That 70’s car... He thought his 'barn find' was beautiful. (I thought otherwise.)

While I must confess that I was born in the 60’s, and that I identify with the 80’s generation, a lot of great things happened to me in the 70’s. For example, in 1978 I got my very first car.

I had my heart set on the little, red Celica or the hip VW Rabbit; however, a (not so cool) 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger was what my dad could afford and what he knew would be reliable during the tough Maine winters. And bottom-line - I finally had wheels of my own! It was, however, (in my humble opinion anyway) a cavern of olive-green square-ness. That said, I now seek them out at car shows, because who doesn’t have fond memories of their first car? There’s nothing like reminiscing about the glory days of high school.

So when Brian got it into his head that he wanted a Triumph Stag, I immediately thought ‘AWESOME - I love the look of 70’s cars!’

WAIT. NO. I didn’t think that all.

60’s – definitely. 80’s – maybe. 70’s – nope. But he brought one home anyway.

This Stag Story is really more Brian’s than mine. And at the end of the story, I do admit that I was wrong. For those that know me, that point alone might keep you invested in reading further.

An erroneous ‘Craigslist Ad’ and a faraway car club all helped to make this Brian’s personal ‘barn find’ story. Perhaps using some of these tips and tricks will help you find yours!

Listed for sale on Craigslist in Illinois, there was absolutely no mention of the make ‘Triumph’ and the word ‘Stag’ was misspelled as ‘Stagg’. Because of this, search engines overlooked it, and the car had been for sale for a long time, with seemingly no interest. Lesson here: Always be thorough and complete in your listing, and always have someone else proof-read it. Also, if you’re searching for a particular make and model, try some options – you never know what you might find.

Living far away from Illinois, Brian was intrigued with the car, but hesitated to purchase it sight-unseen. So he turned to a group who he knew shared his passion – the Chicago Triumph Club. Eager to help a fellow Triumph lover (Brian had recently restored a TR4A), they helped to ensure that the transaction went smoothly. A wonderful club member checked out the car for Brian, sent detailed pictures, and even assisted with loading when the transporter came to ship the car to its new home. Lesson here: May we all be so kind as to help each other out. Sending a huge shout-out to our fellow car club members! Second, don’t necessarily be afraid to purchase a car from far away – but remember to do your homework. Brian will also attest to the fact that the transaction was made even better by a very honest owner. He confirmed that the car was very complete, with no rust, but that Brian should be aware that the engine did not turn over and that the windshield was broken.

When the Stag finally arrived at our house, Brian was thrilled with how original it was. It had the original tires, manuals, tools, and all accessories. The interior needed a lot of help, but the vinyl was in great shape (and he used all of it in the restoration). Admittedly, the repaint was very poor, but from the very start he knew a new paint job was in the future.

Brian and our youngest son completely rebuilt the engine, along with doing a complete brake system rebuild, a complete fuel system rebuild, electrical system clean-up, and of course, new tires. As Brian always notes – the best bonding in the world takes place in the garage. I think our sons will attest to that fact, too.

So far, this story sounds perfect, doesn’t it? At the risk of offending anyone, I hated this car. "It’s Triumph’s attempt at competing with Mercedes" he would tell me. I never really bought into that one. It was hard for me to see past that 70’s chrome (which in all fairness, Brian loved), or the delightful scent brought on by years of mouse inhabitation. Then he told me he wanted to paint it French Blue (its original color). My response “Oh honey, I’m concerned that would be a lot of blue.” Yeah... there’s a chance I used a slightly different tone than that. He held off painting the car – perhaps waiting for me to buy in on the plan. I never did.

This is the point in the story where I admit I was wrong. Yes, it’s happened once or twice in our 25 years of marriage. (Wink, wink.) Anyway, I think Brian finally got tired of me making odd faces whenever I went out to the shop, or perhaps he was simply just ready for the next project. One day I came home and the car had been sold.

You’re waiting for the part I was wrong about, right? Well, later that summer we would attend the local All British Field Meet. Lo and behold, in the small section of Stag’s, someone had entered a French Blue Triumph Stag. It took first place in its category at the show. It was absolutely stunning. I had to admit it.

‘Brian, honey, do you think you can buy the Stagg back?’

'It’s spelled ‘Stag’.'

Coming soon in the series -- Wire Wheels Wife: Confessions from outside the garage:

  • ‘Classic Millennials™’ – Oxymoron? I think not! An interview with insight from the future.

  • “I thought you were going to paint the car white? Is it sick? It looks a little….mint greenish?”

  • “How revving the engine of the Sprite led our son to the Revs program at Stanford.”

  • “Seriously? You have the auction channel on again?”

Pam Induni and her husband Brian are the co-founders of Classic Automotive Innovations. After spending years in high-tech marketing, Pam finally saw the light, helping to turn her husband’s hobby and passion into a business to help preserve these amazing pieces of history. She still calls the little British cars ‘cute’, still has a soft spot for her very first car (an olive green Dodge Dart Swinger!), and is still waiting for an Austin Healey 3000 (tupperware bins and all) to show up in her garage…

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