Friday, 25 July 2014

The Triumph Stag needs its own adjective

THE OTHER week I mentioned one of my petrolhead pals was threatening to blow five thousand of his carefully earned pounds on a Triumph Stag.

Luckily, he saw sense at the last minute and decided not to; he decided to chuck seven and a half bags of sand at one instead. That’s £7,500 on a 1970s convertible best known – unfairly or not - for its penchant for rotting and munching through head gaskets at the first hint of overheating. To make matters worse, even if you bag a really good one it’ll still struggle – and I’ve seen the fuel bills to prove it – to top 25 to the gallon. 

However, all of this pales into comparision with the really unhinged bit – almost immediately after doing the deal, the mate in question lobbed the keys in my direction and insisted I had a go. I returned half an hour later with an enormous grin on my face – and not even remotely envious! 

The tricky thing with the Stag is that while not being superlative or extraordinary in any one particular field, it covers all the bases with a caddish charm that’s surprisingly hard to pin down in print. It’s so difficult to define what underpins the Stag’s essence that it’s actually easier to associate it with things which have the same delightfully dated and yet somehow cool sense of aspiration. Things which are, in other words, a bit stagulent. 

Roger Moore, for instance, is stagulent, as were his attempts to charm Britt Ekland in The Man With The Golden Gun. Velour jackets and polka dot shirts (especially worn together) are stagulent, as is playing golf. Flying on Concorde was always a bit stagulent, as are Joanna Lumley, Directors Bitter, the whole of Harrogate, and reruns of The Persuaders!. Cars other than the Triumph Stag can be stagulent too; try the Jaguar XJ-S, or today’s BMW 6-Series Convertible and the Jaguar F-type. 

That’s why you’ll either ‘get’ Triumph’s V8-engined, Italian-styled, leatherette-lined cruiser or you won’t. It’s not the fastest, the nimblest, or best-built car you’ll ever drive but the looks, the rumble of the 3.0 litre engine when you shove the automatic gearbox into kickdown and the way it just lollops along effortlessly acts an automotive passport to some parallel world where everything is a bit more stylish, albeit in an irredeemably gaudy sort of way.

In short the Triumph Stag is thirsty, badly-made, not especially fast and looks like it’s escaped from a casino in 1970s Monte Carlo. I love it.

Image courtesy of Classic Car Weekly and Sam Skelton


  1. Beautiful cars are Triumph Stags with a glorious soundtrack from that V8. To sum it all up, a flawed gem.

  2. I also think of the Stag as being a Jag E-Type with sideburns and bell bottomed trousers. Two things which must be a least a little stagulent?

    Sam M.