It’s important to have an open mind when you experience cars you’ve appreciated for a long time. The Stag is a car I looked on with a keen eye, as a masculine, powerful and gritty go-machine. It’s not. It’s extremely refined. ‘Refined?’ you’re probably thinking, a slight smirk on the lips. Yes lets be frank, the build quality in 1970s Britain has always left a lot to be desired. Although, there are a few quirks on the Stag that show its colours as a more considered design. The quarter lights are operated by a rotary switch in the door; a pleasant mechanism to operate. The roof folds completely away with a solid vinyl cover that goes on top to complete the rear line of the car. It just feels that bit more expensive than your average roadster or nippy 70’s convertible. This was no extreme luxury car but it has a certain amount of gentlemanly common sense, it would hold the door open for ladies - not the brute I expected. “It is well proportioned and oozes 70's glamour”.This is a car I would happily do many miles in on fast roads, high praise for a 70s Triumph.
Nigel’s list of previously owned cars is peppered with driver’s heroes and timeless classics. From a Vauxhall Viva aged 17 came a few Triumphs (sowing the seed) including a Dolomite 1500. In a fast Ford phase Nigel owned a 2.0 litre Capri, MK3 escort XR3i, and a Sierra XR4X4. Before the stag a couple of MGs got their turn, mainly a Magnette ZB inherited from his uncle who had owned it since the mid 1970s. Having “restored it” with chicken wire and large quantities of filler it got a proper going over for about 18 months, funded by the sale of a Porsche 924S. A long way out of its time and newly restored, it was a bit too nice to actually use and extremely low geared for faster roads “any main road journey would have the engine revving its head off”. Nigel decided he fancied another classic, “I Still had the bug”. The Stag ticks many boxes for practical ownership whilst satisfying the desire for driving pleasure. For Nigel it was the natural choice. “There is something special about a summer's day with the roof down, cruising in the countryside”. This car is in superb condition - it’s garaged and properly cared for. “I intend to keep it as standard as possible, I will probably refurbish the instruments; the hood could do with replacing at some stage.”
Driving it, you don’t want to push it, it’s much happier getting you places with a smooth delivery of power made possible by the 3.0 litre V8 up front. The power steering and automatic gearbox make the car extremely easy to drive, the controls are light to touch whilst the car feels heavy to manoeuvre. The MX5 format we are so used to nowadays is a great example of a cheeky bit of convertible fun, but to really understand the Stag you have to to imagine is not as a convertible but a big comfortable saloon. Classed as a ‘sports tourer’ it isn’t much of a country bumpkin, it feels rude to throw it into the windy bits - there’s a lot of body roll. “It’s better to let the car waft along, as with the auto transmission it’s not really a sports car”. It’s more suited to a long trip across England with the top down - perhaps a distillery tour. The V8 is an incredibly smooth engine, graced with that gorgeous rich exhaust note. There’s a place in heaven for the person responsible for that sound, a deep understated burble with a perfect seasoning of overrun crackle. “It isn’t shouty like a modern V8, it’s more cultured”. I can imagine it sounding good over a strong set of 70s road trip anthems on a hot summer's day.
The Stag is a car that says so much about its time. It’s a car built for a generation who wanted nothing more than to enjoy the rich experience of motoring with comfort and ease - a statement of success and refinement, the gent who enjoys the finer things in life. It shows how Triumph built cars that people really wanted and could actually own. They knew their market and didn’t try to produce anything pretending to be something else. As a modern day contender it keeps pace with fluid easy-available power, a good dose of fresh air and a sensible addition of four seats. It gives ample opportunity for enjoyment but most of all makes classic convertible motoring a family experience. The Stag is best shared, although there’s always the option of a bit of self indulgence at the mercy of your right foot. “It's always a head turner with the burbling V8, the sound track is just lovely. There are always other cars that I look at and wonder whether to change, but as soon as I get back in the car and fire her up, I remember why I have her.”
Words - Tom Aiton // Photography - Tom Duke