This TR6 Sale Is a Triumph for the Hobby

Bring A Trailer/72RedTR6

By the time the new-for-’69 Triumph TR6 arrived in showrooms, it was already an old soul. In an era when many of its contemporaries had made the leap to unibody construction, the TR6’s body-on-frame architecture could trace its DNA back to the TR4 of 1961, and, if you looked hard enough, even further back to the 1953 TR2. In its bid to update the Michelotti-styled TR5, however, and to help disguise (quite literally) its ancient roots, Triumph called on Germany’s Karmann coachworks for an impromptu glow-up.

The result was a visually taller, more upright design, where—outside, at least—only the doors and windshield frame carried over from its predecessor. Underneath, it was business as usual, with the TR5’s chassis, powertrain, and suspension largely unaltered.

Stefan Lombard

Many marque purists abhorred the new look, but the result spoke for itself: Triumph moved nearly 92,000 TR6s through the end of 1976, including 13,702 fuel-injected cars, mostly for the U.K. market, and 78,147 carbureted variants, most of which came to North America. Chassis number CC82276U, our Sale of the Week, was one such TR6 destined for these shores. On March 6, it sold on Bring A Trailer for $23,887, including fees.

There’s a lot to be said for a stellar color combination, and this TR6, finished in Damson over tan, speaks volumes. Now, much like every color in a J. Crew catalog or the paint section of Home Depot, Damson says nothing on its own, because what the heck is Damson? Metallicky maroony strawberryish is one way to put it. “One of the finest reds you will ever see on a sports car” is how one of BAT’s commenters pegged it. However it’s best described, it does look absolutely fetching in the online photos, especially when set off by the rich tan of the interior.

1972 Triumph TR6 seats
Bring A Trailer/72RedTR6

The Damson, the tan, and more were part of a $25,000 refurbishment done in 2011 by Her Majesty’s Auto Service (has there ever been a better name for British shop?) in Rhode Island, a year after the seller bought the car. The work included stripping the TR6 to bare metal, minor rust repair around the lights, then a full repaint. All chrome was redone, and the seats were rebuilt and reupholstered, with new carpets installed and the wooden dash replaced. The torquey, 106-hp 2.5-liter straight-six and its twin Zenith-Stromberg carbs were still in fine fettle at the time and received only new hoses and wires, a tune-up, and fresh fluids.

One of the great attributes of a hybridized selling/social media platform like Bring A Trailer is the input from folks who have made a hobby out of following sales like this one. For starters, the initial listing contained several factual errors about the car: It was dubbed maroon over chestnut, said to be fuel injected, and claimed to have air conditioning and a cassette player. None of these things were true, and all were flagged in the comments by those in the know. To its credit, BAT was quick to react, and within hours the text was updated, with thanks to those who pointed out the inconsistencies.

More importantly, however, was the invaluable input provided by one commenter in particular, “traveler501.” This user was local to the Florida seller and asked to come by to see the car in person. Three days later there appeared in the comments an incredibly forthright assessment purely for the benefit of those bidding.

“The owner isn’t a ‘car guy’ and to some extent doesn’t know what he’s got,” they wrote. “I was surprised to find that the owner has a 6-inch stack of receipts showing a remarkable amount of work done, not just body and interior, but going over all the mechanical stuff thoughtfully and just tidying up what was needed, leaving the rest original.

“Driving the car was also a nice surprise. It sounds good, rides well, front end is tight, it shifts and downshifts readily.… I have had both low- and high-mileage TR6s in the past and this honestly feels like a well-cared-for 80K-mile car. Btw, when driving it, the temperature gauge went to exactly center dial and stayed there, and the oil pressure, fully warmed up, was 70 or slightly higher psi at 2000 rpm, 50 psi at idle.”

If you are not a car person but are selling a car person’s car to car people, those are precisely the kinds of important details you probably won’t know to mention.

1972 Triumph TR6 badge close up
Bring A Trailer/72RedTR6

The TR6 is not perfect, of course. As noted in the listing, the odometer is stuck on 79,000 miles, which the seller reckons happened about 300 miles ago. Perhaps more concerning to interested parties is some bubbling beneath the paint on the hood. Given its Florida locale, it would be easy to assume that salt air has begun to rear its ugly head, which might cause nervous, faraway bidders to think twice. Au contraire! says our helpful friend on the ground. “It’s not rust. My best guess is that there were some tiny droplets of contamination in the air that were absorbed into the primer on just the hood (perhaps it was painted off the car?). They caused the paint to raise in tiny blisters … maybe .1 inch in diameter and .050 inches high. They’re scattered here and there on the hood, easy to miss visually if you’re not looking for them, and stable (haven’t changed in 13 years)….”

