The sporty British two-seater has long been a cherished dream, usually – though not exclusively – of young men. Back in the 1960s and ‘70s the ultimate British sportscar dream used to be a svelte E-Type Jaguar, perhaps a hairy-chested Big Healey, or maybe the Italian-styled sophistication of the Triumph Stag. Of course, the mechanically adept might have gone for Colin Chapman’s delicate little Lotus Elan. But those dreams more often took shape in the form of smaller, less expensive sports cars – cheaper to buy and to run – like the Austin Healey Sprite, MG Midget or Triumph Spitfire. Occasionally a budget would stretch to an MGB, Triumph TR or maybe this week’s Prime Find – a Triumph GT6.
Mechanically related to several Triumph models and with a 2-litre straight-six engine transplanted from the Triumph 2000 saloon, the Michelotti-styled GT6 was known as a “mini E-Type” back in the day. When you look at it, it’s not hard to see why – especially in silhouette. When first introduced in 1966, it certainly looked very cool and was also reasonably fast; its 95bhp propelling it to a top speed of 106mph or 171km/h. Yet it was also relatively affordable at £985, around £100 more than a standard MGB GT, but less than half the price of an E-Type.
It didn’t, however, handle particularly well thanks to its swing axle rear suspension. Luckily Triumph addressed this issue with the Mk.II, launched in 1969. The Mk.II also saw some minor styling changes, the most significant being the raised front bumper to comply with American safety regulations; a change made reasonably successfully to my eyes – especially compared with the later MGB’s big black moustache. Power was upped to 104bhp, the main impact being on acceleration rather than top speed, with two seconds knocked off the 0-60mph time.
1970 saw the GT6’s last major facelift, incorporating styling changes made to the Spitfire in Mk IV form, and further suspension upgrades. These combined to increase top speed to 112mph or 180km/h. But these changes didn’t help the GT6 in terms of sales, and it fell some way behind the MGB, to the point where British Leyland decided to stop producing the small six-cylinder coupé in 1973, after a production run of just under 41,000.
All of which brings us to our Prime Find for this week, one of the just under one thousand GT6’s left in the UK, a fairly late Mk.III from 1972, and in my opinion the best-looking of the three series. Finished in a fetching shade of Emerald Green with black cloth seats, this example looks from the photos to be in excellent condition, as it should after a full-body respray in 2017. At the same time, the car was given a full mechanical and electrical overhaul, so whoever buys it next shouldn’t have much to do to it for some time – other of course than drive it! It has also been a bit of a TV star, having featured in two episodes of the BBC’s time-travel police series “Life on Mars”, evidence of which is shown in the car’s comprehensive history file, which also includes the original handbook and service book. This particular GT6 is also equipped with the desirable overdrive option, making for more relaxed cruising. For a change, there’s a plethora of excellent pictures of the car, where we’ve borrowed a few from the Bulldog Motor Collection which the GT6 is currently a part of:
All this makes the asking price for the car of £14,950 – currently equating to Euro 17,000 – seem very reasonable to me. Its relatively fresh paint finish suits the car very well, and the combination of sleek Italian fastback styling with a traditional British interior – lots of wood and dials – sprightly performance from a smooth in-line six and a practical opening rear tailgate makes this product from Coventry very appealing indeed. It’s being sold as part of a collection of British cars, and you can see the full advert here: 1972 Triumph GT6 Mk.III
With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org