1971 TR6, Viewed 28/09/14

1971 TR6
Illustrated view of the first TR 6 we viewed.

I found this car on Autotrader. The car was described as a “pristine 1971 TR6 owned by the current owner since 1972” and the asking price was (Cdn) $13,000. It was about an hour’s drive from my place, so Evelyn and I piled into the car on a sunny Sunday morning and headed out to view it. My first sight of it was in the owner’s garage, and I thought “Wow – what luck! My first find  – this is THE ONE.” Sadly, the darkness of the garage hid a plethora of deficiencies.

The body was weak, with the front rockers rusted away from the mounting points, bubbling in the doglegs, and misaligned rockers (under the doors they were inset about 1cm). The engine bay was missing its rad shroud and had been painted with protective paint, but it badly needed detailing. The trunk was rusty and painted in a different colour (white) and had significant surface rust, as well as some holes (which means that the exterior is a repaint – not a surprise as the paint has a slightly “metallic” look which isn’t period). Both bonnet and boot drains were rusted and all visible rubber seals (windshield, doors, boot, bonnet) were badly deteriorated. Very strangely, the door gaps at the top were quite wide (I could stick my finger in), but at the bottom they were very “tight” – made me wonder about the frame…The interior wasn’t too impressive – the wood dash was cracking badly around the glove compartment, the gearshift boot was mashed at the front, the door cards weren’t original and had the owner’s initials sewn into them, and the seats were tired.The odometer didn’t work and the speedometer only worked over 30mph. The engine had been installed only 3000km ago, and was running well, but was also coating its underside with a significant amount of oil. The trailing arms looked good, however…

I’d never driven a TR6 before so this was to be a first… sadly, it wasn’t a positive experience. The steering was very “loose” with a lot of play in the wheel and there was a surprising amount of vibration transmitted through the steering. The first time I hit the brakes I actually thought they had failed because there was so little evidence of retardation of speed (fortunately, I had decided to try them out before a major intersection). The car was surprisingly tiring to drive, made worse by the fact that I am 5’8″ and the owner was about 6’5″, and the seat wouldn’t come forward enough for me – so every stab of the brakes required me to lunge forward and down, like an F1 driver. The clutch was a little tricky with an unpredictable bite point, but the power, once in motion was delivered smoothly, and I had the immediate impression that it wouldn’t be too hard to break the back end loose under acceleration. The sound of the car was quite wonderful, and loud enough that when I got back into my VW Golf and started the engine I thought at first that there must be a problem because I couldn’t hear it!

The parking brake didn’t work and required 1st gear to keep it from rolling, and getting out of the car was complicated by the fact that the interior door handles didn’t really work, requiring one to reach over the door and use the exterior handle. I had hoped that this would be a good experience for Evelyn, but she said that the car had made her feel vulnerable – too low… too small… oh dear. And one of the other cars I want is a Honda S600…! Still, one of the reasons she had been happy to sell the Mercedes was that she considered it “too large”, which somewhat obviates her argument – no?

I talked to the seller later, and he wanted to know my impressions and I was very honest. He agreed with my assertions and admitted that he wasn’t bonkers about selling it anyway, but that his wife had bought a new BMW and she wanted him to sell this as they didn’t need two convertibles. He’s a very nice bloke, but I don’t think that this is the car for me – needs too much work, which in other circumstances I might find invigorating, but with the limitations imposed by my condo and my work… No.

Ratings for this car (from 1 [poor] to 10 [exceptional] )

Value for money: 1
Driving Impression: 3
Body: 4
Interior: 3
Engine: 7
Handling: 5

Evelyn’s impression:

Cool factor: 4
The TR is an attractive looking car when viewed from the exterior. But, once seated in the car, it feels tight, small, and too low to the ground, for my personal preferences. It’s rather intimidating to be on the highways alongside trucks, SUVs or even the modern day sedans when driving the TR6.
Comfort: 2
Price: 1
Likelihood that I’ll join Bruce on a Sunday drive in this: Maybe…if he stayed on country roads.

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