Sunshine in England means one thing – taking the Stag out for a spin.
Then fixing the electrics.
I love it!
Reminds me of a time several years ago where I saw someone driving an MG with a temp tag. Hmmm I thought, he just got and it runs. Of course, about three miles down the road, he was on the side with the hood up. Lucas IS consistant.
Sushine in England?
See, thats the problem right there….points to terrible Triumph V8, I never understood why they didn’t just stick the Buick-Rover V8 in there and call it a day.
Because that would have been the sane thing to do.
If our British car manufacturers made sane decisions about developing their cars, they wouldn’t be where they are… uh… today.
It never fails to amaze me that there are Stags still used as daily dungers here but there are 3 I see regularly around town, they were never the most reliable beast out there mostly due to engine overheating problems rather than electrical issues.
If you’re lucky, the electrics. If not, the cam chain.
As to why not the Rover V8: This car was designed in the early days of British Leyland, and Triumph was hanging desperately on to it’s own identity. I’ve read in some sources (although there’s a fair bit of argument on the point) that the designers deliberately set the engine bay up so the Rover V8 couldn’t fit. Then again, at that point nobody was expecting the engine to turn out to be such a turkey
Triumph had good reason to be paranoid about brand identity. This was, I believe, the last automobile to actually be designed as a Triumph. The TR7/TR8 was actually the “British Leyland sports car” which was given the Triumph badge shortly before introduction (I believe the car was essentially an Austin design), and the final Triumph was nothing more than a rebadged Honda Ballade/Civic.
The marque realized early on that the B-L amalgamation wasn’t going to do it any good whatsoever.
This isn’t exactly how it went down, but it is a complicated subject.
The Triumph V8 and slant four (which are closely related) were conceived in the early sixties and in development well before Leyland (which owned Standard-Triumph from late 1960) bought out Rover in 1966. The merger of BMC and Leyland didn’t come about until the spring of 1968, at which point development of the Stag and its engine was well under way. (The Stag was originally slated to bow in 1969.)
Right after the merger, BLMC promoted Triumph’s Harry Webster to technical director of Austin-Morris and moved Spen King from Rover to Triumph. King said he inquired about using the Rover V8 in the Stag (and presumably by extension the 2000/2.5 saloon on which the Stag was based), but the Triumph people insisted it wouldn’t fit. That wasn’t true — I’ve seen Rover-powered Stags, and the owners have indicated it isn’t a terribly difficult swap — but at the time, King had other fish to fry, so he took no for an answer and moved on.
Even if the Triumph people had been more open to abandoning an engine they had designed and in which they’d already invested a lot of money, BLMC might well have decided it didn’t make sense to do so, at least in the short term. BLMC was definitely interested in consolidation, but it wasn’t going to happen overnight. Rover had a finite amount of capacity, which was about enough for the P6 3500 and the Range Rover. (They had the problem in the seventies that they couldn’t build enough V8s for everyone who wanted to use them.)
If you’d asked BLMC officials in 1969, they might well have said that the Triumph V8 would be the better choice. It was a newer and in some ways more modern design (it had better breathing and greater specific output), plus it had commonality with the slant four. BLMC had hoped to use the Triumph engine more widely, particularly in the 2000/2.5 saloons, and I don’t think they dropped those plans until after the V8 went on sale turned out to be a big warranty headache.
As for why they didn’t swap the Rover engine in later, I think it was partly a capacity issue and partly that by the time it became obvious how problematic the Stag V8 was becoming, BLMC was having serious money issues. The corporation had had big plans for Triumph, but the money just wasn’t there, so the Stag just stumbled along with almost no changes.
Rover V8s fit Stags and 2000/2500 sedans easily in fact the horrible Leyland P76 was an amalgamation of Triumph front end and bored out Rover V8 in fact those were the good bits the rest was from the borgwarner dumpster
Saw a Triumph 2000 sedan for sale in Napier a year or 3 ago; looked like a nanna car in the factory light blue paint with skinny tyres and cream vinyl interior. I wondered why the dealer had $8K on it, then discovered it had a 350 Chev V8 and Ford 9 inch diff in it. Engine fitted like a dream, made for a total sleeper…!
It is definitely true that the Jag XJ40 was designed for an inline motor only, as they were paranoid about being forced to use the Rover V8. Caused a lot of trouble when they finally decided to put the V12 in later.
Another transplant candidate seen out here in Stags is the Holden 253 V8. They are compact but not especially so, I think it is more the relatively close capacity being the reason they are chosen. Mind you I think these days the Triumph engine can be made to work properly so it is feasible to retain it and still be able to drive the car!
Properly flushing the casting sand out will cure the overheating in a Stag V8. Triumph used 2 slant 4s joined to create this engine the same slant 4 they sold to Saab
Regarding Lucas: Admittedly, my experience is on the Triumph motorcycle side, but over the last 25 years the only complaint I’ve had about Lucas has been original components failing. And those original components were anywhere from 25-40 years old. No, their not as good as Nippon-Denso. However, any broken down English vehicle with electrical problems can probably trace it back to still having original parts under the hood/tank.
At the same time, the reputation is such that back in 1988 when the Hinckley factory was speccing out components for the upcoming 1991 Triumphs, Lucas attempted to bid. They were immediately shown the door, told that under no conditions were the manufacturer interested in listening to their presentation and quite frankly, “We cannot afford to carry your parts on these bikes.” Told to me years ago by one of the Hinckley personnel who was there at the time.
A few years later when Triumph started using fuel injection (from Sagem, a French company either tied in with or owned by Lucas, as it turned out), some early components arrived with “Lucas” imbedded in the castings. It was promptly ground off, and a rather sharp memo was sent out to the necessary parties at Sagem.
I have a collection of Lucas components outside in my 59 Hillman and they all work and comoared to the electrical nightmares from Germany that VW beetles were I dont complain to much about Lucas
Edit took my Hillman for a spin the alternater failed yep its Lucas from a Ford Cortina
Lucas used to make some good stuff- bakelite & brass & really good quality. In the middle 60s, they went to the Melt-O-Matic plastics (don’t leave them out in the sun) & were pretty horrible.
The Stag, though, managed to be pretty horrible mechanically, enough that they would cause trouble before the Lucas electrics.
Lucas made what buyers asked for – designs cut to the bone for cheapness. The fault lies not with the builder, but the supplier of the specs.
By an odd coincidence, I re-watched “Straw Dogs” (1971) last night, in which Dustin Hoffman drives a white Stag just like the one above… except of course that Hoffman’s actually runs. But then, that’s the magic of the movies, isn’t it? A fantabulous world where Superman can fly, a giant gorilla can climb the Empire State, and British-Leyland products start up on the first crank:
Scroll about halfway down for several fuzzy screen-grabs of Hoffman’s H-registration Stag (and a delightfully braless Susan George).
Director:Cue the jokes on how bad Lucas Electrics are! Places everyone! Places!
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
About Arras WordPress Theme
Copyright 2011 - 2016 Curbside Classics. All Rights Reserved.