The Triumph marque, by contrast, has a lot to offer the aspiring rebuilder from hairy chested TRs to cheap and cheerful sedans, any of which is eons ahead of any Holden of its day and many more days thereafter. No Triumph is less than thirty years old and none is perfect. Even the awe-inspiring, nut and bolt, ground-up restoration has the original faults built in at the factory; they're just a lot shinier than they've been for decades. With thirty years of automotive development to aid or colour our thinking, we can make the decision to restore a vehicle as either factory perfect or owner perfect. There is a big difference. Factory perfect speaks for itself. Owner perfect is placed on a continuum. At one end, this means splashing out on a new battery and paying rego. At the other, it's as wild as the imagination goes, limited only by dollars, delight or divorce.
Is there a correct path? It depends on who or what influences you the most. There’s merit and value in either choice. Since I'm dealing with a Stag here, and I have the experience of almost a decade of using one as a full-time commuter, I know the nature of the beast. My last Stag gave valiant service until it was utterly flogged, but it still refused to die. It never overheated. The handling was more than acceptable (for a nose-heavy GT) yet it rode softly. And that wonderful sound - all the right eight cylinder noises. Not much compares with its curvaceous beauty. Are you starting to get the idea that I like them? That’s why I will restore my latest Stag.
My new Stag was bought as a cheapie into which I threw a new battery and rego. Sound familiar? Then the plot changed. It was a distraction of the eBay variety that set wheels in motion. Gear wheels. I put a frivolous bid of 100 pounds on a low mileage manual gearbox with J type overdrive, and won it. Then the list grew to include the rest of the auto-to-manual conversion parts from flywheel to console timber. At the same time, Rimmer’s (UK’s biggest Triumph parts warehouse) had a special on Stag parts, so I snavelled a lot of components that had always been on the wish list. The sliding scale began its journey from cheerfully low-cost to more specialised; the continuum’s ride continuuming into greater cost.
So what does this mean in real terms? The engine was running too hot so the heads must need attention. Solution: a full engine rebuild kit purchased and ready to install. Sloppy was the best adjective to describe the ride; the handling frighteningly less than precise. Solution: all suspension bushes replaced with poly, and shockies replaced with on-car adjustable GAZ dampers. To reduce the centre of gravity and improve handling, lowered, progressively wound springs are ready to fit (with camber compensating mounts for the read swinging arms). Datsun axles will complete the rear mods. The full extent of engine mods is still in the “What if…” stage, Whether or not a four barrel 390cfm Holley carb will be used, or fuel injection, is uncertain… hmmmm…injection. Initially it will re-emerge with Strombergs. The cam profiles in standard form are very mild. Maybe some tweaking will be done. To help get the spent gases away, a large bore stainless system including extractors is ready on the shelf.
So why would you? Maybe you wouldn’t. Why modify such a lovely car? The Stag has the best compromise in comfort and handling of any car I’ve driven. This Stag will be better because it will be slightly lower (one and a quarter inches) and ride on less elastic polyurethane bushes. Although it makes it better to drive in traffic, the main disappointment in any Stag is the power-sucking automatic transmission. My Borg Warner slushbox is getting the heave-ho. In its place, one overhauled eBay auction win. Points can be a bugbear, so electronics will substitute for the standard dizzy components as a bolt-in replacement, again compliments of eBay. I think I am going to have some fun! Updates as they happen!Cheers, and keep playing with your Triumphs.