My Stag History – A Proper Bird Puller!!

I bought my 1972 Triumph Stag in April 1983; the first MoT I obtained in July 83’ shows a genuine 32,370 miles. I bought it from a work colleague who in turn had bought the car about two years earlier as an investment, only to find that the Stag was fast becoming unloved by the public. He used it for around six months and then garaged it until finally coming to the conclusion that it must be moved on. I took it for a long test drive noting that the engine was rattling, the hood torn and faded, the exhausts rusted through and then…. ran out of petrol! However, it was a car I had loved from the day I saw Tony Soper driving one through the Scottish Highlands on one of his TV wildlife programs of the early seventies. Seeing one in the flesh and hearing the wonderfully laid back V8 burble only reinforced my desire to own one and so none of this put me off the purchase; my mind had been made up years ago.

I replaced the timing chains, exhaust (the stainless steel replacement is still on the car) and hood (subsequently writing up the hood replacement in 1985, for issue 66 of the SOC magazine) and had the paint refreshed by a local spray shop in Belper, Derbyshire. I also stripped off all the underseal and repainted the underside and wheel arch recesses with bitumen type paint, followed by waxoyl. Six months later I had the automatic box rebuilt by a Borg Warner specialist after the clutch plates started slipping. For the next two years the car ran very well, but I had noticed that the oil pressure was low, almost non-existent on tick over. In 1986 I had the luxury of a Nissen hut for a garage and so I removed the engine and rebuilt the bottom end, replacing the crankshaft with a Tuftrided version. After this the car ran until 2000 when, at 104,000 miles and over a two year period, I carried out a top end rebuild as one of the heads started to blow and so it was an ideal time to have hardened valve seats inserted in order to run on unleaded fuel. I also had the automatic gearbox rebuilt again, as it was always leaking fluid. In 2004/5 I had a back to bare metal re-spray after overhearing a conversation between two motorcyclists waiting behind me at a set of traffic lights in Bath. “Great car” one said to the other. “Yes, but s*** paintwork” replied his mate! Having attended to the exterior, I turned to the interior and re-veneered the instrument panels with burr walnut (recycled from my neighbour’s wardrobe doors) and fitted new wool carpets. The original front seats were replaced with black leather SAAB 93 seats, matching perfectly with the dash and centre consol which I had re-covered in black leather.

I also treated myself to a set of Minilite replica wheels taking the wheels up to 15inch diameter. Having run without a hood since 1996, I finally had the hood frame shot blasted and powder coated before re-assembling (with thanks to Colin Brookes for letting me use his car as a reference) and fitting a new mohair hood in 2014. The next major job will be to rebuild the hardtop which is badly rusted.

Between 1983 and 2000, I ran the car almost as a daily driver. However, winter would generally tend to see less frequent use and, after 1994 I began to use the car only at weekends and in fine weather, so annual mileage dropped to between 2k to 3k. Since the re-spray I have been very protective of the car and annual mileage is down to between 200 and 1000 miles. Over what is approaching thirty two years of ownership I have amassed many wonderful memories of spirited driving throughout the West Country and the Midlands. The photograph below was taken around 1987 and shows a nephew and niece in the car at Burrator Reservoir, S.Devon. In June 2014 we re-created this photograph showing the four of us in our current guise; I am the only one who seems to look worse for the passing years!

Throughout its time with me, the car has been a genuine ‘bird puller’, often used to transport my birds of prey. As from the late 90s onwards saw the car used without a hood or roof, the birds were on open display, either on a perch bolted in place of the front passenger seat, or on a cadge secured in the rear seat well. One of my peregrines used to particularly enjoy the ride; perched on the cadge in the rear, as I increased my speed she would stretch out her wings and, without any wing beats, ride the air currents. However, after several years I decided I should stop this after the driver and passenger of a car travelling alongside us on a busy dual carriageway were so distracted by the sight of the peregrine that they collided with the car in front.

The Stag is very popular with my nephew and nieces and has been used as transport to a school prom’ and a wedding car. Providing the weather is good, it is ideal as the couple can sit on the hood stowage cover and hold on to the ‘T’ bar as I drive the last few hundred meters.

I don’t visualise selling the car and with luck I might still be around in twenty seven years time and we can then recreate these photographs, however, I will probably be the passenger rather than the driver.

Thanks to Donald Peach for his story and wonderful pictures in this article.

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Down the Pub with Fuzz

On Drive-it-Day this year I was told about a forthcoming Pub-Meet to be held at the Ten Tors Inn, Kingsteignton, Devon and hosted by non other than Fuzz Townshend of Car SOS fame. I subsequently registered my interest and received regular emails about the event, which was sponsored by Carole Nash insurance.

The evening of the event was fine and dry, so I left home in plenty of time to ensure that I got a parking space as it was sure to be a popular event and the pub car park wasn’t the largest! As it happened, mine was the second car to arrive. Already in the car park was a very rare Japanese car; a Mitsuoka Le-Seyde, the long white car visible in one of the photos. Fuzz wasted little time in walking over and introducing himself, and then spent ages poring over my Stag.

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He was particularly interested in my home-engineered ZF conversion, having converted a manual Stag to BW35 on one of their shows. Fuzz himself was an exceptionally approachable and friendly person. You hear so many tales of TV personalities who are rather pretentious, but he was extremely down-to-earth and seemed genuinely interested in all the cars that turned up. Mine was the only Stag, and there were a handful of other Triumphs among many ‘modern classics’, Rat Rods, VW vans/buses and Yanks. Devon Area Deputy Co-ordinator Sue, and hubby John, turned up in their MX5 as they were on their way home from a trip to the Big City (Exeter!).