Again, it’s hard to put a price on this kind of unbiased scrutiny, and few cars that cross the online auction blocks of the world are subjected to it. Other commenters, and the seller, were grateful for added information.

1972 Triumph TR6 head on
Bring A Trailer/72RedTR6

In the old-car hobby, we often talk about “finding your tribe,” that group of like-minded souls who share a passion for a given marque or model and are always willing to bend over backwards to help a fellow member. Thanks to the efforts of one person—who wasn’t bidding and seemed not to have any skin in the game—that’s exactly what went down in the days leading up to this car’s sale.

In the end, this lovely TR6 sold to an excited buyer in San Diego, its result smack-dab in between our #2 (Excellent) and #3 (Good) values, which is exactly where it belonged. It is a great car—and a great deal of car for the money, given that all the expensive stuff is done. The new owner should be in store for many years of trouble-free driving adventures.

Well sold, well bought, and a great reminder that kind-hearted enthusiasts are everywhere, always willing to lend a hand, just because they can.

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    Well bought, yes. I like TR6s, so don’t get me wrong, but though it’s a little bit hard to estimate (on the current info), I’d say the previous owner was out of pocket about $ 15-20K in the end. Not a “car guy” indeed.

    I hope the new owner enjoys what they got. Something about the wrong info in the ad makes me wonder.

    Hate to be the party pooper here, but the pictures show the right side to be very rippled – look at the highlights on the door – and the hood to be misaligned. Not what I would be happy with after a bare metal restoration. I had a TR6 many years ago and had the same problems, but that one was a cheap old car that had been hit….

    I don’t see either of those problems. The second photo in this article shows a reflection of the house across the street and the photographer in the middle of the door. The first photo shows a nice clean door there. I can’t see any misalignment of the hood. What I do see is that the hood seems to be a slightly different color than the body of the car.

    I see wrinkles about 3 or 4 inches down from the belt line on the right door in the first picture of the 3/4 view. When you see some other small ripples further back. The full on side view you can see the wrinkles on the fender and door about 3 or 4 inches down. The close up of the hood shows the slightly raised dimples and also a small dent. maybe some small chips. The endine comparmemnt inner fenders do not look like they were repainted. Certainly faded and dirty.

    I completely agree with your observation. I have a lot of experience from years back as a detailer. The first thing I saw as I opened this article was the wavy paint on the sides. After I could see the bad paint on the hood. Even a small dent. Looks like the body man cut corners on the prep big time. This is definitely a ‘walk away and keep looking’ car. Especially at the price. TRs are very common and there are more bad paint jobs than good. This car is pure sadness. It was likely pretty rust free being from Florida but is now at possible risk due to the bad paint. All that it has going for it is maybe a lack of filler under the paint. I discovered a small family run business here in British Columbia. They are Drakes British Motors in Kelowna BC. This is possibly the most honest British sports car sellers I’ve ever seen. They only sell desirable British sports. They only procure cars worth restoring or that are very nice. They restore many and sell some in restorable condition. They are straight up on every detail. Best of all I find their prices to be more than fair. If I was ever in the market again for a TR or MG I would only shop there. No I don’t no these folks nor do I currently own a sports car but this shop really impressed me.

    Nice of ‘ traveler501 ‘ to do the recon and file a report. How many times have all of us wasted a Saturday to see an advertised as good condition car only to find out that what we thought was a parts car IS the car; or hear something like – ‘ It runs really good just needs a new starter. ‘. -‘Uh huh’. – thanks for thinking I was born stupid. This TR-6 sure looks nice to me, then again when someone says British sportscar they’re the first thing that comes to mind so…

    Hmmm…Let’s do the math. $25,000 in receipts for the “restoration”, (not counting the original purchase price of the car, btw) and a final sales price of….$23,887.???
    This is a “triumph” for the hobby?????
    Sounds more like a realistic assessment of the “hobby” in general right now.
    Spend a lot of money, and get less money back.
    Even BaT has gone from a sell through rate of 80% last year to a 65% sell through (or “RNM”) this year.
    Most of us can see the “bubble” has burst…
    The only good thing (for buyers) is that the cars will still keep coming, but asking prices are still going down.

