A "poor-man's XKE" is what some call the Triumph GT6. They share a six-cylinder engine and fastback styling, both rarities in English cars of their era. And they both boast independent rear suspensions and relatively luxurious interiors. The fact that the GT6 can be bought for less than one-fifth the price of an E-type coupe makes it an affordable classic worth considering.
Triumph built three distinct series of GT6s. The first, or Mk I, was produced from 1967 to 1968. The Mk II, or GT6+ in the US, was produced from 1969 to 1970, while the Mk III was built from 1971 to 1974. All three series used the same 2-liter in-line six from the Vitesse sedan, which varied in output from 95 to 104 hp.
The Mk I was built to compete directly with the MGB GT. (Of course, when the Datsun 240Z came along it completely outclassed both cars.) The six-cylinder engine allowed Triumph to meet smog regulations and offer a power advantage over the MGB.
Triumph wanted to keep the US price under $3,000, and designing the GT6 around the Spitfire helped it achieve just that.
Cosmetically the GT6+ (Mk II) can be distinguished from the Mk I by a different wood dash, reclining seats, flow-through ventilation (chrome vents within the C-pillar) and a heated rear window. The GT6+ resolved some of its predecessor's handling woes with a revised rear suspension, similar to that of a Corvette, with a lower wishbone pivoted between the chassis and the hubs.
Horsepower increased from 95 to 104 bhp with the incorporation of the TR5's cylinder head and a racier cam.
Rubber doughnuts are bolted to each driveshaft to absorb torque; these doughnuts are susceptible to deterioration and should be examined before purchasing. This is not an easy repair, but not an expensive one, either. In fact, it is hard to spend much money on any single fix of a GT6-it's the sum of many fixes that can devour your wallet, one small bite at a time.
The Mk III used the new Mark IV Spitfire bodywork. The end result was a more solid-looking car, but with less visual character. The development of the GT6 is like the evolution of most car makes: The final iteration is the most civilized, if not the most exciting.
A GT6 is a perfect starter classic. With its forward-tilting hood, the engine is very accessible. The mechanicals are simple, and the practicality of a roof with a hatchback make this a true four-season sports car. Even better, for those challenged for garage space, you can fit two (or more) GT6s in the space of one Ford Excursion.
Assuming you can find a well-restored car (worthwhile originals don't exist), be sure you can fit inside; the GT6 was clearly designed for slender, sub-5'9" enthusiasts.

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