REVIEW:// Old School Power: Triumph TR6pi

I'm not a very demanding guy right?
When I need to describe the type of car I like best it has to be the down to earth beefy soundtracked and please not to hip lined roadster with enough luggagespace for a Paris weekendtrip. Performance is secondary. Not too quick - I'm average at the wheel - but just enough for a bit of drama at the trafficlights and some handfull in the twisties . . . Well isn't that my description of decent transportation for years now. Some wind in the face to discourage 100 mph plus speeds. A Tona Spider I would not say no to, but man, you look at me. A TR6 then . . . Plain and simple, big wheels, big sound, luvely cornering and for years the most no-nonsense sport box around. Untill the Griff came along . . . but that's another story.


Since a boy I love all kinds of sounds. With the radio tuned just off AM-stations, volume up to let those sudden pops explode decently, I sat on my desk for hours, learning, reading, drawing, dreaming. I started to expand my aural horizon and explored: the beauty of my neighbours 2CV fireing up, the raw Simca Rally blasting off, the Beetle, the next blocks big red '67 Stang with the hipo V8 . . . From the age of eleven things were getting serious. A day could get completely golden with the bellowing sound of a TR6's straight six passing our Mk2 Escort. And yes, if I ever had to choose about eyes or ears . . .

Triumph TR6/Dink_3923 [large]

Kids from school loved the Raris and Turbo Porkers, but not for me. I now drool over a Dino and an RS but back in the 70s it was all old school stuff for me. And the TR6 fitted in perfectly: it was outdated when it hit the market in '68. Cars were starting to get modern in design, engineering and comfort by then. But not this one. For most it's the last real Triumph. You can argue about that but not about it's sheer succes. In ten years time Triumph made 90.000 TR6s. Most of them were shipped across the Atlantic and it's the dry and sunny Californian climate that kept them healthy. Nice, because we can get 'em all tidy back over here. With a bit of work - remove those ugly rubber safety bumpers and bring back the original 150 horses - they're ready to roll.


Working the engine

After the oil-crisis the musclecars were no more. The big engine's were sadly strangled and moved promising bodies out of performance territory. Once glorious bad 350s now pumped out a mere 175 horses at revs a tad higher than idle. The perfect timing for exciting European wheels to invade the land of the once free. Triumph threw in the TR250 (TR5 with the 2.5 litre straight 6) and TR6. They got equipped with Zenith-Stromberg or SU carbs which dropped the power to 120 or even 105 horses, but met the tight regs. 
A funny thing is that TVR used that US specced TR mill - because it was very good available - and they had a big succes with the 2500M (the S had the 150 hp mill). Think about that when considering a TR6 . . .

Triumph TR6/Dink_3934 [large] 

They came back

So, often US TRs return to homebase Alpha and get a serious work over, especially in the engine departement. There's nuff space for exotic manifold creations on both sides of the slim ohv six. Funny how many overlook the original mechanical Lucas PI (Petrol Injection) as if a scary thought to setup. Without even considering it they bolt on fat Webers within the blink of an eye. But boy, to set those three viscious baskets up in a proper way is a serious jobbie, as is the PI setup. But when that's working you got it all. 

The original '68 TR6 was one of the first mass produced cars to have mechanical fuel injection. The far more exclusive '55 Merc 300SL had it and two years later it was Chevrolet who fitted a system on a 289 CID V8. In the 60s Volkswagen (411), Porsche, Saab and Volvo introduced cars with Bosch's D-Jetronic electronic fuel injection. Lucas was liscenced to produce this system for Jaguar. But back to the mechanical bits, how does it work?

Triumph TR6/Dink_3969 [large]


Lucas PI (Petrol Injection)

 An electric fuelpump leads the high-pressure gas to a distributor: one in and six out. A spinning rotor needly adjusts the amount of mixture for combustion per cilinder. A simple and mechanical device that, once set up, works like a Swiss watch.
To get the same performance with carbs the engine will need a few hours on the rolling road. But still, response will never be that direct. Webers (and all carbs for that matter) have to average, usually over-fueling slightly and running slightly retarded as the fuel/ignition systems are mechanical and need time to respond to your right foot.

If you don't mind fiddling about and ditch the I-want-to-keep-it-all-original feel, why not add on an up-to-date EFi system. Performance and fuel consumption can only get better. With a link to optimized ignition you got all your money's worth. The featured car has the original Lucas Pi and sounded like nothing else.

Text and photo's by Dinkel