I am just the third owner of this car, originally Carmine Red. The original owner had it for eight years in upstate New York before selling it to the second owner who kept it in Rutland Vermont for 17 years and then sold it to me in 2001. When I found it, it had sat in a garage, unused for 2.5 years and had some rust problems. The PO had put about $2500 into the car prior to parking it, including a rebuilt transmission and a new clutch. The PO suffered a major medical event and was no longer able to drive it. My friend and I got her started and limped it home with only two working brakes. Over the next few years, I went through it system by system, got it mechanically sound and replaced floor pans and rockers, 4 wings, front valance, door skins and upgraded many components while trying to retain as much originality as practical. Upgrades were made to improve safety and reliability and included the HVDA tube shock conversion (with frame reinforcement), outrigger & t shirt replacement, Spax shocks front and rear; Poly bushings in front with poly trailing arm bushings in rear; Goodparts adjustable trailing arm brackets; differential mount reinforcement with poly bushings. Goodparts alloy steering rack mounts; Falcon stainless steel exhaust; Pertronix Ignitor; Hella H4’s; The frame up restoration was completed in 2004
In October 2005, while changing the fuel line from the tank and adding a fuel shutoff, a spark from a broken drop light ignited a stream of gas draining from the line. (I know, I know, mechanics 101, never ever use an incandescent drop light near gasoline!!) The result was a flash fire and a totaled TR6. After receiving an agreed value settlement from Hagerty (5 Stars & two thumbs up!!) I purchased the car back from them and started re-restoration immediately. This was a devastating and heartbreaking event after 3 years of work but I managed to get her back on the road in September of 2006, just in time to show at the 2006 British Invasion in Stowe VT.
Just an incredible and fun car to drive and it has performed flawlessly every year since with not one major problem to report. I installed Diamondback T4 Redlines (which are a Yokohama Avid T4). Say what you will but this one detail really makes the car. There is just something about a TR6 and Redlines!! They look great!! See the pics I have added.
2011: I have added the Advance Auto Wire Auxiliary Fuse panel to power a double cigarette lighter plug for my phone, GPS and driving lights and the AAW headlight relay kit for the Hella H4’s. Both are great upgrades that add safety and reliability to an otherwise poorly designed, weak wiring system. I also added LED brake light inserts from Classic Auto LED. These cement into the taillight lens and provide superior light output for tail and brake lights. They consist of 60 LED bulbs per side and give tremendous light output viewed from all angles. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise, this is an expensive yet necessary upgrade that could save your life! I was sick of tailgating, distracted SUV drivers right on my rear bumper with two weak 1157’s mounted 4 feet below their line of vision. When you spend as much time looking in your rearview mirror as you do looking forward, it is time to find some other options.
Summer 2012: I sent my ZS carbs and intake manifold to Paltech in Ohio for rebuilding/polishing. Came back looking great. I mounted them up and am still trying to get them dialed in. While the carbs were off, I sent the exhaust manifold off to be ceramic coated and the valve cover to be powder coated. I purchased a new dash this winter from Randy Keller at Prestige Autowood in San Diego. When I opened the box I was stunned to see the quality of this dash. It should be in a museum. The wood is an African Rosewood Kewazinga Pattern.
Winter 2015: The car continues to drive amazingly well, and has been put away for it’s annual winter slumber. Honestly, other than adding a half quart of oil every few weeks it has proven to be an ultra-reliable blast to drive that brings a smile to my face every time I get behind the wheel. I know the engine will need a rebuild at some point but it still runs great so why bother until I have to.
Summer 2016: It has been a great summer for driving! Numerous paving projects in Vermont have paved some of the best driving roads to be found anywhere. This has been a game changer as these roads had really deteriorated and now they are in incredible shape. Route 125 through Middlebury gap and Route 140 in Wallingford are just two examples. My speedometer and odometer stopped working and I sent it out to Morris Mintz at West Valley Instruments in CA for an overdue rebuild. It came back clean and working perfectly. It makes the other gauges look dull. I have decided to install a GPS drive for the speedometer and ordered one of the beta test units from Classic Automotive Innovations (www.classicautoinnovations.com) and should be receiving one of these units within a few weeks and will report back once installed. Very excited to test this new product.
Summer 2017: I love the GPS speedometer from Classic Automotive. It took a while to get it dialed in with the proper cable and mounting location. There was a problem with the vehicle power source, then there was a recall for a part change but remember that this was a beta test unit. It has been working perfectly for a while and regardless of what I do with tires and transmissions it will always read accurately. The engine continues to use more oil, about 1 qt per 300 miles and it fouls the #4 plug about every 500 miles but it otherwise runs great and seems like short money compared to an engine rebuild. I was thinking sticking valve but I have tried everything to get it unstuck with no success.
Start of the 2018 driving season and the car, although driving well with a good idle and strong power, was using a lot of oil and fouling the #4 plug every few hundred miles. I had never done any internal engine work on this car for economic reasons but it was getting progressively worse over the years. I was climbing Route 4 to Killington in June, in 3rd gear at about 4,000 RPM, when the engine started stumbling badly. Thinking ignition, I limped it home and searched for a solution but everything checked out. It started well, drove ok but still had a persistent stumble. A compression check revealed the problem. Of course, no compression in the #4 cylinder. My hope was to have the engine rebuilt prior to the British Invasion in September but this proved to be an unattainable goal. Most good engine builders were booked up thru the summer and those that were not, were ridiculously expensive. Still thinking valves, I went looking for a rebuilt head but there was not one available for a late CF model. My driving year was over.
