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Triumph TR6 - Relative Merits of the MGB vs. the TR4-6

I guess one good thing to come out from the recent "trolling" of the board was a bit of MGB vs. TR6 discussions. In light of that, how many out there on this board had had both an MGB and a TR4 through 6? I have had multiple MGBs and TRs over the years. As much as it may dismay the TR faithful on this board, my member password here would make sense to the MOWOG crowd, but be lost on those that had only been around Triumphs. So here goes my take on the cars. For those who have had both, what was your take on the different cars?

Interior: MGB is much better laid out, roomier and comfortable. Good shoulder room in the B, jammed against the door in the TR4-6. The wood dash in the TR is nice, but I like the black wrinkle finish of the early Bs and the later padded dash was OK in the B. TRs had better carpet, especially the ones with the Wilton Wool, nice stuff. The B is definitely easier from an ingress/egress standpoint. There is just no graceful to get in and out of a TR when wearing one's kilt, it is free show to the world. They will know if you are regimental or not. Definite edge to the B.

Exterior: The B stayed pretty much the same except for grilles and bumpers. The rubber bumper Bs are just ungainly looking to my mind, the chrome bumper cars rather graceful. The TRs have a more brutish look. In many ways I prefer the styling cues of the TR4, 4A and 250/5. They have more modern creature comforts than the low door TRs and MGAs, but still have a more classic/vintage sports car look. As friend said one time when looking at a TR250 "This is what I think of when I hear the words sports car." On the other hand, the TR6 has a nice, well chiseled look, especially when fitted with the hardtop. Best of all, they never fully succumbed to the battering ram bumper styles of the mid seventies. More or less a wash for the chrome bumper Bs and these TRs. They all appeal to me, just different.

Drivetrain: For the four cylinder TRs, I have to hand the power to them and the fact that all TR4/4As have an all syncro transmission was a real plus over the non-syncro first in the pre-68 Bs. I had a 64 and 67 B and can tell you they were absolutely no fun in heavy stop and go traffic with no syncro on first. While the B may have been down some on power, it seemed to be a smoother running engine. The six cylinders changed all of that. Out of the box, they had about same power (in US trim) as the TR4A, but much smoother. Defintely prefer than inline six over the four cylinder cars.

Driving and Feel: The B has rather light controls and is very stiff for a 60s era roadster thanks to the unibody construction. A chrome bumper car could be tossed around with abandon and you would just about never get into trouble. Very easy to drive quickly. Better not to say anything about the rubber bumper cars, they just felt too tippy to me. All of the TRs have a heavy feel to the controls. I found that I could hustle around in the TRs too, but had work much harder at it. I guess it depends on what I was doing. I really think that I just might prefer to autocross a B, but would rather drive a TR on the road. Despite this statement, sitting in the shop is a future vintage racer project TR250.

Bottom line to me is that there is no need to denigrate one or the other. I have had lots and lots of fun with both over the years and if I hadn't found myself a nice TR6 when I got out of school, I would probably be over on the MG board talking about my B.
J. S. Pike

Well said. I can appreciate them both. There's no denying the MGB engineers created great interior space out of that little car. I have a few drinks in me and after reading two posts can't tell if I'm the "troll" or not. I haven't ever driven a TR daily, but I have owned two Rubber Bumper Bs. Even in the MGB crowd, the rubber bumper gets a bad rap, but it was a smoother quiter engine and nicer ride than the chrome bumpers. The chrome bumpers have a more classic look and some of them had more horsepower. But in the end they are all four cylinders and I'll take comfort over the perceived power which is negligable in my mind. I'm still a sucker for chrome though and I'll admit rubber doesn't do anything for me. But you can always retrofit a rubber to chrome. Which opens a whole other door to the topic of originality. I wouldn't turn a chrome bumper away that's for sure. Just never found the right one at the right time. After driving rubber bumpers the chrome bumpers I ride in feel rough.

Anyway, I have an infatuation with TR6s even being from an MG background to this point. I was trying to follow one in my truck one night so I could admire it and he kept getting away from me. Wow! I wasn't aware there was a six cylinder under there at that time. I like the look of the TR6 because of the strong angles and skinny body. Knowing there's a big engine under the hood does something for it too. I also like the classic look that the TR3 and MGA share. Something about the curve drop rears that definitely rings of another more classic era of styling. Some people have to dig deep to see the sex appeal of the MGB body style. It has to grow on you like the favorite record you didn't like the first time you heard it.

