A funny thing happened on the way to this story. Originally, we were going to treat the Triumph Stag's legacy as just another flawed British car with limited collector appeal in the U.S. -- and low asking prices to match. Then we checked some value guides and found not only unusual unanimity of opinion, but prices that aren't so cheap. Would you believe $10,000 or more for a top-nick original?
This 1972 Triumph Stag is one of only 2,871, from
the car's entire seven-year run, built for the U.S. market.
See more pictures of Triumphs.
The things are even dearer in Britain, where, as Mick Walsh observed in the October 2003 issue of Classic & Sports Car magazine, "[T]he Stag boasts the largest one-model owners' club in the UK and the reputation as 'the most stolen classic car.' " Word there is that a good Stag can fetch up to 15,000 quid -- about $24,000 in our money -- but then we all know how the English love the products of their native motor industry, weird and wonderful alike.
In any case, we were surprised by this market strength. After all, as a new car, the Stag was rather costly -- initially $5,525 in the U.S. -- yet was indifferently built and far from a neck-snapper dynamically or visually. This explains the two rather unflattering sobriquets it has acquired over the years: "Triumph's Edsel" and "Snag." So why the semi-lofty values now? Low production, for a start: just 25,877 in all, of which 6,780 were earmarked for export. Of those, a mere 2,871 were built for U.S. sale, which began in July 1972 and ended barely 24 months later.
Then too, there's nothing else quite like a Stag. Though it's been likened to a half-price Mercedes SL with a back seat, only Austin Powers would think it truly "shagadelic." Sporty, yes, but no TR. Not that this Triumph was meant to be a true sports car. It was, rather, conceived as a posh "gentleman's tourer," a sort of British Thunderbird. The Stag even had a V-8, one of the few born and bred in the postwar UK.
Another collectibility factor is the Stag's literal uniqueness. Though it began as a convertible version of Triumph's large 2000 sedan series of the Sixties and Seventies, the Stag ended up sharing few parts with any other Triumph -- or anything else in the sprawling British Leyland (BL) stable. Considering that the 1968 wedding of Leyland-Rover-Triumph and British Motor Corporation ranks as the auto industry's all-time merger from hell (at least before DaimlerChrysler, maybe), it's remarkable the Stag made it to production at all.
For more picture-packed articles about great cars, see: