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Triumph TR6: A Triumph of Style

The TR6 (1969-76) was the best-selling TR in history when production ended in 1976. Of the nearly quarter million TR's built, more than 94,000 were TR6's, ninety percent of them to US specifications. The TR6 has a reputation as a car that looks good and sounds right.

The chassis and running gear of the TR6 were essentially the same as those of the TR5/250. The big difference was the body, which for once wasn't left to Giovanni Michelotti. The Italian was tied up on other work for Leyland when the new TR was needed, so Triumph turned to Karmann of Osnabruk, West Germany, well known for its work for VW, Porsche, and BMW.

Given only fourteen months, Karmann completely altered and modernized the TR sports car, without changing the TR5's cowl, doors, or inner panels. Karmann shaved off the hood bump and the bright metal trim from the fenders; went to a single bar grill set against a flat-black meshwork instead of the tubular grill; and reshaped the tail into a sort of Kamm-back, painting the upright section flat-black and wrapping the tail lights horizontally.

The TR6 was a refined sports car. If featured pile carpeting of floors and trunk, plush-looking bucket seats, a wood dash and the usual full complement of instruments. It featured the six-cylinder motor that was carried over from the TR250. Mechanical changes included a front antiroll bar and wider tires and wheels. While it was a remarkable facelift, achieved in record time, it was still an evolution of the old TR4 from 1961 and this put off potential buyers, who went elsewhere.

Despite the production figures stated above, the TR6 never sold at the rate of the TR3A or the TR4. But it was a steady, consistent seller which appealed to the tradition-minded. The development of the TR6 was a slow, evolutionary process from the first TR2. The TR7 that would follow the TR6 was a complete change. So much so, that for a lot of people, the TR6 was were the TR story ended.

There was a great deal of change between 1969 and 1976. Most of the changes occurred to meet US safety and emissions regulations. Other changes were requests from the Triumph North American office, such as the UK flag decal, and the wheels. The US cars used carburetors, while the Uk-market cars were fuel injected. The worst changes occurred in 1971 when the compression was dropped form the original 8.5:1 to 7.75:1, and performance suffered accordingly. The TR6's ride height was raised to meet US minimum headlamp height requirements. This naturally affected the handling. 1971 was also the last year for wire wheels, although the steel disc wheels are much prettier than the dummy units used on the TR250. Changes in 1973 included a reprofiled camshaft, a front spoiler, and a re-designed hardtop. Then bumper guards were later added, which to some, destroyed Karmann's clean, nimble lines.

The last TR6's were sold in the US in 1977, and for that reason some may be titled as 1977 models. This stylish six-cylinder sports car is regarded by many as the last true Triumph.


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Last modified: May 29, 2006