Classics World’s Iain Wakefield test drives and reviews the 1972 Triumph Stag…
The origins of the Triumph Stag can be traced back to the mid-1960’s when the talented Italian stylist Giovanni Michelotti used a 2000 saloon as the basis to create a stylish concept two-door convertible to promote his considerable design talents at a major international motor show. Triumph’s chief designer Harry Webster had ‘loaned’ Michelotti a spare 2000 on the condition the board would have the rights to put the new drophead version of the company’s top selling saloon into production if they liked the look of it.
Michelotti’s prototype obviously ticked all the right boxes back at the Canley design studios and the concept was quickly taken over by Triumph for further development. So keen were Triumph to keep this attractive concept secret, Michelotti never got the chance to show off his creation and after more in-house development, project Stag was eventually signed off for production.
When it was launched in 1972, the Stag was Triumph’s first unitary constructed convertible. Several inches had been chopped out of the 2000’s floorpan to give the new two-door Triumph a more balanced profile and an ingenious padded T-bar connecting both B pillars to the centre of the front screen helped eliminate scuttle shake.
Power for the new Stag came from a brand new compact, all-alloy 2997cc V8 engine. Development of this new powerplant had been a lengthy and costly exercise for Triumph and over the years reams have been written about the poor reliability these engines suffered from almost from the word go. Many Stags had their troublesome engines replaced with an ex-Rover V8, but this bright yellow example from Sherwood Restorations is still powered by its original Triumph built V8.
Since the bad old days of a cash strapped BL, independent marque specialists have worked wonders to cure the Stag’s V8 of its various ills and although the documentation that comes with this examples shows the mileage on this car has already round the clock one, the engine has been rebuilt and appears to be in tip- top condition.
The day of our test drive was hot and humid and a lengthily tour taking in a varied selection of roads around this north Nottinghamshire based dealership, including a long wait at temporary traffic lights, resulted in the needle on the Stag’s temperature gauge remaining slap bang in the centre of the scale. This should be very good news for any prospective purchaser, as any sign of overheating on one of these silky smooth V8s is a sure fire indication of expensive trouble ahead.
A flick through the extensive history folder that comes with this extremely well presented automatic Stag shows how the car was restored to a very high standard prior to being sold to a fastidious owner by Sherwood Restorations about nine years ago. Receipts at the top of the file indicate how the last owner has maintained this Stag regardless of cost and recent work includes a gearbox overhaul along with a replacement hood frame and brand new outer mohair cover.
The factory fitted Stromberg carbs on this Stag have been replaced by a twin choke Holley carburettor and other mechanical upgrades on this car include fitting a spin off oil filter and Luminition electronic ignition. One thing that really stands out about this Stag is the extremely clean underside, which is painted body colour and appears to be in very good condition. A walk around the car didn’t reveal any obvious imperfections in the bright yellow coachwork and opening the driver’s door revealed a clean and inviting interior.
Driving a well-sorted Stag like this good looking example should always be a pleasant experience and a very slight jolt when slipping the gear selector from park to drive indicated the automatic gearbox had taken up the drive. A smart stab of the throttle provided a taste of things to come and once on the move the gearbox swapped ratios without making any fuss. The Stag’s powerful brakes pulled the car up effortlessly when required and our brief drive demonstrated how this Stag could still hold its own in modern traffic conditions without getting hot under the collar.
Although it was roasting hot day when we tested this Stag, we didn’t have the chance to fold the hood back but were assured by the vendor that it’s a relatively quick process to convert this stylish four-seat sports car into an open topped tourer. All the switchgear works and the leather seat coverings and interior trim is in good condition, although there was a slight bit of marking on the carpet covering the passenger’s side of the transmission tunnel.
Stags are still seriously underrated classic sports car, which is a shame as a good one provides a very enjoyable drive. The burble from the V8 engine provides a wonderful sound track to explore country lanes by and the Stag’s long legs make it a very comfortable long distance cruiser. Despite this one being at the very top of the price range, you’ll be hard pushed to buy a better one for the price.
ENGINE: 2297cc V8
POWER: 145bhp at 5500rpm
TOP SPEED: 117mpg
0-60mph: 11.6 sec
GEARBOX: Four-speed auto