With thanks to Anthony Davies for his story about his Stag……
I bought my second Triumph Stag in 1981 to use as my everyday vehicle and drove it daily for most of the next 8 years. Coming from an Engineering background, I tackled nearly all of the maintenance myself and got to know the car inside out. However, from the late 80’s to the mid-00’s, my occupation demanded that I worked away from home quite a lot – sometimes for very lengthy periods – before finally ‘coming home’ in 2005.
During this time the car was kept in reasonable order, living in a garage with essential maintenance performed, fluids topped up, oil and filters changed and so on but it had been gradually getting used less and less to the point of maybe a half dozen times a year, when I would take it out for a good run, get it up to temperature then return to storage for another few months. The thing is, older cars don’t really like this too much and in January 2006, on a sunny Sunday afternoon when out for one such run the inevitable happened and one of the Head gaskets blew.
The aluminium heads were removed but as I hadn’t really being considering the coolant composition too much over the years, the strength of the mixture had been getting weaker and weaker, resulting in severe corrosion which had reduced the internal waterways of the heads to a point where at best, they were well over 50% and at worst, totally blocked, rendering them utterly useless. And so the journey began…..
A reconditioned pair of heads was purchased, however another problem soon surfaced – the cylinder bores were fairly well worn and piston movement was also evident.
This was to become a turning point. Having owned the car for so long and knowing all of its history did I really want to start a full dismantling and refurbishing exercise on the original engine or would I be better to go along the exchange unit route? Electing the latter, I ordered up an exchange engine power unit and then very shortly after, a gearbox, overdrive unit, clutch assembly, diff and all the bits and pieces that go along with these.
Danny with refurbished engine
It was by this time over a year since the car had been laid up and only really starting to move. This is where the local Triumph network kicked in, as one of the members kindly asked around for a mechanic who specialized in Stags and I was given the name of Danny Taylor at Victoria Garage, Maud. In October 2007 Danny had a look at the car and said ‘It needs a fair bit of work done but yes, I can do it!’ And off it went….
Of course, now I had access to a specialist to tackle the mechanics I could think about going the whole hog – did I really want to do that? – well, I’d gone so far now that there really was no going back.
So, the whole car was dismantled and everything was now up for renewal – suspension, chassis legs, brakes, steering rack, bushes, body panels, wings, doors, chrome, electrics etcetera etcetera – it was now into the full resto. Not a job for the faint-hearted..
As I said earlier, I thought that I had kept the car in reasonable condition throughout its life but was horrified at what was found during the restoration. These problems were not always evident – I remember that there were some small bits of corrosion on the bottom of the A-posts each side, which had been there for hmm..a while at least and were always meant to get sorted, the next time the car went in for some bodywork. These and other ‘small bits of corrosion’ were actually rotten all the way through! Holes and weak points in the chassis only surfaced with a good dig into the underseal. All of these nasty bits were inspected, assessed and corrected accordingly either with completely new or repair sections.
I could go on and on about what else was done, what was replaced and so on but won’t; the list is substantial to say the least. All that I will say is that, after 3 and a half years, having had a full refurbishment inside and out, I now have a stunning example of what a Stag should be like, thanks in the main to Danny for his relentless dedication and enthusiasm, Victoria Garage at Maud, the Stag Owners’ Club, various specialist providers of Stag bits, e-Bay for those ‘special items’ including a perfectly matching oil pressure gauge which are like hen’s teeth and re-chroming of all the shiny bits.
Finally, just as the rebuild was nearing completion, I saw a number plate for sale and thought to myself ‘well, you only live once and it would finish it off nicely’…….it does look good…!