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British Muscle: 1971 Triumph Stag

Despite being well-known among British car enthusiasts, the Triumph Stag doesn’t pop up for sale all that often. And, when it does, there’s no guarantee it will be in decent shape. This Stag checks all the right boxes, as it wears excellent colors and appears to be in turnkey condition. The seller notes that it retains its original V8 engine and paint, and it’s listed here on craigslist in San Francisco for $18,500.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader ToddK for the find. The Stag had big ambitions when it arrived on the scene, with plans to challenge the Mercedes-Benz SL class for top-down, grand tourer dominance. This, of course, did not happen, and the Stag seemingly ended up in a place where its merits were understood but not to the point that it triggered massive sales. The Stag proved immensely popular in the UK but its fate in the U.S. was less auspicious. The seller notes that those are real knock-off wheels, said to be in excellent condition.

Perceptions of reliability issues plagued the launch of the Stag in the U.S., with documented overheating cases dimming its prospects. The somewhat choppy history of the V8 engine in the Stag began with plans originally calling for the Buick-derived all-aluminum Rover V8 to be under the hood. However, fitment issues rendered this impossible, and the Triumph unit was given the green light. Further complicating matters was California’s low octane fuel requirements, which necessitated the use of low compression pistons that further exacerbated overheating issues.

The seller doesn’t tell us much about the Stag’s history but it doesn’t have the vibe of being completely restored. It looks like more of a preservation specimen with perhaps a few areas cleaned up (such as the upholstery.) The wood trim is in good shape and the same goes for the carpets and dash. The seller notes it is equipped with power windows that work as designed, and that it comes with a newer convertible top. For $18,500, this is all the money, but the Stag does appear to be one of the better ones we’ve seen.

Comments

  1. 8banger 8banger Member

    The funny B-pillar “roll bar” pretty much sucks the joy out of the top-down driving experience…

    Like 3
  2. Cadmanls Member

    To add icing to the cake it’s an automatic. Someone thought they would just cruise in their Stag. Styling isn’t terrible but reliable, well that’s subjective. Well on the positive side probably wasn’t driven hard. Happy motoring!

    Like 3
  3. Michelle Rand Staff

    Doesn’t tick ALL the boxes – I prefer the manual. There’s a good $5k difference in prices between the automatic and the manual, at least. Worth noting: prices for these underloved Brits have risen steadily. Used to be, you could hardly give one away.

    Like 7
  4. HoA Howard A Member

    As a British car enthusiast, the Stag was always pretty much out there. I thought it was a Spitfire on steroids. Like all these flash in the pans, it just cost too much. Apparently, it wasn’t what Americans wanted in a sports car anyway, yet, and it cost a whopping $5700 new. That was $500 bucks more than a Corvette, and a V-12 Jag wasn’t much more at $6900. Even a TR6, the Stags own competition, was $3275. I heard the motor was troublesome, but a V8 roadster sure sounded like the ticket, in the boardroom, but like the TR7, these never had much of a chance. Shame, I bet it’s an absolute blast to drive.

    Like 7
    • DAVID BROWER

      THE STAG WAS THEIR FLAGSHIP .
      THESE CARS CAME WITH A LOT OF GOODIES
      LIKE TILT & TELESCOPE STEERING WHEEL , ELECTRIC WINDOWS
      POWER STEERING , FACTORY AIR , A STANDARD HARD TOP .

      THEY HAVE A BACK SEAT TOO THEY ARE NOT YOU AVERAGE
      TRIUMPH , IT’s A GRAND TOURING CAR .

      THE V-8 IS UNIQUE AND RUNS SMOOTH AND SOUNDS FANTASTIC .
      IT IS ALSO MORE TROUBLE THAN ANYTHING YOU EVER HEARD OF .

      THE IRONY THERE IS THAT TRIUMPH JOINED LEYLAND IN 1968
      WHILE THE STAG WAS STILL UNDER DEVELOPMENT .

      THE ROVER 3500 WAS OFFERED TO THEM AND SOME PROTOTYPES WERE BUILT WITH THAT ENGINE BECAUSE THE STAG MOTOR WAS STILL ON THE DRAWING BOARD .

      IF THEY HAD SWALLOWED THEIR PRIDE AND GONE WITH THE ROVER MILL , THE STAG WOULD HAVE BEEN A HUGE SUCCESS .

      INSTEAD THEY SANK MONEY THEY DIDN’T HAVE INTO A MOTOR
      THAT PROVED TO BE THE UNDOING OF THE CAR’s REPUTATION .

