British Grand Tourer: 1971 Triumph Stag

When it rolled off the production line, the Triumph Stag promised so much. That it was plagued with reliability issues, all of which can now be addressed, meant that it was a sales disaster. This was a shame because there is little doubt that the Stag is an extremely attractive car, and if style counts for anything, then it had every right to be a success. This 1971 Stag has been parked for at least 15-years and is looking for someone to revive it. Located in Mobile, Alabama, it is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN of $2,500, but the option is available to make an offer.

I’ll stick my neck out here, and say that I believe that the Michelotti-designed Stag is the best looking car to ever wear the Triumph badge. The styling is stunning, and it is easy to see why the motoring press were initially so excited by it. Those days have long passed for this Stag, but the photos really don’t provide any clear indication as to whether the car is suffering from any major rust issues. There is nothing obviously visible, but when you see things under the hood, it does raise some questions. It also isn’t clear whether the components for the T-Top and soft-top are presents, so that’s a bit of a lucky dip.

Now that we’ve looked under the hood, you can see what I mean about corrosion. It certainly isn’t pretty, and it does make you wonder what the underside of the car is like. The owner uses that great old expression, “ran when parked.” Of course, that was 15-years-ago, so who knows what sort of condition the 2,997cc V8 engine is in now. That engine was one of the Stag’s greatest weaknesses, suffering from severe cooling issues that were caused by a number of separate design and maintenance shortcomings. It is now possible to address these problems with the engine, and a Stag can be made reliable. However, many owners have chosen to toss the engine in the nearest rubbish skip, and slot in something different. The Buick-based Rover V8 is one option, and there are examples that have been fitted with the Essex 3.0-liter engine as well. Regardless of which way the next owner chooses to go, I foresee much work in their future.

As with so many aspects of the Stag, it is hard to make an accurate assessment of the car’s interior from the supplied photos. It is certainly dirty, and you can’t help but wonder just how much nicer it would now look if the top had been in place. It is hard to tell whether there is something laying on the driver’s seat, or whether the black leather upholstery has been badly shredded. The first step would be to give the interior a good clean and then to devise a strategy, and a shopping list, from there. While many perceived the Stag to be a sports car, Triumph themselves saw it more as a grand tourer. It is not a light car, and the interior is fitted with some nice luxury appointments. As well as leather upholstery, the owner will get air conditioning, power windows, power locks, cruise control, and a radio/cassette player.

As I said, the Triumph Stag promised so much, but it was a car that was plagued by design flaws and resultant poor reliability. If a solid example can be found today, it is possible to address the majority of these flaws and to make a Stag into a fairly reliable car. Is this car worth the effort? Well, the first thing that I would say is that the answer to that question hinges on how solid the car proves to be upon closer inspection. If it is okay, then that’s a point in its favor. The second thing that I will say is that values on the Stag have stayed quite static over the past 3-years or so, and it is possible to buy a nice example for around $18,000 that would require very little work. It is also worth considering that between 1970 and 1977, a mere 2,871 cars found their way to the USA. That makes them relatively rare today. To me, it’s a tough call. What do you think?


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  1. Alex

    I live just across the bay from where this is. I would advise caution. Most things rust to bits here when left exposed to the elements. I know it has a roof over it but that does nothing to stop the humidity or the salt in the air due to the proximity of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mobile Bay. I don’t buy classic stuff around here, been burned too many times by iron oxide.

    Like 11
  2. sir mike

    Sorry to say but not worth the effort required…sad

    Like 8
  3. XJSLord

    Wondering about the story with that Merc r107 hardtop in the picture…

  4. Tracy

    Why do people store an old car with no top or top down? I’ve always said that a early Lexus LS V8 would be perfect in one of these. It would be light,smooth and reliable.

    Like 4
    • ken tilly Member

      Tracy. I agree with you re the Lexus V8, however, just not in this Stag.

      Like 2
    • Chris In Australia

      Would it fit?I’m no Lexus expert, but aren’t their V8s quad cam? Makes for a bulky engine. I’d go for the Buick/ Rover V8. Aussie versions versions went to 4.4 litres.The engine it should have had from day one.

      Like 1
      • Ken Tilly UK Member

        A friend of mine had one fitted with the Ford Essex V6 engine and it went like stink, so I would think that it would be even better with the Rover V8 fitted.

        Like 1
  5. Bob Member

    When properly sorted and running, the engine has one of the sweetest sounds of any stock V8. The gearbox choices included 3 speed auto, 4 speed and 4 speed with overdrive. Came with convertible top and removable hardtop. No leather was available. There is a loyal following in the USA, Australia and the UK with spare parts being very accessible.

    Like 4
    • TouringFordor

      X 2 on the sweet sound. I had a ’73, and had the engine well sorted. When the foam in the upholstery turned to dust, I decided to sell it.

      Like 1
  6. Ben T. Spanner

    Same old story, buy the best example of the car that you want the most. This is not it.
    Restoration of this “car” is way beyond the technical and financial abilities of most. Now is almost the end of season, and a great time to buy a good example.

    Like 1
  7. Scott Marquis

    A bucket of small bricks, and one very large one.

    Like 1
  8. Neil

    It’s probably the Stag hardtop in the corner

    Like 1
    • Little_Cars

      Remember… There is a spare Stag hardtop in the pics of the rough pair of Mustangs listed over the weekend on BF. So you’ll be ahead of the game….NOT!

      Like 1
  9. Martin Horrocks

    Rover V8 used to be the default swap in UK, but originality seems to be the new black. This particular car is parts only, or financial suicide.

    However, the Stag has been a waste of space since it first appeared, the answer to a question which no-one was asking, badly executed. The question it does answer perfectly is “Where did UK car design go wrong in the 70s?”

    Some people like them, but they are not usually car people..

    Like 4
  10. Chris from Cincinnati

    I worked on my neighbor’s Triump Stag growing up in the 1970’s. I was always impressed by how well built and designed the Stag was – especially when compared to anything else from Triumph. The transmission, body, interior and mechanicals all seemed so much nicer and well built than anything else I had ever worked on from the UK.

    Beautiful car.
    I think this one requires a hand inspection…

    Like 2
  11. Andrew Franks

    They are wonderful cars once sorted out, but not this one. Too far gone.

    Like 2
  12. John Oliveri

    Needs to be marketed in a boat yard w a chain around it, if u follow me, a fairly decent anchor

    Like 1
  13. Brian M Member

    Triumph made a couple of prototype vehicles, the Bullet Car in the early 50’s (two were made and both were purchased by one of their engineers) and the Fury in the mid to late 60’s, also owned by the same engineer. At a joint international gettogether in 1977 called STIR III (Standard Triumph International Rally III) I had the good fortune to see both a Bullet and the Fury and meet their owner. The Fury was a Michelotti design that never went into production as, I believe, it was too close to the very successful TR6 in the market segment, but the design probably greatly influenced the Stag as the front view is nearly identical. The rear resembled the Triumph 2000 saloon.

    Like 2

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