Triumph Sports Cars

engine swaps and other performance upgrades, plus "factory" V8s (Stag and TR8)

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BWA


(312 posts)

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04/13/2010 08:13PM

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Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: BWA
Date: May 20, 2011 11:59AM

Opinion
TR6 makes a very handsome Frankenstein

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David Booth, National Post · May 20, 2011 | Last Updated: May 20, 2011 3:19 AM ET

Funny, he doesn't look particularly demented. In fact, he looks quite normal, lives in a traditional Scarborough bungalow and, when he's not out chasing moonbeams in oddly powered cars, Ken Hiebert drives a garden-variety Nissan 240SX around Toronto. Indeed, Hiebert comes across as the no-nonsense electrician (at a newspaper press, no less) that he is: cool, calm and precise.

Until you start talking about his car.

Even then, there's none of the animation that typifies the slightly loopy nor any of the over-the-top hyperbole that usually accompanies obsession, his always thoughtful analysis betraying the fact that his teeny, tiny 1972 Triumph TR6 is stuffed full of Pontiac Trans Am V8.

A little context is required here. Triumph's iconic sports car, like most English sports cars, is a dinky little affair, whatever sportiness you might ascribe it due to its light weight rather than its power. On a good day, the TR6's 2.5-litre in-line six pumps out as much as 150 horsepower, although American models were rated as low as 104 hp. Stuffing a massive 5.7L General Motors V8 into its engine bay then is a little like grafting Arnold Schwarzenegger's torso on to Justin Bieber's spindly little legs: Yes, the result may be able to hit a baseball out of the park, but it'll probably wobble around the bases like Lindsay Lohan pre-rehabilitation.

Nor can Hiebert be deemed truly non compos mentis just because his car is so meticulously crafted. Typical TR6s, after all, had suspect rear differentials, even more fragile clutches and electrical wiring that only Joseph Lucas's (inventor of the intermittent electron) mother could love. They were, in short, real crap-cans. So Hiebert's remake had to have the attention to detail that those unionized Coventry line workers omitted.

Nonetheless, the most amazing thing about Hiebert's little British Racing Green bomb is that, unlike so many other customs, it doesn't look like a spit-polished-and-pampered trailer queen meant to be stared at but not driven or even started. If anything, that hunka-hunka Trans Am motor looks more at home in there than did the original Triumph engine. Nothing's chromed. Nothing is ornate. It just looks, well, right.

But that's still not what makes Hiebert off his rocker. Nope, after an hour of politely fielding all my "how did you possibly fit that theres?" and "where the hell did that come froms?" Hiebert let loose his final bombshell: This is the first car he's ever built. Indeed, it's the first car he ever really worked on. Prior to TR6 ownership, he was your basic change-the-oiland-spark-plugs backyard mechanic.

But, as he describes it, he had a two-bay garage with a Triumph-sized hole in it and he knew he wanted something different. And, although he actually bought the Triumph with a V8 already installed, precious little remains of that car. He's done far too much to detail in this short column, but just as an indication of the metamorphosis, in installing the LT1 Trans Am motor, he converted the car to electronic fuel injection -meaning that all Joseph Lucas's nightmare wiring had to be replaced. As well, major portions of the body have been hacked to pieces and then re-welded because the original conversion had the Ford eight-inch rear differential banging against the rear bulkhead. Indeed, finding anything other than the paint (which Hiebert admits needs a refresh) that remains of the underlying TR6 or the original conversion is rare. For a guy who barely knew how to change his oil filter, it was a monumental project (one that, incidentally, took seven years).

The crazy thing is that the whole thing works. Oh, the ride is pretty rough because the springs have been beefed up to take the extra weight of that big V8 and the extra grip of the Falken P245/45R17 radials (replacing the original's skinny little P185/80R15s). Nonetheless, it handles -on smooth roads, at least -extraordinarily well. Good enough for Hiebert to participate in competitive autocross. And, in a small nod to normalcy, Hiebert has declined to hot rod the big American V8. It pumps 275 horsepower -and more than 300 pound-feet of torque -to the rear wheels in current guise and any more would have the poor TR6's frame twisting itself into a pretzel every time you dumped the clutch.

But the truly amazing thing is how well Hiebert's Frankenstein works as an ordinary car. Other than overly stiff steering -there's no power steering and no room for it to be added -the steroidal Triumph is as civil as anything off the General Motors production line. Indeed, the little British supercar feels more sophisticated than the last Trans Am I drove. Everything from the brakes to the windshield wipers works just as it should. Hiebert averages about 15,000 kilometres a year in the little beast, attending rallies as far away as Tennessee with the Triumph.

