On paper, a 3.0-litre V8 has the potential to be a pretty decent motor — but we’re talking about Triumph’s unit of the Seventies... It was so bad, even by British Leyland standards, that in all honesty it should never have left the factory...
Triumph was known for its zippy four-pot sportscars but wanted to try something different and in 1970 it launched the gorgeous Stag. Its styling couldn’t be questioned (it had a long bonnet, short deck and a T-bar roof) but its engine sure could. Customers expected a GT with firepower (and reliability) which an inline-four wouldn’t be able to provide and sadly, the new V8 wouldn’t be able to either.
During a lengthy five-year development period, Triumph basically mashed two of their existing four-pots together to make the V8 and because they couldn’t figure out how to make a fuel-injection system for it, they opted for a more simple twin-carb setup. This made less power (145 horses as opposed to 160 that they could have got) however, output would be the least of their worries.
The motor had been stroked to increase displacement from 2.5 to 3.0-litres — but the larger bores ate up space where the water passages were located and so in effect, they had created a bigger engine which had a restricted cooling capacity. Not very smart... Unsurprisingly, it would overheat (the water pump assembly didn’t help at all) suffer blown headgaskets and warped cylinder heads. What’s more, the main bearings were too small and failed with alarming regularity as did the timing chain which destroyed the valves and pistons in the process... They could have just increased displacement by stroking the engine via a crankshaft with a longer throw rather than taking such a complex route or better yet they could have just stuck the Rover 3.5-litre V8 in the bay and have very decent car — but the literally hot Stag was pulled from production seven years after launch with only around 25,000 built.
Triumph’s V8 made the diabolical Cadillac V8-6-4 and Olds V8 diesel look, ahem, like major triumphs and though the beautiful Stag should be remembered as fondly as other iconic British classics such as the MGB, Jag E-Type and Aston Martin DB5, the dreadful motor put paid to that.
However, a good working V8 doesn’t just have decent power — it sounds absolutley tremendous too which has made the car a collector’s item.
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