You don’t normally think of the familiar Triumph Stag as a glamorous Bond movie car – but in the 1971 Diamonds Are Forever film Sean Connery drives one to Amsterdam – an early press car RVC 435H, which still survives – and it looks a proper 007 motor with its handsome Michelotti lines. But Triumph’s four-seater drop-top has never been seen as sexy as other classics like the Mercedes SL or Austin Healey 3000. Perhaps it was all those overheated engines and propensity for rust. We think that this view is changing and Stags need to be reconsidered as very underrated classics. There’s that rumbling V8 engine, twin drainpipe exhausts, clever rollover hoop and snug hardtop plus the fact that Stag’s make great family summertime transport.
British Leyland spoilt a very fine looking car by woeful under development. The manual gearbox was a revised TR4A unit and the 3.0litre engine suffered water circulation problems in the alloy cylinder heads plus crankshaft and timing chain issues. Many early cars ruined their engines very quickly dooming the Stag’s reputation for decades. BL did little to correct things and its amazing to know that back in 1969 Triumph spent less on factory tooling for the Stag than we spend making a series of The Classic Car Show! Management should have used the trusted Rover 3.5 V8 instead of Triumph’s own flawed engine design.
But over the years specialists have managed to crack the overheating issues so most will run cool if properly fettled and run on antifreeze with a corrosion inhibitor. And if you find one that’s been restored or just gently used you’re likely to be buying real value at today’s low market prices. As Alex told us in his piece on the show you can buy a reasonable Stag for £5,000 and a really nice one for £10k and that puts them considerably behind Mercedes R107 SL and Pony Mustang convertible values. A friend has just bought a perfect and unmolested 7,000-mile Stag for £25,000 that I think it’s a monster bargain that will definitely appreciate over time.
There are lots on the market so you can afford to be very fussy and go for genuine low mileage cars with plenty of past history. I’d avoid anything shabby or knackered, as prices aren’t currently high enough to make a full restoration financially viable. Only buy the best you can afford because they’ll cost you much less in the long run. There’s not much difference in price between the earliest 1970 MK1 cars and the last of the line ’77 examples. But I’d go for the earliest you can find, as they’re the purest looking and rarest of all. Remember too there’s an automatic version that makes an effortless cruiser. Buy a cherished low mileage car with long history that’s been cared for by a Stag specialist and you’ll have one of the best value classic V8 convertibles on the market today. It really is time we started to give the Triumph Stag some long-overdue love.