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5 April 2018

After 42 years, this Triumph Stag is still factory fresh

By James Nicholls
What more can one say of this 42 year old beauty except that she does not show her age either in looks or performance. (image credit: James Nicholls)

The Triumph Stag looked the part  when it was released but fell out of favour due to reliability issues. Times have changed and a pristine Stag Survivor, like this one, now fetches a pretty penny.

​When Jeremy Best, the owner of Cummins Classic Cars in Sydney, was looking for a classic car for his own personal use, he could have his pick of stock Aston Martins or Jaguars for which the business is so well respected. Surprisingly, what he chose for himself was a vehicle that is often underrated, the Triumph Stag. A surprise because most of the remaining Stags, targeted at the sophisticated market segment occupied by the Mercedes-Benz 280SL, are in such a sorry state.

The search for a pristine original Stag ended in 2010, when Jeremy discovered this beautiful example for sale in England and imported it to Australia. The Stag presented here is possibly the finest surviving example that ever left the factory - a true Monarch of the Glen from British Leyland.

First launched in 1970, the Triumph Stag was an advanced car for the time, with independent suspension as standard as were the servo-assisted brakes, power steering and electric windows. Despite the fact that it was (and still is) good looking from its elegant dynamic-line design by Giovanni Michelotti, fast with its 3.0 litre V8 engine and well appointed both from the point of view of practicality and comfort, the Stag was never really a huge success. Eventually 25,939 units were built over a seven year period, and this was far shorter than the sales projection.

If you can find a Triumph that has been looked after properly, what a motor the Stag would promise to be. (image credit: James Nicholls) If you can find a Triumph that has been looked after properly, what a motor the Stag would promise to be. (image credit: James Nicholls)

The pinnacle of its success was in 1973 with 5,500 cars sold. However, that same year the Stag was withdrawn from the USA, a marketplace that had been identified as the prime target. The Stag was thirsty and therefore affected by the Middle East Oil Crisis and there were also build quality issues during those turbulent times when Ted Heath was Prime Minister in the UK. But if you could find a good one that has been looked after properly, what a motor the Stag would promise to be.

According to the Factory records, Triumph Stag chassis number LD/22296-BW, engine number LF/21761-HEBW, with body number 21755/21796-LD was built on 1st March 1973. The exterior colour was white, with black trim and a black hood. Factory fitted equipment included a heater, tinted laminated windscreen, inertia-reel seat-belts and a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic gearbox

This was how the car was delivered to Miss P Reece of Poole in the county of Dorset, England on the 13th April 1973, and this is exactly how we find the car now. The original price paid was £2,591.49 sterling, which is confirmed by the original cheque issued from Lloyds Bank which is in the incredible history file. This history file outlines the whole purchase process which started in 1967 when the Reece family were running a Triumph Vitesse.

Miss Reece’s father (keeping copies of all his correspondence on the back of Winalot dog food packets!) wrote to B J Roberts, Distribution Manager at Standard Triumph inquiring about an automatic Vitesse or convertible Triumph 2000 as the traffic was getting too heavy for a manual car. Reece and Roberts continued top correspond before the Stag's eventual purchase, serving to highlight the detail and extent that this particular family put into the consideration of purchasing a new car! Better still, the history file contains all the paperwork pertaining to the next 26 years of servicing by the local garage, Regal Motors, of this Stag which carried the registration UKT 719L from new. Regal Motors can still be found at 218 Bournemouth Road in Poole, though their final service of the Stag took place on 12th February 1999 when the odometer reading was recorded at 31,929 miles.

The interior of the Stag is also pristine and totally original. (image credit: James Nicholls) The interior of the Stag is also pristine and totally original. (image credit: James Nicholls)

When driven for Survivor Car Australia magazine, the Stag had still only covered a fully documented 41,426 miles. It has been immaculately maintained by all four owners including the latest incumbent, Jeremy. Looking over the vehicle, it still sports its original white paintwork, though it has had some professional paint where Miss Reece scratched it on a stationary milk float on one occasion. Yet again, all the relevant paperwork, regarding this contretemps, between owner and insurance company is on file!

The interior of the Stag is also pristine and totally original. Never in its life has a radio been fitted so there are no unsightly holes or screw marks anywhere. The engine and drivetrain are all original and the fabulous V8 sounds and pulls beautifully. It also sits on period correct wheels and tyres. Whilst Jeremy still has the original steel wheels for the car, to his annoyance the tin Rostyle hubcaps rattled so he has upgraded to a set of very smart, correct Factory option Triumph Stag alloys. These are nicely set off by 185x14 Michelins, which happenstance the original delivery paperwork also specified. All of the owner’s service books and log books are of course complete!

What more can one say of this 42 year old beauty except that she does not show her age either in looks or performance. This is a very special machine of unquestionable provenance. In the unlikely event that Jeremy ever decides to part with it through his dealership, do not hesitate to become its fifth owner - you may never get another chance to own a Stag this good.

Source: Survivor Car Australia

Would you take a Triumph Stag over a Jag? Let us know in the comments.