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These Pub-Meets take place all over the country, and if you hear of one in your area, why not turn up? Not only is there Fuzz Townshend, a free raffle, a BBQ, and a great selection of cars, but the first drink is free!

Thanks to David Taylor for his article

Grampian Stag Gathering

Grampian Triumph Clubs gathered on a mid-July weekend to venture west from Aberdeenshire to Fort Augustus. Being mid-July we were all looking forward to some top down driving… no such luck!

Ten cars (20 brave souls) had committed to the weekend and duly arrived at Balmakewan for bacon butties and coffee to prepare ourselves for the day ahead. We set off toward Brechin and Kirriemuir then cross-country to Dunkeld and Aberfeldy – you may have seen the Alyth flash floods on the news – we passed within one mile of there…

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Luckily we all made it through but one puddle was particularly deep and a couple of hundred metres long. A video taken of our Stag braving the floods shows a trail of bubbles as the exhaust is almost submerged and the V8 burble becomes a muffled watery gurgle!

Click Here to watch the video (link will take you to YouTube)

From Dunkeld we headed for the Highland Chocolatier at Grandtully to recover from a very wet drive… after delicious lunches we took advantage of a break in the weather to have a quick tour of the nearby Cluny Gardens. A very informative guided tour of this hillside Himalayan garden was enjoyed by all, along with some close encounters with red squirrels.

As leaders of the pack Simon and I decided it was time to go topless! No-one followed our lead although they did join us for a fabulous (or tortuous depending on your point of view) single track route from Weem to Loch Tummel to Trinafour joining the A9 at Edendon Bridge. A brief interruption came from a non too bright young deer who took several minutes to figure out a way through the fence to the left of us – when there was no fence to the right! He did however provide an opportunity for a couple of SHB trucks to overtake – narrowly avoiding disaster for the Stag to be.

The group was scattered as we sped up the A9 and after a brief regroup stop at Dalwhinnie Distillery four of us set off for our final destination for the day… We were all reunited in time for tea at The Lock Inn – a traditional pub on the Caledonian Canal. A fun evening was had comparing notes on our choice of routes and sampling the local refreshments.

Saturday dawned and we peered out of the window to see that the rain continued to fall. Undaunted we set off after breakfast to drive down to Kinlochhourn – another stunning single track route – 23 miles to a sea loch. We like to think that the cloud and rain added to the drama of the landscape!

Some miles in we met some highland cows – most photogenic! Unfortunately they were not camera-shy and gathered in numbers effectively blocking the progression of half our group. Some time later the lead group noticed we were lacking in numbers and waited a good 15 minutes before the rest caught up telling tales of cattle herding.

A section of the road was submerged to the halfway point with the water level rising fast as water poured from the hills – a brief thought as to whether the road was going to be underwater when we headed back was quickly dismissed in favour of making the most of the scenery to come.

All this drama meant we once again required sustenance and so gathered at the Kinlochhourn Café – a remote cottage at the end of the road – we crammed ourselves into the communal area and enjoyed smoked salmon sandwiches and cake by the heat of a glowing fire.

The weather lifted for the journey back – thankfully the potential flood had receded by the time we passed – surprisingly the water level in Loch Quoich was down by ten metres or more – one of the group suggesting this was because it was tidal…

We left in dribs and drabs to amuse ourselves for a few hours – some headed for Fort William – others back to base to explore Fort Augustus. We regrouped for a boat trip on Loch Ness – informative and fun – particularly waving to those that did not quite make it to the boat in time!

Dinner that night was in a restaurant with stunning views up Loch Ness (or was it Loch Linnhe?) Then a 10 minute stroll back to The Lock Inn for night caps and chat.

Sunday morning came and we bravely went topless all round. We set off along the B862/B851 stopping to enjoy the Suidhe viewpoint then taking a right turn on another single track road to Strathdearn. After a couple of miles we came across a closed gate – thankfully not locked so we carried on following the road up and over the hill to the river Findhorn and back once more to the A9.

On top of the hill we were watched over by a Red Kite – a stunning bird enjoyed on a dramatic road.

We followed the route from Tomatin to Carrbridge to Grantown on Spey then up the A95 to Ballindalloch and across to Glenlivet. Being slightly ahead of schedule for the first time this weekend we dropped in to The Glenlivet Distillery for a comfort break.

A few more miles and we enjoyed our final meal of the weekend at The Croft Inn at Shenval – satisfaction all round.

From here we went our separate ways (still topless) back home with some great memories of another fun weekend!

Roll on next year…

Thanks to Dawn Short for her article and fab video!

Higham Ferrers Chichele Northants Classic Car Show

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What a glorious sunny Sunday we had today for the Rotary Club of Rushden Chichele Northants Classic Cars Show in Higham Ferrers. Its the first Sunday in quite a few weeks we have had a full day of great weather and it brought out the crowds!!

This years Classic Car Show was held to raise funds for Rotary Charities. There was a full turn out of Classic vehicles (generally pre 1990) on display to the general public at the towns Castle Fields.

We had a full stand of 7 Stags

Its quite a small show but very well organised with some lovely stalls to suit all tastes from hand made greeting cards, old toy cars and books, to car accessories (including classic car oils!!)

There were also plenty of stalls if you were a little peckish from the expected burger and chips to a very nice hog roast, with ice cream or cup cakes to finish you off!!

The stars of the show were the cars, wonderfully presented and such a wide array of classics some quite unusual to see out at an event like this.

My favourites of they day were these

Lovely MG V8 and rare to see Aston Martin DB5 (James Bond was not in need of it today!!)

And where ever you have classic cars you can always get some bonnet up action!!

IMG_0226And last but not least, a lovely XJS (with an admiring Stag owner – one day I would like one of these, perhaps put it on my Christmas List!!)

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