From a young age I knew that I wanted to buy a classic car, something that when coming round to passing my test would look cooler than the alternative Fiestas, Saxos, 106s that my friends were bound to own. At first I had my heart on a Sunbeam Stilleto, a car my dad had at similar age. At the age of 16 I was wowed by the noise and lines of the Triumph GT6, worthy of its “poor mans E-type” label, and that was that, the search was on! The story behind me and my GT6 started off in a side street in Chiswick. After trolling the internet for the ‘one’ I found a tired old GT6 who’s owner had sadly passed, and was in need of a quick sell. As soon as saw it in that dingy alley in Chiswick looking very sorry for itself I was sure it was the one! Initially it looked rather rough. There was a paint deformity on the bonnet (big blob of dark red!), torn seats, and a black dirty chassis. When I slid my finger down the outriggers to reveal fresh red pain, I knew it had potential. So there it was at the age of 16 I was the proud owner of a GT6 Mk2, and since that day we have been through a lot.
Curvacious bonnet and a straight 6 oozing character
Spacious, yet an interior full of purpose.
After a year of tinkering and punishment, I sat in the passengers side whilst my Dad gladly drove it around till I passed my test. You may be wondering how I insured a car like this. Well remarkably back then, classic car insurance was available to young drivers and I managed to snap up a good deal. Three months into ownership it was written off, on the daily commute into college as a John deer Tractor pulled out in front of me, with nowhere to go I was simply a passenger in a rather nasty accident. With the tractor driver being charged with driving without due care and attention and the insurance money transferred into my bank account I decided to buy the car off the insurers for £900 and rebuild it (which would be classed as a uneconomical rebuild). With the insurers money paid out by the tractor driver I handed it over to West Country Triumph in the south west of England. After five or six months it was completely rebuilt, with a lovely new coat of paint, driving it home put a massive smile on my face! In addition, 4 spoke revolution wheels and a 6-3-1 stainless steel exhaust system was added for better performance, looks and noise! Although controversial, I’m probably accurate in saying that if I hadn’t written the car off on that grim autumn morning, my GT6 probably wouldn’t look as great as it does now. However, it bloody hurt!
The GT6 takes a shunt, but all was not lost.
West Country Triumph get ready to re-paint the GT6
I’ve been very lucky, whilst owning this car I have met some great people through Club triumph. It’s always great to take cars like this to shows and talk about the thing you love. Driving to shows in a convoy of 9 GT6’s has to be one of the highlights! One of the issues that has restricted me from driving it on a regular basis is fuel costs. The 2ltr straight 6 engine averages about 20-25 mpg (depending on how heavy your right foot is!) and with a relatively small tank, that does tend to mean regular visits to Mr BP! Since I have owned the car I have done 15,000 miles in it. Each year, me and my dad travel down to Cornwall for a few days sea fishing. I took this GT6 down to Cornwall in 2010 and it wasn’t all fun fun fun! Whilst driving towards Exeter the cabin was suddenly filled with oily smoke. Disaster! The AA man had confirmed the worst, low compression in most of the cylinders. So it was bye piston rings, bye GT6. 200 miles from home, and no car! Luckily some nice chap at a local car rental gave us a Pug 207 SW. Not quite as much of a head turner, but easier to fit the fishing rods in!
GT6 on the slipway in Port Isaac
The 2lt straight six showing the goods.
In terms of the car it’s pretty standard. I have added a Lucas 22d distributor with electronic ignition to replace the rather unreliable Delco Remi unit. With the engine rebuilt earlier this year, it’s pulling well and running like clockwork. I have upgraded the disks and put shorted harder springs and adjustable avo shocks. Future plans include removing my tired Strombergs and replacing them with twin HS6 SU’s and a sportier cam. However, a mega jolt system or even a fuel injection system hasn’t been overlooked! I’m still using it frequently, and after 5 years of ownership it still puts a huge smile on my face. Buying the GT6 over my mums clapped out fiesta was the greatest decision I’ve made to date! Oh and if you ever own a GT6, wear shorts (violently warm at times!) and wind the window down when going through a tunnel….(greatest noise on earth)!
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