I already posted these pictures in another thread, but I'll be picking peoples brains here after my latest purchase. I was interested in TR6s but just couldn't walk away from this 1970 GT6+. The body is a total rust bucket, but I think I have lots of breathing room for a restoration. Mainly, the fact that it is body on frame and not unibody gives me hope that I can ressurrect it without fear of structural integrity. I'll have to replace some body panels but then she gets a paint job. Then a nice interior. I haven't spent much time here and I wonder what TR6 owners think about the GT6? I would be hanging out on the GT6 board, but it is dead.

http://users3.ev1.net/~eldave/06290004.jpg

http://users3.ev1.net/~eldave/06290006.jpg

TxDave

Owning both a '73 'B' and a 74 TR6, I think of these questions a lot. The B is definately'easier' to drive, and more relaxing, yet each time I get in the TR, I go," Yeh, this is a CAR".My B friends swear the TR is bigger inside but I know it's not, width wise, yet there's more usable space behind the seats.( I am going to add armrests on the doors of TeResa as I miss them after the B) I definately prefer the gearshift of the B, AND the handling of the TR. These are such entirely different animals that they are hard to compare, just different, but both represent a time when the driver was expected to participate in the experience.Powerwise, there is no comparison, and never was, the TR's have always been masculine and gutsy. Please excuse TeResa her name, it's just what came to me. Peter
Peter Gooch

I had a '71 MGB when in college that was GREAT. About 98% reliable, it had overdrive, and was just plain fun to drive. I had it 7-8 years as a daily driver before selling it.

About 4 years later I wanted another one, and went to a small shop that had 2 parked outside. Yeah, they could sell me one of the MGB's but had I ever driven a TR6? I left with the TR6. It's a more masculine car when it comes to looks, power, and drivability.

And I'll swear, at least every other time I'm out someone will make it a point to tell me what a sharp looking car it is. Hell, I even had a woman shouting how much she "loved" it across 2 lanes of traffic at 2 traffic lights about a month ago.
Brent B

TxDave, no you were not the troll. As for the GT6, I like the GT6 and would have probably bought one if I had found one I liked a while back. You will find that he engine will spool up a bit better than that in the TR6 due to the shorter stroke. There are definitely times that I wonder if stroking that engine to get to the 2.5L displacement was a good thing or not.

I have run across a site out of the San Diego area that is more active for the Spitfire and GT6. I'll try to chase it down and PM the URL to you.
SteveP

as I posted earlier (but in the wrong thread)


MGB is a chick car or a car for pansie's. A less than a real man does not have the strength to push the clutch, shift the gears or turn the steering wheel in a parallel parking manouver in a TR.

I'll agree that a chrome bumper B is a pretty car but there are too many other parts that do not make it a real sports car starting with:

*weazy 1.8L 4 cyl
*leaf spring rear suspension (didn't a Dodge Dart have the same type)
*cheap crinkle plastic dash
* tiny wheels
*0-60 time over 15 sec
* what about those rubber bumpers???


I will also quote from the book 'The Ultimate Classic Car Book' by Quetin Willson. On the MGB:
"...in pursuit of modernity and safety regulations the factory burdened the B with ungainly rubber bumpers, a higher ride height and garish striped nylon seats, making the car slow, ugly and unpredictable at the limit. Your mother would have wholeheartedly approved of the MGB's reliability, practicality and good sense."

On the TR6: "Criply styled with chisel chin good looks and carrying over the 2.5 L six cylinder engine of the TR5...this was as hairy chested as the TR got and a handful too, like the big Healeys, its power outstripped its poise. But that just made it more fun to drive


Steven

Yeah - I hated the crack that developed down the middle of the vinyl dash in my old '71 MGB. But hey - don't be too tough on MGB owners. After all, they own a LBC and are part of the club!
Brent B

Gosh, some pretty vitriolic words on the B there Steven, I can only conclude that you haven't spent any real time with a B or have been taking lessons from mr mr perhaps. If you spent any amount of time with a B, especially if it was a early chrome bumper car, you would not have said those things. I have spent years with both Bs and high door TRs. I haven't had an MG in many years now and never had one of the rubber bumpered, raised ones (1974 1/2 on), but remember what mine were like and how we used to set them up. These days it is pretty much an all Triumph affair with three boxy TRs and a Spitfire.

The Bs with the 18G, 18GA, 18GB, 18GD and 18GG engines were all reasonably quick. These cars had 98 horsepower droppng slightly on the 18GD and 18GG engines to about 95. To put that in perspective, the NA market TR4-6 stayed in about the 105 range for that entire time. Considering the B's weight advantage over the TR6, not a really bad trade off. Power dropped off considerably with the introduction of the 18V (1972)engines (lower compression) which coincided with less agressive advance curves and more bodged on emission equipment. Power for the B then went through the floor as they went to single carb, and more cludged on bits to where I think they were making something like 62 HP for the NA market by the end of the production run. From a perspective standpoint, I seem to recall the Spitfires of that same year showing 57 HP, of course the TR6 had long been discontinued by then.

