketplace if you agree with him and see an opportunity to restore it or part it out for a profit.

When you read up on the history of the Stag, it certainly seemed to have a lot going for it. From its styling to the removable roof to a soulful V8 engine, on paper the Stag should have been an immediate home run. Unfortunately, that same V8 proved to generate so many warranty claims that Triumph could barely keep its head above water when it came time to address owner issues, which ranged from bad headgaskets to overheating to slipped timing chains and more. The usual precautionary tale applies here, which is to buy one from an owner that knows and loves the model.

This example features the optional Borg-Warner automatic (well, it did – the shifter assembly is still there), which was an ideal pairing for the torquey V8 and the Stag’s road manners, curated for a grand touring lifestyle. The Stag in this case may seem like a big undertaking given its missing drivetrain, but the interior appears to be in very nice shape with clean bucket seats and door panels. There is some rust noted in the floors, but by the seller’s description, this is by no means a rusty example. Some small spots are noted in the trunk as well.

The bib question with this example is what do you do with it? While there’s always legions of car fanatics proposing to part vehicles out for some easy money, that money rarely comes quickly and you have a parts car in your garage or driveway in the meantime. I’d like to see this example come back to life, and there are likely any number of engines that can be swapped in and easily paired with a Borg-Warner transmission – and certainly, a V8 with a better track record for reliability would be a great way to start this project off on the right foot.

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  1. Howard A Member

    Always liked the Stag. Kind of a Spitfire on steroids. I’d probably do like a 4.3 V6 and GM automatic O/D trans, probably eliminate 3/4’s of the problems of the original. For a couple grand, you’d have a sweet cruiser.

    Like 11
    • Vegaman Dan

      Ditto. 4.3L V6, AT with OD. Fuel injection. Maybe snag it out of a 2WD Astro van or pickup. Motor mounts will need to be fabricated, but very doable. That interior looks very good and that price is entirely too tempting. I need to finish my 68 Mk3 Spitfire before I consider new projects.

      Like 4
  2. That AMC Guy

    Maybe install the ex-Buick aluminum V8 that Triumph should have used in the first place.

    Like 25
  3. CJinSD

    A look at the photos on facebook reveals a car that might disintegrate on the trailer ride home. All that is holding it together is paint.

    Like 6
  4. Steve Bush Member

    Always thought these were sharp cars. Too bad Triumph thoroughly botched the engine from start to finish. Wiki page for the Stag claims British Leyland had 2500 dealers in the UK at that time. This seems impossible as Ford and Chevy have about 3000 dealers apiece in the US which is 40 times larger than the UK. Maybe one of you guys know something about this.

    • ken tilly UK

      Hi Steve Bush. I have been on the Internet trying to find the answer to your question re the supposed 3000 dealers for BL cars back in the seventies. I can find no record of the amount of dealers UK wide but it wouldn’t surprise me if the number was correct as just about every little town in UK has a dealership of some kind, although not as you guys would know it, as it would most likely be attached to a local petrol station or garage workshop.

      Like 8
    • Howard A Member

      Maybe 2500 dealers worldwide.

      Like 1
    • Nick

      Latter day Triumphs broke down far more often than American cars. Far more often. Maybe enough to account for the dealers. ?

      Like 1
  5. Wayne Thomas

    An interesting swap would be a Triumph 2.4L Rocket III I3 engine. It’d remain Triumph and be sufficient power.

    Like 1
  6. Mike

    HA… I sold these New…. as far as Im concerned.. they were junk right off of the
    car carrier.. You talk about Electrical Problems… this car had them all.. the
    engine would run good… if you could get the electronics to the point as to where it would run… we used to call them funny cars… because every Monday Morning.. they were lined up outside of the service dept.. waiting their turn… Electrical issues…were the downfall of British Leyland cars…

    Like 5
  7. jerry z

    There was a show in UK restoring a Stag and showed all the weak points and upgraded them all.

    Never dealt with a bill of sale car. How much trouble getting a title if you buy out of state.

