I was lucky enough to drive both a standard V8 engine and Essex V6 Stag back in the seventies. Looking back now I remember thinking the V8 was best because of that incredible V8 burble and because it was quicker than its V6 counterpart. However, Triumph’s V8 had a few manufacturing gremlins that lost some of the gloss after purchasing this stunning vehicle.
It’s fair to say that English UK engineers working for Triumph at the time were unaccustomed to either designing or manufacturing V8 engines. As a consequence some basic errors were made that had they asked American engineers would have likely resulted in the construction of a very different and reliable engine. The fact is the Triumph Stag, which had no direct competitor when introduced to the British public didn’t meet sales expectations.
However, my encounter with a pair of Stags and what they were like to drive occurred without mishaps or reliability issues. The standard Stag has a comfortable attractive cabin which serves as a 2+2 and comes with either a removable hardtop or a convertible. American sales influenced the necessity of a roll bar and Triumph’s engineers created a B-pillar roll bar hoop with a T-bar connection to the windscreen. The appearance blended so well it remains a good-looking feature even today. Although troublesome the V8 when working hides its problems well, producing sufficient pulling power (145bhp) to move the car swiftly. The top speed is 115mph and 0-60 is achievable in 9.3 secs. Compared to the Stag with the V6 Essex engine which produced 138 bhp the standard car is noticeably faster. Handling was a little better in the V6 car because it was lighter at the front, although the Stag isn’t badly behaved at the worst of times. As a convertible the Stag ticks all the boxes, the T-Bar provides the body with extra rigidity so scuttle shake is kept to a minimum and both driver and front seat passenger are not buffeted by the wind to the point it becomes uncomfortable. The Stag is also a roomy tourer with a large boot for a coupe/convertible while the rear seats can be used by adults without them suffering too much provided trips are not extended. As looks go it is a matter of personal taste, but I have always liked the face of this car, especially with the hardtop in place. If I were to choose between the V8 or V6, the V6 being the reliable one, I’d probably go for the V8 because it best makes the Stag meet what its creators designed it for. Now I have never tried a Stag with a Rover V8 engine, but the idea sounds to me like the best of both worlds.
Total production: 25,939
How Many Still Motoring in the United Kingdom?
Top Price Viewed 5-3-2023: 1975 Triumph Stag 74,814 Miles £6,500