You’ve never met our vehicular family, so what better time to share than the addition of a new member. Though, I can hardly call it ‘new’. On Saturday, July 30, we acquired a 1968 Triumph GT6, bringing us into the domain of Old British Sports Car ownership.
It’s been a long ride to it, though, but probably rather inevitable.
My car is a 1996 Mazda MX-5 Miata, lovingly called the Mazdarati. Probably one of the most iconic roadsters not just for its British-styled looks, but also for its stout reliability and unbelievable fun. It’s mostly stock except some Koni adjustable shocks.
Rob’s car is a 1993 Toyota MR2, no nickname, all stock. It’s a great mid-engine car, but one you must respect on the road and drive like it may want to eat you. Making it fun, but a serious-fun instead of the Miata’s laughable-fun.
(More below photograph.)
So, we have a fake British roadster and a fake Ferrari, so it was bound to happen that I’d get a fake E-type, right? Or maybe just expand to the original roadsters: 60s British sports cars.
Our newest addition has some great things going for it, for a 48-year-old vehicle.
It has an inline-6 originally producing a whopping 96 horsepower, though the engine is not original to the car. It has the period original 4-speed transmission.
He drove it home the first day, taking it down Aurora Avenue from its previous home in Queen Anne Hill in Seattle to our home in the north. He said it was a blast, even if it was only 7 miles.
It’s rare. Whereas Triumph made more than 65,000 Triumph Spitfire Mark III between 1967 and 1970, they made under 16,000 units of the GT6 Mark I. That’s a global number, not within the US and doesn’t account for the import/export of units in the nearly 50 years since its inception. Even among all models of GT6, less than 41,000 units were made and, accounting for the many years since there are bound to be some that never made it this far.
(More below gallery.)
Triumph’s first generation of GT6 is also the smallest, coming in at only 146.3 inches in length, 57 inches in width, 47 inches in height, and weighs only 1,904 lbs. The reason they have such extremely low weight, we’ll get to in a bit. Either way, it is tiny; and that’s coming from someone who daily drives a Mazda Miata…
The engine (obviously) runs. It runs rather well. We have to drain old gas and are positive that with new gas some of the engine burps will subside (usually do after a tap or two on the gas). It also sounds amazing, thanks to the fact that it has a straight pipe to the single rear exhaust and resonator, no muffler. While I’m not complaining, I’m sure the neighbors are.
The transmission works. It may be a little difficult to get into reverse and downshifting as you stop is non-existent, the transmission (and all its tractor-tall gears) work marvelously. Which is great. The one quirk about old British sports cars – the drivetrain – is all working great. Sure, it needs some maintenance, but it runs. I’m tickled about that.
Its frame is square as a box, but certain areas of the body are a different matter. (We’ll get to that in a bit.)
The interior is livable, but will eventually be redone. It comes with installed 3-point seatbelts for added safety but lacks any other kind of common or modern safety devices. Though, it was also made in an era that didn’t require any modern safety devices; the seat belts were installed by one of the previous owners.
Other than some maintenance there’s only one really bad thing about the car.
It was street parked and someone hit the rear end. It wasn’t totaled and it wasn’t fixed, but may have been outside through part of that. What body panels can’t be pulled and mended will be cut and welded with either new GT6 body panels or the cannibalized backend of a Spitfire.
The only other major bodywork needed is the driver-side floor pan needs to be cut out and a new one welded in. It’s a might rusted under there, however, the passenger pan was already repaired, so that’s one less thing to worry about. The rust, though, isn’t terrible and can most likely be patched where needed.
We will redo the interior with new materials and designs, along with redoing the exterior paint. Since our other two cars need a respray and have metal flake, the GT6 will likely have it as well. We are planning a red paint with small-diameter metal flake to add vibrancy. To some, this is monstrous because the colors are not original paint colors. To the naysayers, I say: I’d rather be visible in my tin-can while on the road with American automotive behemoths who drive obliviously.
And this is a ‘tin can’ in the automotive sense of the word (no it’s not actually made of tin). It will crumple if we get hit by it. The rear end looks brutal but was just a low-speed parking bump. Imagine, now a full-speed incident with such a small car (anyone inside is probably ruined, and that’s if they live). Not only have the average driving speeds increased since the time these were built, but the average size of the vehicle has doubled, if not tripled. So, yeah, bright colored exterior for extra visibility.
|THE GOOD||THE BAD|
|· Rare||· Needs body work|
|· Running Engine & Transmission||· Repaint required|
|· Interior is usable||· Interior refresh|
|· Road worthy without repairs||· Praying we don’t get hit|
We’ve been looking (but not actively looking) for a good project car for a while. Ours, while needing some basic maintenance, aren’t what I’d call ‘projects’. This is our first project and will yield many new skills learned (welding, pulling metal, interior sewing, filling, primer and paint, and more).
And will probably test our relationship just like any other project car, but… I am the one who fell in love with the GT6 back at that SOVREN event, so I’m unlikely to get too annoying (just eagerly nagging to drive it).
Already, we’ve both fallen head over heels for this inline-6-powered “Poor man’s Jag”; an adorably pint-sized British sports car.
However, it will be a while until we really start working on the car. It will get a few minor things, but won’t have any major work until after an upcoming (and unknown exactly when) move has concluded. Until then, you may see it tootling around Seattle with two smile-plaster car-nuts in the only two seats it has.
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