Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Driving with with style - Triumph (Stag MKII)
The Triumph Stag is a British car that was sold between 1970 and 1978 by the Triumph Motor Company styled by the Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti.
Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for trouble, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Of this number, 6,780 were export models, of which only 2,871 went to the United States. Several variants were produced, noted only in changes of the production numbering sequences, and these have become unofficially designated as "Early" Mk I 1970, the Mk I (1971–1972/3), Mk II (1973) and "Late" Mk II (1974–1977). The addition of twin coachlines is an indication of a Mk II variant.
Whilst official Triumph parts manuals may differentiate variants by commission plate ranges, it is common (from owner's observations) that minor parts for the old variant may turn up in early productions of the new variant. For example Mk2 cars have been known to have Mk1 wiring looms or door latches. Triumph either took the opportunity of clearing out the parts bin or quality control was not their best attribute.
Most cars were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient Triumph TR2 gearbox which had been modified and improved over the years for use in the TR4/A/IRS/TR5/250/6. The first gear ratio was raised and needle roller bearings were used in place of the bronze bushings on the layshaft. Early models could be ordered with an A-type Laycock overdrive unit and later ones frequently came with a J-type Laycock unit. The overdrive option is highly desirable as the engine RPM is excessive without it.
Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few factory installed options. Some early cars came with just the soft-top and some with just the hard-top but most ended up with both. Electric windows, power steering and power assisted brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, chrome wire wheels, luggage rack, Koni shock absorbers, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps, and a range of aftermarket products, most of which were dealer installed as optional accessories could also be fitted. Rather unusually for a 4-seat touring car, the accessory list included a sump protector plate. This was probably included as a slightly 'gimmicky' tribute to Triumph's rallying successes.
The Triumph Stag has sizeable club and owner support and a number of specialist suppliers. About 9,000 Stags are believed to survive in the United Kingdom. The car's popularity is due to its performance, comparative rarity and its Michelotti styling. The problems associated with the car over the years have been solved by those enthusiast clubs supporting the Stag, elevating this classic to its intended place in popularity envisioned by its designers.