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Grand Touring British Style: 1973 Triumph GT6

Back in the day when British sports cars roamed the roads of America, there were a variety of models to choose from.  One of the most beautiful was Triumph’s diminutive Spitfire.  These dashing little roadsters were sort of sized in between the MG Midget and the MGB, and they competed with both on the sales floor and on the race track.  When a hardtop model was needed, it was found that the extra weight demanded a more powerful six cylinder engine.  Decades later, this 1973 Triumph GT6, for sale on eBay in Elbert, Colorado with a starting bid of $2,500, is a good reminder of just how right the British could get sports cars.  Remarkably almost free of rust, is this Triumph a grand touring project worth taking on?

The Spitfire from which the GT6 was derived mated the chassis of a Triumph Herald sedan with a well styled body by Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti.  The design was far more stylish than the lines of the MG Midget and new MGB that the car mainly competed against in the marketplace.  When it came time for a hardtop design, Michelotti was again consulted.  The problem was the added weight hampered what was already leisurely performance.  The Triumph parts bin yielded an inline six cylinder from the Triumph Vitesse to make up the needed horsepower.  When all was said and done, Triumph had a pretty nice grand touring version of the Spitfire to offer their customers.  Unfortunately, these cars never met sales expectations.  They did make fine race cars in SCCA competition, and have a devoted following that continues to this day.

The GT6 we see here is claimed to be rust (through) free except for the usual damage in the battery tray area.  This is pretty remarkable for two reasons.  The first is that Triumphs of this era battle rust like Saddam battled the Iranians.  Second, this car has sat outside for many years in Colorado of all places.  The seller claims that much of the damage seen in the interior and the paint was due to sun fading.  Elbert must be a pretty dry and sunny part of Colorado.  Still, the pictures reveal a very good GT6 body shell.

The picture above is both an agony and ecstasy of Triumph ownership.  The wooden dash and the padded dash pad have obviously seen better days.  Still, a casual glance shows just how simple and well laid out the cockpit on these cars were.  There was a purity that British sports cars exhibited that attracted thousands of fans in their heyday.  In an era of muscle cars and comfortable, reliable American cars, there were plenty of enthusiasts who were willing to put up with occasionally questionable reliability to enjoy the sports car experience.  Too bad the British sports car market faded away by 1980.  Only the rise of the Miata brought back such cars.  Of course, Japanese reliability was a valuable improvement.

It would be nice of we were provided more pictures of the floorboards of this Triumph.  Pictures of the underside of the car with he benefit of a lift would be a huge help.  Stil, there seems to be no real clue pointing to a swampy interior in the shots we are provided.  I am unsure if the seats are correct for this car, but Triumph did move from vinyl to cloth coverings in the final year of the GT6.  Perhaps one of our resident Triumph experts can shine some light on this.

Under the hood is the inline six cylinder that made this car so appealing.  Putting out just over 100 horsepower, these cars could reach speeds of up to 112 miles per hour.  According to the seller, the engine runs great.  It is also claimed that all the parts needed are with the car.  The electronics work, but the braking system issues have not been addressed.

Sadly, there have been no bids at the $2,500 starting price.  This car could end up being an easy restoration for the next owner.  It can also nickel and dime you to death with the many replacement pieces you would need to bring it back to concours condition.  Still, the result would be a great car for tearing up the back roads where you live.  These cars have a following for a reason.


  1. Ben T Spanner

    I had a 1970 GT 6+ as a daily driver in 1976 or so. Super reliable. I was in Central Ohio, and had no rust issues, but it was washed frequently even in the winter. These have more room than you would think. Some had the hardtop body removed and replaced with a Spitfire convertible. These are body on frame.
    Great accessibility to the engine and front suspension. Transmission come out the top for clutch replacement. A good car for a diyer.

    Like 0
  2. RayT Member

    I’ve always liked the looks of these, but have always wondered — not having driven one or, for that matter, even a Spit — if my 6’2″ self would fit in one.

    It looks a little dodgy around the edges (rust bugs me more than almost anything else), but for the price, how badly can you go wrong?

    I’d also be curious about ways to extract a little more oomph from that little six. This could make a great bargain-basement Toyota 200GT! And the parts situation would likely be better, too….

    Like 0
    • RayT Member

      That’s “Toyota 2000GT,” folks.

      Some people just can’t type, and I’m one of them.

      Like 2
      • Dan Bowles

        Auction ended and price was only $2600! A steal.

        Like 1
    • JagManBill

      RayT – I’m 6’3 and with a helmet on I can still drive/race comfortably a friends 71 GT6…oh…he’s 6’5″. There are “cheats” you can do such as move the track back about an inch, take out the tunnel-side bolster, and worst case, you can cut the pan and drop it almost 2″ with a splice under the seat area.
      Oh…as for power…there are LOTS of ways to get more “oomph” out of it. I think he’s getting a fairly reliable 140 hp out of his running a pair of SU’s, race cam and fly-cut on the head as the biggest changes.

      Like 1
  3. Gary Lazer

    I had a 71 GT6 and I almost paid someone to buy it from me. At the time, it used a mineral based fluid clutch, which would leak and stop working about every 8 months. I once had to buy a bolt for the car to be repaired and it was taking 3 months from British Leyland and cost $70 dollars for the one special thread piece. Still, it was the funnest car to drive I ever owned. Most were British racing green and beautiful looking. Today, I wish I had kept it. One other thing was overheating. The heat came directly through the firewall and you had to keep the windows open a bit. lol

    Like 0
  4. Del

    no rust ? oh thats just Patina on top.

    112 mph. maybe but then you have to pull that Leyland out and re-grind the crank.

    nice parts car

    Like 1
  5. Wayne

    I have always liked the body style on these. I have enjoyed driving one of these, but have never had the pleasure of owning one. The siting says sold, someone got a great deal!

    Like 0
  6. Stevieg

    Back in the 1980’s, my Mom’s boyfriend had one of these. He stored it at our house.
    As a teenage boy, it sure was tempting lol…and fun!
    They busted me, but it was worth it! Looking back on it, they were way nicer to me then than I would be now to some snooty brat joy-riding one of my toys lol.
    Mom’s boyfriend, Dale, really tolerated a lot. I hope he is resting in peace, & I hope he has forgiven me.

    Like 2
  7. John

    The eye of the beholder for sure…

    Like 0

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