    To be fair, anyone trying to make restoring and playing with classic cars a zero-sum or profitable hobby is either extremely optimistic or really bad at accounting. Often times both.

    If you want to invest, go put money in the stock market. If you want to play with cars, play with cars. Crossing the two only creates frustration for 90% of people who try. Very few hobbies are profitable in any capacity. Once profit comes into play it often becomes a job. Nothing wrong with that, but a job is not a hobby.

    You’re ignoring the pleasure of owning and driving this car that the former owner got for his money.

    Exactly this. Unless you’re buying a car as an investment then spending approximately $2k to own a car like this over several years is money well spent.

    If you ARE buying a car as an investment then I can’t help you. That’s a different thing entirely and subject to the whims of the marketplace as well as dumb luck. I find it hard to feel sorry for people who buy up cars I love, drive the price up to crazy money, then lose their shirt. I hope the British roadsters continue to go up in value, but at a modest pace that matches the economy rather than skyrocket like vintage Porsches did.

    If you are concerned about money, cars are not where you should be looking. My wife paid $5,000 for her showroom fresh TR6 in 1975. For then next 30 years we paid normal maintenance costs for tires, fluids, clutches, brakes, light bulbs and such – no major expenditures. In 2006 I had a wild hair and decided the car needed to be ‘refreshed’. That led to buckets of bolts, boxes of pieces and parts and a bare frame in my shop. So I got a little carried away. In 2009 when it went back on the road I had spent right at $30,000 in body panels, paint, various pieces and parts, and a couple of sublet repairs. I had about 800 hours of my own time in it. Aside from oil changes, plugs and points I have not touched it since.

    She took it to our regional car show (400+ cars) last fall and was swamped with folks asking about the car. Bottom line is that we have had the car for 49 years, with the rebuild and normal maintenance costs we have about $55 – 60K in the car. Well over any potential sales value. The thought you raise that is was not worth it flies out the window when I see the smile on her face as puts the top down, starts the engine, grabs the gearshift, eases off the clutch and heads down the road. There are things that money cannot buy.

    The Damson is a subspecies of plums. It is of a purplish hue when ripe but it may be that when they are used to make jelly that said jelly is some shade of red.

    I had a ’69 TR6 with perhaps the same color combination, although mine seemed a bit more maroon/burgundy. Not sure those seats are original. Mine had much larger headrests that folded down when you wanted to put on a tonneau. It was a really enjoyable car, although hardly a worthy competitor to the Datsun 240Z of the same year.

    The TR6 had several seat types. The ’69, up to commission # CC50000 was unique with the folding headrest. Will not bore you with the other variations.

    There are a couple of noticeable things about this car… A 1969 TR6 should not have union jack decals, but instead the block type ‘TR 6″ decals. The ‘damson’ paint also looks to be significantly more ‘carmine red’ — as evidenced by comparing new and old paint in the photo of the engine compartment. Also, the spoiler is from a later-year car. I guess they don’t have to be perfect to be enjoyed, though.

    I used to be a BaT commenter but about a month ago I commented on an A-H saying how I thought it the most beautiful thing ever but was going to change that when I spoke to my wife. They censored my comment for whatever reason. I have 50 years of tinkering and restoring British cars and had many positives on my comments on BaT but no more. For the life of me I can’t figure out why the comment was deleted (oh, it had a couple thumbs up before it was removed).

    The Triumph for the hobby was the selfless individual who went to look at the car and reported back and the commentators who corrected the copy. The article was not about making a profit for the seller it was about community

    I purchased a 1974 Tr6 a couple of years ago for 14k in the exact colors ! I thought I was looking at my Car.
    It has the regular Brit car foibles that I’m processing steadly. I removed the ugly front bumper guards, replaced the wiper motor, installed an aluminum radiator with electric fan, cut operating temperature in half, brake booster, and slotted rotors. The most rewarding part of the investment is the top down convertible sound ! It was in the 70s last week and I took it out of storage and had three days of FUN ! in the Virginia sun ! Unfortunately the temperature has gone down again but we are looking forward to enjoying our investment and correcting foibles as we GO ! It’s not about the FUNDS it’s all about the FUN !!!

    Loved the article on the TR-6. However, this car color is not “Damson”, its Carmine Red. I know, I have one. Damson was a purblish color! HaHa.

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