Estimate: £23,500 - £26,500
Triumph’s TR series represents a thread of quintessentially British sports cars running from the early 1950s right up to the 1980s. The TR1 was essentially a prototype, refined and developed into the production TR2 which hit the showrooms in 1953. This gently evolved into the more powerful TR3 in ’55, and then a crisp new Michelotti body design ushered in the TR4 for 1961. The format was gradually but relentlessly honed and refined throughout the sixties, with each fresh iteration boasting modernised styling and mechanical improvements, until we arrive at the rakish TR6 of 1968. This thrust the bloodline firmly toward the future, with a front-and-rear restyle by Karmann imbuing the roadster with a contemporary look that has aged remarkably well.
Interestingly, while this is a thoroughly British offering in terms of design, heritage and realisation, the real success of the TR6 was in the export market: of the total production run of 91,850 cars, only 8,370 were sold in the UK. (These things were particularly popular in the US!) Each one boasted the venerable 2.5-litre straight-six, as found elsewhere in the larger saloon models, and what’s particularly useful to note is that the early ‘CP Series’ cars boasted a full-fat 150bhp; from 1972, the ‘CR Series’ cars put out 125bhp, so it’s pleasing to know that the example we have before the lens today is one of the earlier and brawnier originals.
Any TR Series Triumph offers a heady mix of old-time thrills and heritage in spades, but an early TR6 is perhaps the best entry into this intriguing genre of British motoring history – because not only does it look the part, but it’s built to handle too… and that muscular horsepower is amusingly exploitable on demand. Headscarf motoring, for sure, but with a malevolent twist.
This TR6 fulfils all the main requirements one might wish for of any classic car: low miles, rust-free condition, solid, complete, and ready to use. Much of this is attributable to it having lived a life of pampering and pride – with just 64,000 miles on the clock, it’s also benefited from a full and high-quality restoration back in the 1990s, and has covered very little mileage since then.
The current owner has had the car for around three years; it’s always run beautifully, paying true testament to the old mantra of buying the best car you can afford. Under his curation, the TR6 has been treated to a couple of minor upgrades to ensure reliability – electronic ignition, and a modern starter motor – and has, of course, always been correctly serviced. It’s been a summer plaything, spending the winter months in hibernation on axle stands, and the level of loving care that’s been lavished upon the maintenance and upkeep means that it’s supremely reliable. When we liaised for our photoshoot, the TR6 hadn’t been used for a few weeks and yet it fired on the first turn of the key.
With a detailed service history to back up the modest mileage, this is an honest and legitimate example of a cared-for classic. Indeed, having covered just 2,000 miles in the last few years, the owner now feels that it’s time for a new keeper to enjoy this car’s uniquely classic charms.
It’s no secret that the market is well-stocked for TR6s at the moment, but you’d be hard pushed to find one as straight, solid and well-presented as this one. That 1990s restoration is wearing extremely well, no doubt owing to the fact that the car has spent much of its time inside since.
The desirable Jasmine Yellow paint (the car’s original shade, as evidenced by the VIN plate) is beautifully presented, and complements the slender form of the body in fine style. The only minor blemishes are a little surface corrosion along the jacking points at the base of the sills (which is purely surface, not structural), and a very minor rust bubbling on the rear quarters under the paint, where the sealant seams join the body panels. Aside from these extremely minor and barely noticeable imperfections, the body of the Triumph is near faultless. And this is equally true of the underside of the car – everything is as straight as you’d hope, with no obvious corrosion, and the only blemishes being a handful of scuffs on the bottom of the exhaust silencers where they’ve gently kissed a speedbump at some point.
The TR6 wears a splendid set of MSW chrome wire wheels with knock-off spinners, which complete the period look with panache, and are shod in fresh period-dimension tyres.
Inside the boot, everything’s as solid as a rock beneath the carpet, and the spare wheel is a correct wire wheel to match the others. Inside the car, the interior is very well presented with its sculpted seats in excellent condition and the dashtop un-cracked. The wood dash is free from lacquer peel, and the gauges function as they should. The radio has been replaced with a modern Kenwood Bluetooth head unit, with Pioneer speakers mounted either side of the centre console – a setup that aids modern usability, but would be easily removable if a purist so desired.
The soft-top is a quality item which is free from holes, tears or split seams, and its plastic windows are clear and have no crazing, folds or milkiness. The hood attaches easily and securely on the correct mounting points.
The under-bonnet area is very well presented, with everything exactly as Triumph intended aside from the handy addition of the electronic ignition and modern starter motor. There are no leaks, and no grime of ages – indeed, it looks very much as it would have done when it was new.
Anyone who’s driven a TR6 will know what to expect of a quality example: an eager and willing surge of grunt from that venerable straight-six, mated to an affable gearbox with well-judged ratios, and a chassis which is at once playful and comfortable. All of these elements are in place here, with the Jasmine Yellow roadster representing a textbook example of what a TR6 should be.
This 2.5-litre motor always starts first-time, and revs as cleanly as you’d expect of such a well cared for machine. There are no leaks, no troubling noises, no surprises. The same is true of the four-speed manual gearbox, which engages cleanly and operates correctly with overdrive on demand in 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
The chassis of the TR6, which was the subject of years of refinement by Triumph, sports a semi-trailing arm independent rear end along with rack-and-pinion steering, and this setup provides a surprisingly modern feel – this particular example feels as tight as a drum, with the handling offering a pleasing mix of control and softness, the steering being firm and precise, and the brakes pulling straight and strong.
One of the owner’s favourite elements of the car is the sound of the crackling overrun through the sports exhaust system, and we’d suggest that this is a key selling point. Because while this car has been pampered and allowed to mellow in garages over the years, it’s also willing and eager to be used. It’s positively straining at the leash to get out and enjoy the summer.
2020 is, it has to be said, quite a strange year on a number of fronts. And while the various machinations of reality have conspired to erode our enjoyment of the day-to-day, that’s perhaps the ideal excuse to invest in something that can transport a person back to a simpler time… and what better choice than a TR6?
Celebrating its fiftieth birthday this year, the Jasmine Yellow TR6 has been biding its time over the generations, just waiting for a new owner to pair up with and paint some new memories in broad strokes across the landscape of the 2020s. The appeal of a simple open-top roadster is undeniable, and in a market rich with options, the TR6 makes an irresistible case for itself: the chassis is remarkably sophisticated for its age, allowing you to fully exploit the power on tap – and with 150bhp to play with, it really is a recipe for wind-in-the-hair thrills. But at the same time, the ride is comfortable and pliant, making for a superb grand tourer as well as a highly amusing sports car.
The TR6, then, is a strong choice. And why this particular TR6? Well, quite simply it’d be tricky to find a better one. This car is, in terms of spec and equipment, exactly as it was when it left the factory, save for the modern ignition, starter motor, and radio. The car has been carefully restored to correct specs, and is every inch the 1970s cruiser, gently optimised for twenty-first century thrills. Whether you’re after a toy for high days and holidays, an addition to a showground collection, or a year-round daily driver, this perky little Triumph could wear any of those disparate hats with verve and aplomb.