And just to show you that madness, like rust, never sleeps, Hiebert has another, even more decrepit junkpile in the driveway about to undergo a similar ground-up GM V8 metamorphosis. It's a Jaguar E-Type. That should really piss off the purists.

dbooth@nationalpost.com
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Moderator
Curtis Jacobson
Portland Oregon
(4411 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2007 02:16AM

Main British Car:
71 MGBGT, Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: Moderator
Date: May 20, 2011 12:31PM

That's extremely cool.


Congratulations to Ken!





Did someone say E-Type?


Merv
Merv Hagen
IL
(102 posts)

Registered:
05/21/2008 05:48PM

Main British Car:
1980 MGB Buick 215 T-5 Trans

Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: Merv
Date: May 20, 2011 06:06PM

Ken, I really think that this article UNDERSTATED your TR. A simply great car. Power whenever and however you want it. Handles great and even Marilyn thought that it road better then the Honda Accord she has been looking at, but this is coming from two people that think MG’s are great touring cars.

Of course I was really surprised at the final line in this write up.
I didn't think that Canadians even knew how to spell E-TYPE.
Great to seeing both you, we had fun.
Merv


rficalora
Rob Ficalora
Willis, TX
(2577 posts)

Registered:
10/24/2007 02:46PM

Main British Car:
'76 MGB w/CB front, Sebring rear, early metal dash Ford 302

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: rficalora
Date: May 20, 2011 06:23PM

Very cool Ken! Can't wait to see the e-type in action!


TR6-6SPD
Ken Hiebert
Toronto Ontario
(240 posts)

Registered:
04/23/2008 11:43AM

Main British Car:
1972 TR6 1994 5.7 L GM LT1

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: TR6-6SPD
Date: May 20, 2011 08:58PM

Thanks BWA for bringing the article to attention, thanks Merv for your very kind words and thanks Curtis and Rob for your congratulations. David Booth is a very cool guy, a non-traditionalist you could say. That's why he took such an interest in my TR6, (he should come to one of our meets!). He writes about everything on 2 or 4 wheels for The National Post and his articles are syndicated all over,(tough job but somebody has to do it). BWA included a link to David's email but here's a link to the actual article:
[www.nationalpost.com]

David took as much interest in my "next project" as in writing about and driving the TR6. I'd be glad to share this E-type metamorphoris on British V8 as soon as I have something concrete to post.


mowog1
Rick Ingram
Central Illinois
(1465 posts)

Registered:
10/17/2007 09:36PM

Main British Car:
1974.5 MGB/GT 3.9l Rover

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: mowog1
Date: May 20, 2011 09:53PM

Great article and fantastic publicity for our BritishV8's!

But....where....was.....Katie's....input....?!?!?!

:)


dwtr6v8
Don Watson
West Virginia
(253 posts)

Registered:
12/07/2007 07:45AM

Main British Car:
1974 TR6 Ford 5.0 HO

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: dwtr6v8
Date: May 21, 2011 08:08AM

Congrats!

The E-type IS for Katie!

Sorry you did not stop over, I had the room ready.

Maybe next trip?



sellersrodshop
Steve Sellers
Nashville TN
(21 posts)

Registered:
10/24/2010 02:00AM

Main British Car:
1966 Triumph TR-4A

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: sellersrodshop
Date: May 22, 2011 03:15AM

quote: "They were, in short, real crap-cans."

sounds like a good personalized license tag, "CRAP CAN"

congrats on the writeup!


TR6-6SPD
Ken Hiebert
Toronto Ontario
(240 posts)

Registered:
04/23/2008 11:43AM

Main British Car:
1972 TR6 1994 5.7 L GM LT1

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: TR6-6SPD
Date: May 22, 2011 08:33AM

Steve Sellers,
I see you're from Nashville. It's 7:30 am Sunday right now. Come on down to the LP Field, Nashville, GoodGuys Rod and Custom event and drop by the autocross area. I'm presently battling it out on the track with a number of very quick, well sorted Camaros and Mustangs. This is a group of very friendly guys who don't mind beating on their rides on occasion. Drop by and see the racing.
Ken


74ls1tr6
Calvin Grannis
Elk Grove,CA
(1145 posts)

Registered:
11/10/2007 10:05AM

Main British Car:
74 TR6 / 71 MGB GT TR6/Ls1 71 MGB GT/Ls1

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: 74ls1tr6
Date: May 22, 2011 09:11AM

Ken,

Congrats!

Great write up, your car is getting known around the world now. Teaching the kids how it is done. Our sport is growing.