Let's think about that leaf spring rear suspension, I seem to recall the TR4 and (at least in the US) the TR4A had those as standard equipment, IRS was an option here. Does that make each of those solid axle TR4 and TR4As a POS just because they had leaf springs? Regarding the dash, all pre 68 b's had a black crinkle finished metal dash. The plastic dashes were added to the NA market cars beginning in 1968, never really liked those as much, HM and ROW continued for several more years with the black crinkled dash before going plastic. Tiny wheels, well considering the time, they were actually a rather normal size. Width wise, they were in line with those fitted to the TR4, 4A, 5 and 250. You did pick up some extra width on the B with the wire wheels and I managed to snag a set of the factory optional 6" wide wire wheels, nice bits those wheels. That 0 to 60 time is for the later cars, earlier cars were quicker. Any of mine were quicker still, I just couldn't leave them alone. I ran the gamut from the HS6 and 45 DCOE set ups, LCB headers, different cams (loved the fact that you could change a cam without pulling the head on a BMC engine), head work, different springs, anti-roll bars, dampers, essentially much of the same types of stuff I play with on the TRs except brakes. I never fiddled with the brakes on the Bs like I have on the TRs.

Now lets go back to that rear suspension on the IRS TRs. What an mess, nasty toe changes as the suspension travels while cornering and bad tendendcy for excessive camber change. I'm sorry, but just because the rear suspension is independent doesn't mean that it is any better. The semi-trailing arm can be charitibly thought of as a compromise at best. Triumph really didn't gain much with the semi-trailing arm over a solid axle. If they were going to do it right, it would be a double arm unit such as that found on the IRS Jaguars of the era. The inboard brakes like the Jaguars would have been a trick touch, but having worked on them, can assure you that they are a pain somewhat removed from the neck. One of the discussions we have been having among ourselves on the TR250 vintage racer project is converting it to a solid axle. Still up in the air on that one. I figure if we can make a RHD 914, making a solid axle TR250 will be cake. Decisions, decisions...

The light controls of the B make it an easy car to drive quickly. When I was running a TR6 in SCCA Solo II DSP (since reclassified to FSP), one of my close competitors had an early 5 main B. We traded cars for a few runs at one event. My times were pretty close in either car, but that B was so much easier to make those times in, the TR6 was a handful, much more difficult to drive fast. That was the root of my statement in the opening post here, in a competition situation you want to win and if light controls and stiff structure are a help they are good things. Yes, I could hustle that TR6 around just as quickly, but it was a lot harder. There is no point in heavy controls just for the sake of heavy controls, and as for the structural stiffness, let's just say that the B did not have the paint chips at the top of the rear door opening from flex that the TR6 developed during the time it was being used for Solo II competition. Hardtops help greatly with the flex on the TR6, so the TR250 will be run with surrey top and solid center panel. The higher level of effort required is actually one of my concerns with the TR250 vintage racer project. I know what racing a B is like, I don't know about the TR. The saving grace is that your typical road course gives some time for relaxation compared to autocross runs. By the way, Spits make pretty good autocrossers. A new guy with Spit moved down to the Texas Region after I moved to a different car and class. It became the car to beat in that class in the region for several years.

As for the chick car, pansy ass sorts of comments, I have known and continue to know several B drivers. When I think of them, the word pansy or sissy or girly man don't come readily to my mind as an accurate descpriptor. There is one that is a self proclaimed poofter, but then he gets his cheap thrills by beating the living crap out of anyone that tries to give him a hard time because of it, to each his own I guess. From your statement, I guess you're telling Texas Dave that he must be pansy too, since his GT6 is Herald/Vitesse based? Try telling that face to face to the wrong B owner and you just might find yourself with a worm's eye view of the world.
SteveP

I have spent time driving a B. There are some things that I do like about the car such as a wider interior, better seats and lighter controls. The car also seems very tight and free of rattles that Triumphs are known for. The B I've been driving has been of 76 vintage and although the engine and car is in impecable shape, the engine was asthmatic, no where as free reving as my inline 6. I will admit that the power output is lackluster thank god for torque.

My comments regarding a chick car is based on observations as the majority of drivers that I see in and around Toronto tend more to be female then male in B and Spitfires. For some reason I see more guys driving Midgets than females. When it comes to the TR range 3 to 6 and 8 are all males, 7's also tend to be female.

GT6 are more male oriented.

