Looking at a Triumph... bad idea?

A similar car was called a Sunbeam Tiger…

You could find a BRG Miata and have a body shop re-badge it with the correct Triumph trim pieces. Call it a TR-4c. Correctly done, few people would realize the slight-of-hand…

English cars do not leak oil, they are just marking their territory.

This thread is great just for the quotes:

The British never made a car, they made a hobby.
English cars do not leak oil, they are just marking their territory.

Headroom (in) 34.6
Though, top down, sky’s the limit.
And yes, it didn’t go into production until 2000, but it’d probably be a lot more reliable than a Triumph, and just as fun. Plus, while the Miata is another fun car, you wouldn’t get lost in the sea of Miatas

Bit of a thread jump but this Tiger makes me drool…

For the original poster, you can see there are many avenues you could go for $4k on a project sports car.

All the British roadsters of that era needed constant care…but I love 'em all. The Spitfire is my favorite.

To get realistic, the Miata is a far better choice, and if you should happen to get in an accident your odds of survival are far higher. Lift the hood on the Triumph (no matter what model) and you’ll find a tiny negine surrounded by a few metal rods and lots of air. At least the Miata has SOME semblance crash protection.

It’s not necessarily a bad idea. But, you need to understand what you would be getting yourself into. A couple of years ago, I was looking for a fun car to drive in retirement. After considering a number of old Jaguars, Porsches and BMWs, I bought a new Infiniti G37. It was no more expensive than decent examples of the old stuff and a much better car in every way.

An old English sports car isn’t really an automobile. It is more like a mobile hobby. Ditto for old Italian sports cars. Old Porsches, BMWs and Mercedes are somewhat better, but much more expensive when they do break.

If you really want an old car, avoid anything newer than 1967. Emission and safety regulations took effect the following year with devastating consequences for the appearance and performance of most European models.

If you limit yourself to English cars, good candidates are the MGB, Austin Healey 3000, Triumph TR-4 and TR-6. There are also the MGA and TR-3, but the later models are better cars. There is nothing wrong with the Austin Healey Sprite or MG Midget (same car, different names), but they are down market from the others. I never liked the Triumph Spitfire.

I have deliberately excluded Jaguars and Lotuses. Jags have become overpriced collector cars. I recently saw an ad for an XKE coupe with significant rust and a trashed interior. The seller wanted $30k!!! You can still get a decent Lotus Elan, which is one of the best handling cars ever made, for under $30k. However, they are even less reliable than MGs, Triumphs or Healeys.

You won’t be able to find a decent old car for $4k. Remember that it is more than 40 years old. A decent one will have been at least partially restored and that is a very expensive process. Mercedes has a shop in California that completely restores old MBs. The price tag for doing a 230SL, 250SL or 280SL is around $70k. Given the amount of skilled hand labor involved, this is not a ripoff.

If $4k is your limit, your best bet is to find a Miata that looks OK and have it checked out by a qualified Mazda mechanic just like any other used car. Miatas have all the virtues of the old English sports cars (especially the Lotus Elan) combined with Japanese reliability and build quality. The second generation cars (without the pop up headlights) are more desirable because they have a bit more power and an improved rear suspension.

Something else you might consider is a Chevy Corvair. It’s actually a better car than most of the English stuff I listed above. The most desirable model is the 1965-69, four carb, 140 hp Corsa. They are not too expensive to buy or maintain. Any mechanic used to working on Chevys should have no difficulty with a Corvair. Parts are readily available via mail order if your local NAPA store doesn’t have what you need. There is an active national Corvair club (www.Corsa.org) which can provide additional support.

The TR5/250/TR6 all had a 2.5L straight six. Far bigger than any factory Miata offering. But yes, the Miata will offer better crash protection.

That’s the reason I didn’t mention it.