Should I buy a Triumph Stag? Seriously.


Author: James ElliottPublished:

I have been looking at Triumph Stags all day on the internet. I am not sure why. I guess I have always been a Triumph man at heart, but the Stag was never one of 'my' Triumphs. I also adored that symbiotic design relationship between the whole range when Stag, 2000 Mk2 and later Spitfires plus the rest all echoed each other's front and rear treatments: a genius idea and a feat that I can't think of having ever being repeated, certainly not successfully. I like V8s, too. And my family circumstances mean that a four-seater V8 classic convertible is the ideal car. Of course, they are still ridiculously cheap, too. And have quad headlights.

It's ticking an awful lot of boxes then.

Maybe it is because the only other classic that would envelop all my needs in one would be a Lotus Elan +2 Chris Neil conversion, but then I wouldn't want to hit anything in that with the family aboard. Or a Peugeot 504 V6 convertible, but they are rarer than an modest politician. I prefer the era-defining shape of the Stag to the Pug anyway, always have, largely because I have this weird thing about removable hard-tops and the Stag's is perfect. Scimitar? Nah, not a convertible thanks.

So I want one, in a nice lurid early 1970s hue, manual overdrive, rear seatbelts etc.


Or, I could just do what I always do when a Stag starts swimming upstream Salmon-like in my must-buy list, and that is to go and drive one.

The other day on the telly, Mr Clarkson quipped (wrongly) that all the Chrysler V8 (as fitted to my Interceptor) did was turn fuel into noise. Actually, that engine is pretty powerful… compared to the 3 litre in the Stag. Like the early Buick/Rover V8 its bhp doesn't match up to its consumption, never even topping 150bhp. Ever wondered why every article on a Stag in every classic car magazine ever goes on and on about the noise? It's because the more words you use up talking about the noise, the fewer you have left to talk about the disappointing performance. And it is disappointing. Even owners say so. I well remember interviewing a Stag owner at one of C&SC's Castle Combe action days years ago, one who had done absolutely everything to his car to make it go fast and handle… and then admitted that it still didn't do either.

With a top speed of 116mph and 0-60mpg in 9.3 secs, this is resolutely non-Elan performance. I have driven a load and, frankly, genuinely sorry Stag owners, but they are sluggish, especially with the auto 'box. They don't really handle either. Fact. 

But, even if that is irrefutable, is that any reason not to want one? It still fulfils all my criteria, after all, and is it really the Stag's fault that it looks so full of sporting goodness that its performance comes as an anticlimax? When I say it doesn't perform and doesn't handle, that is grossly unfair, coming from mentally comparing a Stag to a bunch of classics it was never intended to compete with and never designed to be like.

No, the problem is more my unreasonable expectations than the Stag's perceived shortcomings and, as soon as I have finished writing this, I will be looking at a load more. Funny thing is, show me one in profile with its hardtop on and I am approximately 75% more likely to buy it.

Then, when I get back into the office next week, I'll be setting up some kind of spurious Stag drive, to find out if I have changed enough, detuned my demands enough, to finally, this time, follow the path of least resistance and maximum noise. The Stag may not be everything I am looking for in a car, but it might just be the closest I will ever get. If I could have only one classic, what would – affordably - serve my purposes better?

In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts and talk me into it or out of it.


Dinsdale Piranha

Let me know when you can fit me in for a short back and sides.

James Elliott

Sure thing Dinsdale. Let me know when you have any hair for me to cut!
; )

Group Editor, C&SC

Simon Stokes

Why not, there are many worse and less practical things to have, I have always quite fancied one but never had a go. Buy one, try it, decide, then keep or sell. I figure it's better to find out and regret it than not.


Yes buy one. One passed me by yesterday when cycling with my 6 year old and he said it sounded and looked great. I must admit they have always appealed to me since a ride in a friend's dads one back in the late '70s.


Yes absolutely they are great cars and there,s nothing else about in the same configuration. True they,re not the fastest but they are an absolute bargain when you consider what you get for your money. And if like me you are tall there isn,t much else about convertible wise that won,t result in your head sticking out over the top of the screen. Get a manual for that groovy overdrive and pray that the motor is a good,n. Mine was and I had many years of fun in it. I,ll get another one some day to sit alongside my hotted up imp,

Alastair Cox


Well, they sound nice, top down motoring is fun and they're good value. Why not?

They do attract the flat-cap brigade and you will be laughed at, but I can't think of an alternative V8 rag-top at sensible money.

I should buy one too really!

plastic penguin

The short answer is 'yes'. If you value pride of ownership in a car then a Stag is as good as any for the money. Don't let the performance figures throw you off kilter, either: Remember, the Elan is a "plastic pig", light as a feather.


I hope your interest was a genuine one and not a passing fancy and, as the weekend looms, you are ready to go looking for the elusive perfect Triumph Stag.


plastic penguin

Well, Mr. Elliott have you/are you going to dip your toes in the Stag waters? I'm on tenderhooks here... not really, just interested.

GreaseMonkey (not verified)

C'mon James! You can't be serious, you've got a Jensen Interceptor and you're looking at Stags?

I know I will incur the wrath of some regular posters on here, Triumph fans that is, but the trurh has to be told - unless of course you are joking. But wait, the headline says 'serious'. Oh dear, and what justification for this? A family four seater with class, looks and performance? You already have the ideal car.

Keep on top of the Jensen and it will pay you back one day, it's a real class act, even with the fuel bills - or you could be just another hairdresser......

In fact if you read back in the forum under 'How many American classics...' etc, I think I mentioned there about how back in the seventies I used to love burning off Stags in a 1964 Ford Galaxie Station Wagon just because I could. My car pretended to be nothing more than an old shopping wagon, and it ALWAYS left Stags eating my dust, and that was supposed to be a sports car?

You know what a sports car is - a Lotus Elan.

Still, nostalgia ain't what it used to be. Just because some seventies cars came in 'groovy' colours, and all things retro are briefly back in fashion, doesn't suddenly make it a good car. Even Marinas came in weird purples and oranges if you want to go that route, and yes Michelotti was handy with his crayons, but that alone was not enough, too many compromises to make the design work as a whole. Nevertheless for someone on the inside of the Classic Car business to even consider a Stag looks a bit perverse to me - unless of course 'slumming it with the plebs' is in again.

Stick to Classics mate! Chris M.

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