As far as comments from the general public, there is more Wow factor in a 6 than a B. Could be because of the thoaty exhaust and masculine styling?
Steven

Perhaps reason why GT6 were male oriented is that the London Police force used them, as well as other police forces around the UK
Steven

Having owned an MGA, a recenctly restored 65 MGB and just aquiring a 64 TR4, I have to say that it has been a real joy driving my "B" and no I am not a hairdresser.

At first, I too could not appreciate the styling cues of the MGB but learned to appreciate both design and driving features. In retrospect, this was the sportscar of the sixties, bar none.

Having said this, I have always had a place in my heart for the TR4, probably because of it's Italian heritage much like the MGB. Simple lines, the right amount of curves and those rear tail fins, nice touch.

The TR6 on the other hand in my view is not so. In fact it has no real styling that stands out. When were the Germans known for their automotive elegance. If it were not for aggressive advertising directed to the male population by Triumph back then as a "man's" car, maybe more hairdressers would have drove (driving) a TR6!

Regards, Dino
Dino Zappi

Dino--I think the MGA is an awesome looking roadster. In fact, I had the pleasure to watch one race in Pittsburgh's vintage grand prix last July and hope to spot it again this Saturday. There is no styling comparison between the MGA and TR6, as the TR6 evolved into a straight-flanked/tailed beast (remember the print ad--"Six and the Single Man"). However, I appreciate the Kharman signature design on the six and feel no comparisons with it's curvaceous brethren are needed.

Rick O.
72 TR6
Rick Orthen

I owned a MGB quite a long time ago, then a Jensen Healy, and I just got a 1971 TR6. My impressions are that the TR6 is a lot louder and handles heavier. Personally, I have always liked the looks of the Triumphs better as they are more unusual-the TR3 looked better to me than the MGA and the TR3, 250 and TR6 look a lot cooler, to me, than the MGB. The MGB felt "lighter" to drive. AT 6'3", I had no trouble driving any of them. There are a lot of MGBs on the road down here, but I haven't seen a TR6 on the road in years. I suspect the TR6 is a little rarer and more valuable. Both of them are a blast to drive, and you can't go wrong with either.
JohnB

I own my 14th TR6 now and have had 5 MGBs. I prefer the TR6 yet I must say that fun has not been had in a B until you do the proper 215 v-8 conversion. I don't know why I sold it and will do another. This time I will have to look at a supercharger though as the 215 seems to run out of steam around 5k rpm due to the small bore to valve size. I know this sparks a whole new debate on originality but if not for the economics of the 73-74 world oil crisis, there would be many many MGB v-8s out there.
w Holtzclaw

Hi All
I have owned a B roadster for a long number of years and recently restored and put a TR6 on the road and was quite surprised to find that the B had a bigger boot as the shape of the TR6 gave me the impression that it would be the opposite.
This probably doesn't bother most people but as I use the cars for touring I was surprised at how much more stuff I could cram into the B, so saying I think the TR6 is a far superior car to drive but maybe the novelty hasn't worn off yet
Ron
R. Algie

Steve P,I would argue your remarks re TR IRS, which is almost identical to BMW, which nobody questions. As to the Jag rear end, have you ever worked on one - absurdly complicated, unnecessarily so, for no gain.Having driven solid axle cars,(not just TR) I would say there was a major improvement with IRS.How can a beam axle come close. Peter
Peter Gooch

1) I am well aware that the BMW rear suspension is also a semi-trailing arm. I just beleive that a double arm suspension is in general (not always) a better design than a single arm. The thing to keep in mind is that any design is a compromise, you just have to decide what you wish to gain vs. what you are willing to give up.

2) Yes, as a matter of a fact I have worked on the the IRS on E-Types and XJ series cars. To me the biggest pain in the rear end (so to speak) is the inboard brakes, otherwise not that big a deal.

3) Solid axle vs. IRS is again a matter of design compromise, either can work or be absolutely dreadful. One of the debates we are having over a vintage racer set up is whether to go solid or IRS on a car. Both have their merits for this application.
SteveP

Steve, this is how it seems to me - with a solid axle, the most you can do is restrain the body from rolling above it - w/ the TR/BMW type IRS, the harder you push it in the bends, the more lift you get on the outside of the body in the turn, exactly counter to what the body wants to do IE, roll outward. I have not raced these axles but certainly know how different they feel. Re the Jags (of the period) the setting up of the taper roller bearings where the rest of the world used flexible bushings seemed an unnecessary pain, plus the drive shafts providing the upper link, etc etc. Just one mans opinion. Peter
Peter Gooch

This thread was discussed between 02/07/2003 and 30/07/2003

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