They say you should never meet your heroes and certainly in the case of film stars who are better at delivering killer lines than holding engaging conversations that might well be the case, but in driving a Triumph TR6 PI for the first time I was left in no doubt about this car’s iconic status.
Dubbed the last real sports car, a strapline I’m sure TVR, Morgan, Lotus and many other marque owners would dispute there is definitely still something about the macho looking Triumph TR6 PI that makes you appreciate why that comment was made. After all if Triumph as a car manufacturer is going to be remembered for anything then the TR6 PI must surely be right up there as one of their best.
True the far rarer TR5 and TR250 model for the North American market will always trump the TR6 in terms of value but with some 83,480 cars produced the reach of the later model is far greater. In both cases the PI bit remains extremely important because only available in the UK it puts our test car in the much rarer bracket of just 8,370 TR6s originally fitted with Lucas Petrol Injection. That represents 10% of total TR6 production and so with the number of cars being repatriated from drier climes buyers need to be aware and do their homework to be sure they’re getting an original UK car.
To give you a feel for the challenge according to howmanyleft.co.uk there were 4,000 TR6s registered in the UK in 2007. At the close of 2013 that number had climbed to 4,500 cars which can only be from the import of less desirable models bucking the trend of any natural wastage in UK car stock. Just to confuse matters further British Motor Heritage offer brand new shells that enable original V5 logbook details to be maintained on any TR6 and so also worth making sure all numbers match.
At launch early UK cars earned a reputation of being wild to drive on the road with a high lift cam producing a full 150bhp where as our later 1975 Triumph TR6 PI left the factory with a more driveable 125bhp. By comparison North American market cars used twin Stromberg carburettors to deliver a far less impressive 104bhp which is why the Triumph TR6 PI stands out and the reasoning for emphasising the importance on being clear about any potential purchase if in the market to buy.
Externally the Triumph TR6 PI looks true to its TR origins, in fact the screen and doors are the same as the TR5/ TR250 that went before as is the chassis. Styling updates, most notably the nose and tail came courtesy of Karmann in Germany at a time when in-house design guru Michelotti was engaged on other British Leyland projects. The result is a handsome look that is both strong and quintessentially British. Something enhanced further by the walnut dashboard, optional wire wheels and centrally mounted almost race car like filler cap immediately in front of the boot lid.
Getting in is a relatively straight forward affair, the doors open wide and both occupants can stretch themselves out fully once sat inside. Shoulders are close but not forced to touch which makes the compact size feel about right. Shut the door, lock the inertia reel seat belt in place and it is time to power up the 2.5 litre straight six. Oddly the ignition key is mounted below the steering column, presumably to incorporate an essential by 1975 steering lock. Turn it and with some coaxing the Lucas injection system adds the necessary fuel for the Triumph engine to fire into life.
The noise and smell that fills the cockpit, largely from the rear exit exhaust is both distinctive and at the same time purposeful. Having previously reviewed the earlier 2.2litre four cylinder TR4A which was certainly torquey but not overtly sporty it was going to be very interesting to see what happens next. The Triumph TR6 PI did not disappoint; the extra two cylinders and subsequent increase in capacity maintain the same high torque whilst introducing a certain spirit that encourages the engine to be revved higher than before. This car for me was already looking like the hero I wanted it to be.
Combine rev happy and yet still torquey six cylinder power and connect that to a firm feeling Triumph Stag sourced manual four speed gearbox with overdrive in third and fourth gears and the result is a car that will punch forwards easily up to the ton with considerable ease whilst providing an opportunity to keep the revs nice and low again as soon as you’re ready. The feel of the gearbox is quite superb being mechanical and precise in equal measure and containing some very well judged ratios. Overdrive yet again proves to be a great companion particularly when a quick down change is required. No real effort is needed either, just a quick flick of the column mounted switch.
All Triumph TR6s came with decent servo assisted anchors combining disc brakes up front and large drums at the rear to ensure no unwelcome dramas whilst slowing things back down. The all-round independent suspension on our car works well with the rack and pinion steering ensuring the Triumph TR6 PI can be hustled through bends with considerable ease. The only disturbance comes from the front end’s sensitivity to road imperfections which can cause it to skip left and right.
When driving one of these cars a brisk pace can easily be maintained pretty much everywhere right on the outer limit of the legal speed limit. Overdrive is terrific at filling gaps between third and fourth where a quick flick of the lever loses or gains a ratio right at the point of need with minimal delay or effort. Once engaged in top gear it also means a relatively high cruising speed can still translate into decent and welcome fuel economy. Official figures at the time suggested low twenties but I think these days on a well maintained Triumph TR6 PI at least 20% better than that is realistic.
The Triumph TR6 PI is utterly satisfying to pilot and has absolutely no issue keeping up with modern day traffic, even those clearly in a rush to be somewhere else. In fact on a few occasions it showed a few a completely clean pair of heels. This is one car hero that for me remains very much on top its game and significantly in these times of instant celebrity that after spending quality time together.
How does this car make you feel?
In one word: British
As a favourite meal: Breakfasts featured highly on this trip and so smoked haddock with poached eggs.
Anything Else: Perfect two seat package. Triumph six with Lucas Fuel Injection is a gem mated to a strong feeling Stag sourced gearbox with useful ratios and the benefit of overdrive which means you are never in the wrong gear.
Key Ingredients: Triumph 2.5litre engine, competent chassis and good brakes that mean the TR6 can be hustled along at a decent pace with ease.
That’s our view now share yours. Simply add your feedback below, or tell us what else you would like to see featured using the Online Form
Also did you know that by simply pressing the Facebook Like or Google+ buttons below, it not only lets your friends know you like something, it also makes it easier for them to find as well.