      STILL , 25,000 WERE MADE WITH 20,000 OF THE FAILING TO LEAVE
      THEIR HOME COUNTRY .

      Like 5
  5. That AMC Guy

    Here’s pretty much everything one would want to know about the Stag:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRspvYpq4mU

    https://www.aronline.co.uk/cars/triumph/stag/

    Like 0
  6. Craig Baloga Craig Baloga Member

    Nice to see it still appears to have its original engine.

    I did see a show out of the U.K. (For the Love of Cars, with Ant Anstead) in which they restored a Stag, to stock spec’s and then tested it on a chassis dyno…..with them concluding the Stag met all performance and drivability tests without overheating.

    They summed up the Stag reliability issues as lack of proper customer maintenance.

    I’m not buying or selling this conclusion, but what do the Barn Finds nay-sayers, aficionado’s and fans of Stags think of this?

    👍🤓

    Like 0
    • Paul T. Root

      Even in the 70s Americans idea of maintenance was put gas in it, and maybe change the oil once in a while.
      It you want to sell to them, you have to do better than that.

      I had heard that getting the Rover V8 was a supply issue not a fit issue.

      Back in 85 or 86, I went up to Goletta for a Moss customer open house thing. They had a car show thing, they got me to enter my TR7 and I was parked next to a Stag. The owner was an engineer that told me about the work he did to the engine to reroute the coolant so it went through the heads first. Something like that. He said it solved the overheating issue. I was 22 and didn’t understand it completely, but thought it was cool. Also, I’m claiming 37 years of memory loss.

      Like 2
    • luckless pedestrian

      One of the issues (but not the only one) with the Stag 8 was that the water pump was mounted high in the block… if the coolant level was allowed to get low, the pump didn’t pump… with obvious results… overheating, warped heads, blown head gaskets… TR7 owners (the ‘7’s 4 cylinder was just half of a Stag 8) had the same issue. So ya, this could have been a customer maintenance issue…

      Like 1
  7. Derek

    An elderly relative once offered me his non-functioning (had sat for a few years in a garage) Stag, saying that it had a slipping clutch when it drove in there but all the engine work had been done.

    So I turned down a very cheap, sorted, manual Stag for not-very-much, just because it wasn’t my thing at the time; I was into Minis.

    Now? I’d have it like a shot and make a big GT6 type thing out of it, which I think would look great. The eejitry of youth…

    Like 2
  8. Glenn Hilpert

    Neat looking car. Has been 4-sale for quite awhile, why?

    Like 1
    • Kelly Breen

      Probably because the motor has a bad reputation. Some were fine but some were not. They eventually sorted the power plant out but it was too late. The reputation of the car was in tatters.
      There is a great documentary on you tube about this engine.

      Like 1
  9. 59poncho

    Stevie Wonder could see issues with passenger door. Semi rare car alot don’t even know of. In 2010 I scored an abandoned 66 K20 (another wish I had it back) and there was a red hardtop in its bed. With its curved base the only car I could think of was a Stag. My buddy helping had never heard of a Stag so he whipped out his phone-then I knew for sure. On craigslist it went.
    Paid the truck fees!!!

    Like 1
  10. Clay

    I owned one of these about 14 years ago. I bought it from a Brit expat who had a really nice shop in his backyard. Actually, in his ex-wife’s backyard. And I bought it from her. I think I paid 6K, which was a lot for a Stag then. But because the guy was a Brit and a car guy, he’d gone through the car and fixed all its shortcomings. The ex-wife just wanted it gone. After I rebuilt the carbs (it had sat for 6 months), it was great fun. Not much power, of course, but that engine made the sweetest sound, and it handled very well. I had no problems with it.

    Like 3
  11. luckless pedestrian

    Owned one for 8 or 9 years… a ’71 with a 4 speed… Very interesting car with one of the best exhaust notes out there. It handled well, but I wouldn’t call it a sports car. Steering was hugely over boosted and quite numb, which took away a lot of driving pleasure. Much has been written about the underdeveloped and problematic Triumph 8, but mine was rock solid. The only problem I experienced was vapor lock on hot summer days when using 10% ethanol fuel. The car attracted attention everywhere I took it. The removeable hardtop was steel and VERY heavy. I rigged up a pulley lift in my garage to deal with it. Removing and replacing it was not something done casually. Had it, had fun with it, but don’t miss it.

    Like 2
  12. Richard Martin

    The passenger’s door seems off color. It might be just the photo but probably not. There also is no mention of the (standard?) hard top which makes me wonder if it exists – These things really need something better than canvas overhead.

    Like 1

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