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Unrestored Californian: 1970 Triumph GT6+

Want to own a race-bred LeMans winner? That’s how Triumph steered customers to the GT6. In 1963, Giovanni Michelotti duly designed a fastback based on the Spitfire but its weight was a hindrance when paired with that car’s little four-cylinder. The project was shelved. Except: Triumph’s racing team recognized that the fastback body would be quicker on the track than the open cockpit of the Spitfire. Fiberglass “coupe tops” were installed on a handful of Spitfire cars. Engines were tweaked. Unnecessary weight was shed. In 1965, four of these beautiful works cars entered the 24 Heures du Mans 1.15 liter class. Scrapping against Alpine A110s and an Austin-Healey Sprite, two Spitfires finished the race, claiming first and second in their class. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Triumph had developed six-cylinder engines for the Vanguard Six and Vitesse a few years earlier. With race fans gobbling up Spitfires as fast as production would allow, inspiration struck – and the larger Vanguard six was squeezed into the GT6 body. Customers readily connected the new coupe to the four-cylinder race car at LeMans, a happy error that Triumph encouraged. Here on craigslist is a very original 1970 Triumph GT6+ with an asking price of $18,500. The car is now located in Novi, Michigan but was a California resident nearly all its life. T.J. deserves our thanks for this tip!

Triumph’s 1997 cc in-line six-cylinder engine, bedecked with dual Zenith-Stromberg carburetors, makes about 95 hp. The gearbox is a four-speed manual. Plenty of performance options are available, so you don’t have to settle for the factory setup. Still, in original trim, the GT6 darts from zero to sixty in about twelve seconds. Top speed is over 100 mph. This example has seen considerable work recently, including rebuilt carbs and transmission, new brake and clutch master cylinders (note how spiffy the paint is in this vicinity, which is usually grimy with brake fluid, stripped paint, and even rust), a new slave cylinder, and a new clutch. The car is said to run and drive well. The engine bay is black where it should be body color, but that is about the only flaw visible.

The interior is not perfect, with tape applied to what are likely upholstery tears. The windlace is threadbare, too. But the snazzy wood dash has gauges arrayed in front of the driver – distancing the GT from its Spitfire cousin where the gauges are set above the gearshift. Carpeted floors were another differentiator. This car’s electricals are said to work – a big plus. I so appreciate an owner who presents a clean car, vacuumed and dusted out. Shabby is fine, dirty is inexcusable.

A sharp eye would see the slight damage to the front valence in the first photo, and then there’s this dent in the rear fender. So long as we’re talking about the rear, note that early GT6s had the dreaded swing-axle suspension, dishing out oversteer at inopportune times. By 1970, a “Rotoflex” rear end calmed the tendency to swap ends – an improvement. On the other hand, the front bumper was hiked vertically as part of Triumph’s response to US safety regulations – detracting from its looks. Today, the very earliest cars command premium prices, selling in the mid $30k area. Later cars of exceptional quality can reach similar prices. This seller’s price is reasonable; it wouldn’t surprise me to see this one sell quickly.


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Always loved the GT6s. A good looking car with good power. The only thing I never did like was, like a lot of the British cars of the era, having the gas caps in the rear insuring that they would be the first thing hit in a rear end crash.

    Like 7
    • Terrry

      Seriously, a lot of cars had gas caps or fillers in the rear..it really didn’t affect safety because the filler neck travels a long way to the gas tank. As for the car itself, I’ve always liked GT6’s and TR250’s.

      Like 6
      • bobhess bobhess Member

        Guess l should have used my ’32 Ford as an example. The tank was exposed right behind the rear bumper.

        Like 2
    • FrankD Member

      Same here bobhess. It just tight for a 6’2″ person. One or Trumph’s better ideas. I think it had some success on the SCCA race track events.

      Like 0
    • luckless pedestrian

      Worse than that… the tank resides within the passenger cabin… simply covered with plywood and carpet. I know… I own one. I try not to think about it much.

      Like 0
    • Kelly Breen

      As a Midget driver I consider any roadster a 4 wheeled motor cycle. In any crash you are guaranteed to come out t second best.

      Like 0
  2. Azzura Member

    It was 1982 in Abilene Texas. I had just sold my 1965 Comet Caliente and purchased my first sports car. A 1975 Fiat X1/9. A guy who worked with me at the waterbed store had also just purchased his first sports car, a GT6. What fun we had chasing each other around the country roads there. Both cars were fairly comparable in speed and handling. We often traded with each other so I got to experience the GT6. It was a tight fit inside, but one seated it held me in place like a glove. My only complaint with the GT6 was the extreme cockpit heat generated from the tranny tunnel. I did prefer my X1/9 for the open top and high reving motor. Eventually ended up owning three of them.
    This looks like a good buy for the English enthusiast, but I’ll keep my X1/9.

    Like 8
    • luckless pedestrian

      Currently a GT6 owner (among other things)… have owned three X1/9s in the past. I can’t think of two more different cars in terms of their character and feel. The GT6 being very traditional British (and all that comes with that)… and the X being “modern” Italian. Both hugely fun, but a very, very different experience.

      Like 2
  3. DKW

    This car is BEGGING for an interior refresh and a bolt on conversion for either wire wheels or Daytona wheels (not mini-lites). If I had room in the garage, I’d get this…but my only space (wife has the other side) is occupied by my ’62 Healey 3000 that I’ve had since High School.

    Like 5
  4. Van Cardwell

    I didn’t like those hubcaps so I used TR6 center caps instead.
    I always wanted to install 14 inch wire wheels from a Stag. 185/60r14 H would be a major upgrade.

    Like 1
  5. Big C

    My GT6 experience. Back in the early 80’s these were fairly cheap sports cars. A local dealer had one on the lot for $800. During my test drive, I was going from 1st to 2nd gear, and punched the gas. I went back in the seat, and the seat back broke. Laying me down, staring at the headliner, with my foot on the floor. One hand on the shifter, and one on the bottom of the steering wheel. I got it stopped, tried to fix the seat, to no avail, and drove her back. The dealer asked me how it was. I showed him the seat, and told him, “It’s not for me, but it’s got plenty of torque!”

    Like 4
  6. Terrry

    Don’t you love that clam shell bonnet?? I always liked the six-cylinder Triumph sports cars like the GT6 and TR250. The only thing about the GT6 I don’t care for (and this is just me) is the wood trim in the dash. I’d rather have it all black ala. MG.

    Like 1
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      Triumph was trying to be swanky with that dash….. LOVE the bonnet, esp with the bulge. The car looks both masculine and beautiful at the same time.

      Like 4
  7. Robgw

    I had a 69 GT6 that I modified with a turbo from a Corvair and a single sidedraft Weber Carb. It ran very well until I dialed in too much boost, it leaned out and burned a hole in one of the pistons. I customized the exterior by removing the bumpers and filling the bumper holes. In the end it succumbed to rust.

    Like 1

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