I continued to go to all of the regional British car shows but as a spectator while doing research and talking to other owners about engine rebuilds and options. I went back & forth about just pulling the head or the whole engine. It was finally determined that the engine had to come out for a full rebuild. This was the correct choice as it ultimately turned out to be a broken #4 piston, also fairly common in the TR6. My mechanic pulled the engine for me and dropped it off at Edger Engines in Castleton VT. Matt had an excellent reputation as a race engine builder and had done a few TR4’s and an MGB 4 cylinder but never a 6 cylinder TR6 motor. Due to various delays, mostly due to his in depth research and perfectionism, it was November before we got the engine back and Matt had done an amazing job. He went beyond my expectations. We got the engine installed in late November and after quite a few obstacles were overcome, it fired right up and we got the cam (Goodparts GP2) broken in, then we shut it down and put the car away for winter.
On a freezing cold day in mid-January 2019, I loaded up the car into an enclosed 16’ trailer I use at work and trailered the car down to Mass to the home of TR6 enthusiast, guru and TR6 racer, Bob Lange. It was great day talking cars and I learned so much as we worked on the clutch, tuned up and adjusted the carbs, set the timing and adjusted the valves. He really got things sorted out and now I could finally put the car away for the rest of the winter. The interior was still out, the bonnet was off and the grill and dash were out but she was ready for spring!
Projects that were completed while the engine was out were: engine bay paint, Art Lipp’s throttle shaft bushings, Art Lipp’s steering column bushings, painting the various underhood parts, basically detailing the engine bay. I also added a Ted Schumacher braided oil pressure line and had all the small gauges rebuilt by Nisonger Instruments.
Parts that were replaced “while I was in there” included: The stock fan assembly was removed and replaced with the Rick Patton fan eliminator kit. A Wizard aluminium radiator with SPAL electric fan was installed along with a Goodpart’s aluminium radiator shroud, TRF Magic clutch kit, rebuilt clutch slave and master by Apple Hydraulics; High output 6 vane water pump from Flying Dutchman. Higher output, 55 amp Delco alternator, Hi-torque starter from Ted Schumacher, I replaced the 100 watt H4’s with LED bulbs. Bright white light seems like a good improvement, it draws far less amperage than the H4’s and should last a lot longer while being at least as bright.
Driving Impressions: The stock 6 cyl engine cranks out a whopping 95 horsepower and with nothing to compare it to, it is more than adequate for most driving needs. It produces high torque and with the standard 4 speed, has decent low end pulling power. I figure that with the modest engine improvements that I now have about 135 HP. This has not been confirmed with any dyno results yet, but with basic calculations. 3 over pistons and head shaved to 9.5:1 with the GP2 cam. The Goodparts GP2 cam is a high performance street profile that offers very good idle, fantastic torque in low and mid range and good top end power up to about 5500rpm. Its lower torque range makes it the best choice for street, and autocross. The only thing I can say is that it has really transformed the driving experience. It is so much more enjoyable to drive. It pulls really strong at lower RPM’s and this continues throughout the power band. Going up the mountains, it has much more power to spare. Whereas before it would sometimes be difficult to find a gear between 2nd and 3rd in the hilly turns, now it pulls strongly in all gears. I believe that this is the power the Triumph engineers envisioned when they designed the car before the US Government got involved with emissions regulations that robbed the car of its power.
The spring of 2019 started early. I wanted to get the car out of its winter storage to start getting all the pieces and parts reinstalled so that when the short Vermont driving season arrived, the car would be ready to go. Many days it would just be too cold in the garage to do any work but I started chipping away when I could, starting in April. I started in the following order: the dashboard, interior, bonnet, electrical and clean up.
I started driving in early May and wow, what a great ride! It drove like a champ. The timing of many of the shows just did not work for me that summer as we had conflicting plans for the dates of almost every show. Life gets in the way. I got only one show in but got great feedback and still managed to put on almost 3,000 miles. By far, the most I have ever done in one season in the 18 years I have owned the car. At the end of the season, I again loaded up the car and trailered it down to Bob Lang, where he adjusted the carbs, tune, valves and timing. I then winterized everything, changed the fluids and put it away for the year.
Now that the engine is performing well, I will now turn my attention to handling again. Although I really adore the look of the redline tires, I fear that they could be the weak link in the handling of the car. Bob Lang alluded to this. The redlines are a 205/75R15 and although they look great on the car, it never handled better than when it had the 195/65R15’s mounted up. I have played with tire pressures, adjusted the Spax shocks but when driving the twisty mountain roads, the handling just seems a bit nervous to me. This is a fairly typical complaint with the TR6 but I will continue to work on this.
Summer of 2020: Covid-19 and all shows are cancelled. I still managed to put on 2k miles this summer just driving my favorite routes, even taking 6 weeks off for a broken right arm (could not shift!) While driving thru Middlebury on Rt 30 enroute to Middlebury Gap, I noticed a minor clunking when I let off the gas. This came on suddenly and was followed by a vibration. It felt like a u joint but all u joints were relatively new, replaced within 3k miles and recently lubed. I tried to nurse it home but lost the drive. From the time I noticed the clunk to the time the drive let go was no more than 35 miles! Inspection revealed the DS u joint had come apart. Instead of replacing all the u joints with upgraded Neapco’s I elected to invest in the Goodpart’s CV axles. These things are a work of art and could be in a museum. No vibration, super smooth and should be good for years without any issues again. Very expensive but how much is my peace of mind worth?
Thank you for reading!