Featured: After Three Decades Apart, This Enthusiast Was Reunited With His Beloved Triumph GT6 MK3

After Three Decades Apart, This Enthusiast Was Reunited With His Beloved Triumph GT6 MK3

By George Colbeanu
October 13, 2020

I first saw this Triumph on a random social media scrolling spree. It stopped me mid swipe, and in the spirit of the social element of the Instagrams and Facebooks of our indoor existences, I made it a point to meet the person behind this incredible build in person. A few back and forth messages later, I found myself in the south of England with the car and its driver in front of me.

The beautiful white GT6 MK3 looks like a proper sports racer from its period, with the clean livery conjuring images of British circuit racing in the 1960s and ‘70s, but it hasn’t always been this way.

Its owner, Kevin Perryman, was eager to tell me all about his GT6 and its more than 30-year-long story. Before we could sink into that conversation I had to race the weather and get the shots done before the roiling clouds brought the storm in the distance over our heads.

Seeing this 50-year-old coupe navigating the twists and hills of the English country roads, hearing the straight-six sing through the rev range with each gear change, and watching it generally exhibit the nimbleness that only small and light cars possess was the kind of secondhand experience that compels one to spend the night at home trawling the classifieds. Kevin’s been driving on these routes for over a decade at this point, but he climbs out of the car at the end of our rolling shots session with a smile too wide to be jaded.

We eventually come to a stop as the weather became too much for us to keep going in good humor, put the car away, and got to talking about how this car came into Kevin’s life all those years ago.

“When I was 18 I had a 3-liter Capri GXL MkI, a rare car at the time even then. The RS3000 model was unaffordable to my teenage self, but I was happy with what I had. The GXL stayed with me for a few years, but I was forced to sell it on, as it was just getting too expensive for me to keep up with the maintenance. It needed its share of work done, so I passed it to the next owner. When I saw this Triumph around that same time, though, I jumped right back in.

“One night, shortly after buying the car, my friend Bob and I were just driving back from getting some burgers when the GT6 blew a tire. It was the left rear that blew, in a righthand bend, and so it sent the car into a spin. She flipped onto the roof, scraping along the road with me and Bob unceremoniously hanging upside down. Luckily we were both fine, but I can’t say the same for the poor car. Waiting for the fire brigade to come help us flip the car was the longest few minutes of my life, and after it was towed back to the driveway I could really assess the damage. At this point nearly everything was smashed or crumpled, the bonnet had come off, the roof was compromised, and really pretty much every panel was damaged.

“At the time, I was doing my mechanical engineering apprenticeship and was a bit of a petrolhead, as I still am to this day, so the idea of getting the car back together and onto the road filled my head. People were telling me to just scrap it, that it wasn’t worth it, that it was ‘dead.’ To which I would say, ‘No, it’s not dead, and it’s probably the reason I’m still alive.’ The ribbed roof did its jump, and even the fire brigade that came to the scene said that if I’d been driving a eurobox, a Metro or a Fiesta or whatever, that I would have been let’s say ‘less fortunate,’ because the roof would have caved in.

“So I owed a lot to this car, and I vowed to save its life in return. I felt truly sorry for the car, like I’d let her down. I couldn’t wait to get on with the restoration. It ended up taking roughly three years to get her back together from the chassis outwards.

“We measured every inch of the chassis to make sure it was not compromised, every link and joint, and when it was done we painted her gloss black. I drove to shows with the car and really I took her everywhere I went. I was also in the reserves at the time in the British Army REME, so she came everywhere with me during that time. She was never meant to be a glass cabinet car, but rather out in the action, even if somedays that just meant a few errands.

“She was not a concours piece, always a work in progress. The Triumph spent about 70% of her time back then in the workshop, with the other 30% on the road, being thoroughly enjoyed. The time I get to spend driving made every hour spent working on her or for her so worth it. Anyone with a deep connection to his or her car knows what I’m talking about, I’m sure. The amount of hours one spends on a car, the sheer work, the longterm dedication, every saved penny spent, it’s a real commitment. It’s just plain love.