    Like 2
  8. Scott

    I have two letters for you…L S !

    Like 3
    • ken tilly UK

      @Scott. This is the first time that I have ever agreed with the comment, LS!

      Like 2
  9. Allen Member

    I have a friend who has owned a Stag with original engine for perhaps 40 years. He says the engine is no problem at all if you just maintain it carefully to avoid overheating.

    Regarding wheels: these are the same as MGB LE wheels. You can buy ’em new from Moss for $230 each. Yep, about $900 ($920 to be exact). I had a set on my B/GT – ‘ found nice used ones for about $100 each.

    I can’t judge how the electricals were on these cars when new. One uses a totally different standard with a collector-car. Problems that I can readily accept and repair on a 40-60 year old car would probably be pretty upsetting when just driven off the showroom floor.

    Like 1
  10. John

    I suspect a Triumph Stag is never a bargain.

    Like 3
  11. Alexco

    I have seen the Buick 215 put in a number of these with a Ford Mustang 5 speed. There are the electrical problems for sure but once those gremlins are routed out, decent driving car. Remember the electrical in these cars are not very complicated.

    Like 3
    • ROARRR

      If you changed the drivetrain you’d not need any ELECTRONICS –electrics like light switches and gas gauge are all standard stuff–if you know nothing about such things stick to what you can buy–preferably new AMERICAN.

      Like 2
  12. Bill McCoskey

    I had a customer with a Stag, it had serious head gasket issues as well as timing gear problems that led to him parking the car for about 10 years. At the same time I had a Triumph TR 6 that had sustained a major fire from the firewall rearward.

    In my research into Stags, I learned that they were originally designed to have the TR 6 drive train. I stuck the TR 6 engine & trans into the stag, with very few problems.

    Like 4
  13. Claudio

    Another LS volunteer
    New engine , new transmission and a custom fuse box wiring and you have yourself a beautiful unique reliable stag , otherwise its just another slug …

    Like 2
  14. bachldrs Member

    Fusebox????? Fusebox!!! What on God’s Green Earth could be wrong with a Lucas fusebox? I’ve been fussing with Lucas-equipped British cars for close to 40 years and I’ve NEVER suffered a failure traceable to anything near a fusebox!

    Like 2
    • JagManBill

      what ever it was ALWAYS shorted out and burned up long before it got to the fuse box…

      Like 1
  15. chrlsful

    AMCGuy/Alexco got it right (if U can get 1, s4!+, I’d put that motor in just about any small GT type car). But I’d tend to what I know – a built 260 & a T5 (may B turbo). As I remember (no pic here) they were a lill bigger than the others (brits’ sport cars)? Might B nice drivin as rebuilt. Not sure I’d drive it much after, have to see…might fall in love?

  16. Van Cardwell

    I had a 71 stag for years. Original V8 automatic.
    I bought another one for parts with a TR6 engine and four speed.
    Both sounded fantastic with glass packs.
    Sweet driving car with enough power to be fun.
    I drove the V8 car at Road Atlanta in an English car club event.
    The people in charge of the track had no idea what the capabilities were.
    They put 6 or 8 cars on the track at a time spaced out to improve safety. Cars go every 10-15 seconds, until me. I’m waiting for 30 seconds as the car ahead disappears. I’m a muscle car nut so I have to go, fast. Early on the back straight, TR7 gone. Just before the bridge TR3 gone. I’m in heaven listening to the old bean howling. Through the S,s you realize the track is smooth without curbs, mailbox and no Constables On Patrol.
    Turn 7 is at the back of the track and it’s off camber and very tricky. Stags have significant training throttle oversteer. Sure enough the tail likes the look of the weeds and off we go. Did I mention muscle cars. Floor it and go for it. I see a massive rooster tail of Georgia red clay and up on the hill overlooking the event 2 dozen spectators cheering.
    It was a great car
    I thought it might be a great car to install Subaru STI underpinnings.
    I want to see a young tunners face when you blow him away with all four tires smoking.

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