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V8-Powered Targa: 1972 Triumph Stag

Partially refurbished, this well-preserved 1972 Triumph Stag in Lyons, Illinois seeks a buyer to source parts and get this British drophead 2+2 back in the wind. The listing here on eBay describes overhauled systems including a claimed $5000 engine rebuild. The latter seems odd considering this project car puzzle is missing one big piece, or two actually:  the cylinder heads for the 3.0L V8. More on that later. If you haven’t seen a Stag, consider it utilizes a wheelbase one foot longer than its TR6 stablemate. This one shows a mere 39,108 miles, and the brightwork and interior support that number. Purchase options include Make Offer and a Buy It Now price of $8750. Hagerty puts a #3 Good Condition specimen at $15,700.

A new carpet kit comes with the sale, and we might surmise the excellent-looking claimed original seats were loosely set on the floorboards for this photo session. Zoom in and you see rust across the A-pillar and inner rockers, though the floor looks solid. Expect at least some pin holes in the floorboards, and don’t forget this classic’s Illinois address. Two pedals and the shift lever suggest a three-speed automatic gearbox. Black interiors lined nearly all imported convertibles of this era, making this saddle upholstery an attractive find.

Aside from some dust, there’s little to complain about here. The wire wheels and chrome trim look classy on the big (2800 lb) convertible. Pro-tip:  when photographing a subject that’s wider than it is tall, such as most automobiles, turn your phone 90 degrees and, almost as if by magic, more of the vehicle fits in the captured image. If you still do not see the entire car, carefully step further away and try again. You may wish to practice this technique so it becomes second nature when you sell something worth thousands of dollars.

Those shiny piston tops support the recent rebuild story. Forgive yourself if you don’t recognize this V8 as it’s Triumph’s own design. Interesting features include the ability to remove the heads and overhead cams (one per bank) without losing ignition timing, and the arrangement of skew-cut gears driving the distributor and oil and water pumps at their required speeds from a jackshaft driven by the timing chain. Thanks to wikipedia for some details. The 3.0 made 145 HP during a year when the base Corvette’s 5.7L V8 made 200 according to thelostcorvettes.

Like the Corvette, an optional hard top and roll-up windows made for four-season driving, and the grisly trailing edge of this top suggests it sat outside for some time before its rescue. British cars of the ’70s didn’t fare well in rusty climates, rendering this Stag even more interesting. Several undercarriage pictures show black undercoating and nothing horrible at all. The ideal buyer has the correct cylinder heads in a dusty corner of their garage, or a roasted Triumph V8 with good heads. Rebuild of the heads runs about $1200 for two and cores without valvetrain are about $300 the pair. Call the “missing head” quest $2000 and the buyer would have to consider if $4000 makes this a #3 car or not. Each buyer will need to do their own mathematics of course. Don’t let concerns about resale value stop you from buying something you love and can afford! When’s the last time you saw a V8 Triumph 2+2 in your neighborhood?


  1. Avatar photo Aussie Dave Member

    Always liked the stag, over here we got the 3500 V8

    Like 1
  2. Avatar photo Michelle Rand Staff

    Dang, an automatic. Still, love the colors, great that it comes with its hardtop too.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Aussie Dave Member

      I’m hearing you, if it ain’t got 3 pedals, move on.

      Like 6
    • Avatar photo SubGothius

      Speaking of tops, the Stag was never a “targa” as the headline here implies; it was a full ragtop with built-in fixed rollbar/bracing under the top.

      Like 0
  3. Avatar photo luckless pedestrian

    Owned one for 8 years… Interesting car… because of their rarity state side it attracted lots of attention. There are many tales of engine issues… some deserved, some not. I never had any significant problems with mine… just remember with that high-in-the-block water pump, never let the coolant level get low. Nothing sounds better than a Stag 8… Driving experience is damped by a waaay over boosted power steering…

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo jwaltb

      I’d suggest that a V12 Ferrari or an AH 3000 in a tunnel probably sound better, but what do I know?

      Like 0
  4. Avatar photo justpaul

    Tell me more about the Ghia hiding behind it.

    Like 0
  5. Avatar photo z1rider

    I’ll be surprised if this car doesn’t ultimately get an engine swap. It sounds like the heads were the most problematic part of the design and if so are likely very scarce.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo SubGothius

      Could even be the heads were warped/cracked beyond repair by a severe overheating incident, and that’s why they “got lost” awaiting hens’ teeth replacement heads that never got sourced.

      Agreed that a swap would prolly be the most sensible course here; IMO take the Rover V8 from a late-model Range Rover or Land Rover Discovery donor to set right what history got wrong.

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo luckless pedestrian

        Way back in the mid/late 2000s… when I was running my Stag… the Stag owners club in the UK embarked on a mission to have new heads manufactured. I believe they did have some success initially, but could not keep it going do to technical and/or vendor issues that I don’t remember the specifics of… …they weren’t cheap.

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo Aussie Dave Member

        I have an engineer mate, that specialises in heads. He does all the exotic cars in Adelaide (Australia).
        I took him a head from a Celica, that I thought was that bad, you couldn’t use it as a boat anchor.
        He repaired it better than new, added sacrificel alloy inside the head as well.
        He said he’s never had a head(s) he can’t repair.
        And it cost me less than a new head from Toyota.

        Like 2
  6. Avatar photo jwaltb

    “Engine was rebuilt at a cost of $5000, but the heads got lost.” Happy April 1st!

    Like 4
  7. Avatar photo BillCinMA

    Thank you for the subdued sarcasm class in photographing long verses tall. I often think what you have put to words.

    Like 0
  8. Avatar photo Sal Monella

    Put it back in the barn…PLEASE !!

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Excellent one, Todd! The third paragraph is gold, as BillCinMA mentions. If the seller was showing a pogo stick or a rocket, by all means, use the vertical format. Otherwise, your advice is perfect.

    Like 1

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