“Thirty two years ago, when all this was going on, my dream was to take her to the Le Mans Classic and cross the finish line, but she snapped a half shaft, shearing the thread, and we could not get another one in time, so I missed the window of opportunity that had opened up. Then raising a family came into the picture, and then, as life works in fascinating ways, I got drafted to go out to the Gulf with only 10 days notice and I had no choice, as I was a senior vehicle mechanic at the time and had to choose between going or getting arrested. So, I went, got placed in the armored infantry, ‘The Black Watch Regiment’ to keep their kit running.

“When I got back, the car was in a very sorry state, but I swore to not touch another spanner and for a while I did not, but the car is what helped me heal. Working on her made the transition so much easier. Even after a while though, I was not in the right frame of mind, and so I passed her onto someone else to care for her, concentrating on my family, thinking yeah we had a good run together, but it’s time to move on. I had other more pressing responsibilities.

“Fast forward 30 years on, at 54 years of age I was browsing the web with my mate, looking at classic car prices and being shocked at how much they had gone up across the board. Keeping in mind, back then, we were in the era when you could buy an Escort Mexico Mk1 for £800 and use it to jump bridges, and plenty of people did just that. Now those cars are trading at values in the tens of thousands.

“Then all of a sudden as I was scrolling through the adverts, I saw one for a white Triumph GT6, and it looked familiar. You just know the shape of your car, all the little telltales, and when we dug into it—and it even tears me up telling you right now—I found out that it was the very same one I’d fallen in love with long ago. My old little Triumph was still out there.

“I had a classic bike at the time, but couldn’t keep it and bring the Triumph back home. I passed my bike onto a new caretaker who is rightfully restoring it, so no complaints there, just a bit of the inevitable wistfulness when the memories well up. Having my Triumph back in the garage made me feel extremely fortunate, as I would have never guess that three decades later it would find its way back home. And I found it by chance, no specific hunting or tracking or what have you—maybe that’s the only way it could have happened. To find the car again, after all this time, it was like I was given an opportunity by the universe. I just said to myself ‘Thank you very much,’ and I grabbed it with no hesitation. I got the car back. It even has the original engine after all this time!

“Now we are continuing on with our second chapter if you will, and I am doing all the things to this wonderful car that I always wanted to do back when we were both young. It is of course a perpetual work in progress, and once again it spends more time in the garage than outside of it, but not for lack of trying. I don’t have as many chances to take her out nowadays, but whenever I can, I do.

“Thirty years ago my dream was the Le Mans Classic. This year was not feasible for obvious reasons, but I’m not giving up on fulfilling that dream. And what’s a bit more waiting after all this time? I just want to be there, in the shadow of the legends, driving past the pits with my beloved car, that would be just the ultimate full circle story. Just me and her, my old love returned, a dream. I themed the car around the endurance racers of the period, and to go to the biggest stage in that sphere would be a fitting tribute.

Even after all this time, I still find myself dreaming of that day yet to come, find myself waking up just to go out to look at my car, picturing it on the main straight, or rounding Tetre Rouge. My wife goes crazy when she sees me doing this, but she’s supportive, too. She always says, ‘When it’s ready, just go! Just do it, so you can take it out of your system.’ My wife is my true love, but the GT6 was my first love, and you never forget your first love.

“At the end of the day, we are just temporary caretakers, as they say. We have a duty to look after the cars we love so that the next person can keep their story going. If you are not prepared to take care of something that you love, do you really love it? That’s why I had to sell my Triumph back then, and though I missed it terribly, I’m glad it was never neglected. I feel truly lucky that it’s come back to me, that we can pick up where we left off.

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Low Clive
Low Clive
1 year ago

What a tale! I was about how much I missed my first love after reading this.

Jarro Cabañes
Jarro Cabañes
3 years ago

What a story! Reading this reminded me of how much I miss my first love.

3 years ago

Beautiful car and a great story.

3 years ago

I had the same car in the same color, blue-green 1971 GT6 Mk3 When I was in high school and college. Drove it everywhere West Virginia and Virginia frim 1972-1977. I also rolled it onto its roof once and fixed it and drove it for another two years.

3 years ago

I have one of the later non rotoflex versions. Currently it is having fueling issues, but once ironed out I will be driving it as my main transport. These are amazing cars, and this is my 5th one. Love this car’s level of prep. Looks amazing. Enjoy some pics of my car.

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