MGBV8
Carl Floyd
Kingsport, TN
(3622 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 11:32PM

Main British Car:
79 MGB, Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: MGBV8
Date: May 22, 2011 09:25AM

Go get 'em, Ken! Wish we could be there. Much better weather!


sellersrodshop
Steve Sellers
Nashville TN
(21 posts)

Registered:
10/24/2010 02:00AM

Main British Car:
1966 Triumph TR-4A

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: sellersrodshop
Date: May 25, 2011 01:45AM

ken,

wish i knew ahead of time you were going to be here. i had a chance to go fri & sat (my dad went in the 38 p/u) & would have been there for sure had i known. after the fire in nov, trying to split time between getting the new shop up & running & staying somewhat on schedule with the workload has about worn me out. i bit the bullet & decided i would have to miss the show this year & work thru the weekend vs. going to the show & falling further behind. make sure to let me know if you come to the show next year (or any other time you might be passing thru the area) & we'll hook up. i'll be back at the show next year with something, either the tr4a if its up & running or the 69 mustang, maybe both. one of the good things about being 10 mi. from the stadium is leaving my window card blank as far as year/make & driving a different vehicle each day :)

by the way, how did the racing go??



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/25/2011 01:46AM by sellersrodshop.


TR6-6SPD
Ken Hiebert
Toronto Ontario
(240 posts)

Registered:
04/23/2008 11:43AM

Main British Car:
1972 TR6 1994 5.7 L GM LT1

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: TR6-6SPD
Date: August 17, 2011 11:55AM

Hi Steve,
Sorry I’m taking so long to get back in here on the forum to answer your question but it’s been a very busy summer. And now I’m digging up an old post to boot!
The racing went well. Sunday, the last day, we had threats of thunderstorms so the event was wrapped up early but it was still fun. I did a separate post on British V-8 “Race Cars and Motorsports” category. Here it is:

[forum.britishv8.org]

Incidentally, converted British cars got a little bit more exposure at Nashville. Tom Pfeifer from “AmericanCarsAmericanGirls.com” was on site looking for candidates.
Here is what he published:

[americancarsamericangirls.com]

Here are a few photos of the autocross event:

Course layout:
IMG_4473.JPG

Staging area:
IMG_4472.JPG

Timing stand:
IMG_4516.JPG

Starting line:
IMG_4544.JPG



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/24/2011 01:29PM by TR6-6SPD.


Bill Young
Bill Young
Kansas City, MO
(1337 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 09:23AM

Main British Car:
'73 MG Midget V6 , '59 MGA I6 2.8 GM, 4.0 Jeep

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: Bill Young
Date: August 17, 2011 04:03PM

Ken, you and Katie are great ambassadors for our hobby. Noticed that American Cars / American Girls got in the address for this forum, that should bring a few more interested people in. Great article.


rficalora
Rob Ficalora
Willis, TX
(2577 posts)

Registered:
10/24/2007 02:46PM

Main British Car:
'76 MGB w/CB front, Sebring rear, early metal dash Ford 302

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: rficalora
Date: August 17, 2011 09:27PM

Great article Ken. Are you guys planning to make it to TX next year?



TR6-6SPD
Ken Hiebert
Toronto Ontario
(240 posts)

Registered:
04/23/2008 11:43AM

Main British Car:
1972 TR6 1994 5.7 L GM LT1

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: TR6-6SPD
Date: August 18, 2011 12:20PM

Bill,
Thanks, we're trying.

Rob,
Yes, we most certainly plan to be in TX next year. In fact, we almost travelled that far a couple of weeks ago but settled on Georgia and North Carolina.
I'm laying out some interesting back roads to explore on the way down to TX. I find www.sundaymorningrides.com to be very useful. Here's a few you may be familiar with:
Lufkin area:
[www.sundaymorningrides.com]

NW of Houston:
[www.sundaymorningrides.com]

Sam Houston National Forest:
[www.sundaymorningrides.com]


rficalora
Rob Ficalora
Willis, TX
(2577 posts)

Registered:
10/24/2007 02:46PM

Main British Car:
'76 MGB w/CB front, Sebring rear, early metal dash Ford 302

authors avatar
Re: Cool article in National Post about Ken Hiebert & His TR6
Posted by: rficalora
Date: August 22, 2011 11:11PM

Ken, Great areas - all three of them... but, the 2nd two are litterally right on top of me. The NW Houston one comes w/in about 5 miles of my house & the Sam Houston forest one goes right by Lake Conroe where we spend a lot of weekends (it stays warm enough here to go out on the lake till early October).

If you head down this way, definitely give me a shout & let's hook up. My axles came in on Friday -- one fit, the other was too short. Sent it back to be reworked so with luck I'll be on the road in about 2 wks. Not sure why it's been so hard to get them right but the guy @ The Driveshaft Shop (Salisbury NC) said it's not uncommon & reworks them for no charge.


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