21 July 2020

More than an old car #150: Triumph GT6

2 years ago, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the classic car concours held at the Fullerton Hotel, and I am sure we never thought that car events would be forced to a halt today. It may be a long while before we are able to feel the pleasure of admiring these pieces of history displayed for all to see, but let me indulge in some nostalgia with this 1967 Triumph GT6!

In 1963, the Standard-Triumph Motor Company commissioned the renowned car designer, Giovanni Michelotti to design a 'grand tourer' for its latest offering, the Triumph GT4. The prototype was stylistically pleasing, but the added weight due to the new body resulted in poor performance from the then-current 4-cylinder engine. Some time later, a more powerful 6-cylinder engine was used as a replacement, resulting in the GT6 (GT model and 6-cylinder engine). It was also called the 'poor man's E-Type': you could see the hints in the sleek fastback design and the opening rear hatch. While strictly for 2 occupants, a small rear seat could be ordered, big enough for small children.

The interior featured a wooden dashboard which housed a full range of instruments, with carpets and heater included as standard. Despite the superior performance when compared against its direct competitor, the MG BGT, the rear suspension was heavily criticised. It was unable to live up to the expectations of Triumph owners, who took issue with its propensity to break apart during hard cornering. As the GT6 was designed with the US market in mind, Triumph had to nip the problem in the bud.

In 1969, the Mk 2 was released with obvious facelifts done and an improved suspension. Shortly afterwards in 1970, the final iteration, the Mk 3, was released. The Mk 1 GT6 was powered by a 1996 cc i6 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 171 km/h with an acceleration of 12 seconds [0-60 mph]. It was 3632 mm long and weighed in at an impressively light 864 kg.

Production of the GT6 ended in 1973, with 15,818 Mark Is made. It is understood that a majority of them were in LHD for the US market, making RHD versions quite rare too. This immaculate example is currently the only one in Singapore, as it was never sold here officially back then. However, at least 1 Mk 3 existed here in 1977 based from old newspaper ads that I found. The wire wheels are a classic touch and the red paint hints at its power under the hood. It doesn't appear on the roads often except during events, but the fact that this still lives on after so long is a testament to its timeless appeal even despite its obscurity. Hopefully, you will be able to see it soon!

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