by James Kraus
Diamonds Are Forever, the seventh James Bond film, marked the return of Sean Connery as Secret Agent 007. Early in the film, operating under the cover of an assumed identity, he commandeers a Triumph Stag.
The evolution of the Stag began in the mid-sixties, around the time Goldfinger was being filmed. It was originally intended to be simply a convertible drophead version of the 1963 Triumph 2000 saloon. However, during its extended development the concept was revised to become more of a gentleman’s grand tourer and partly as a result, the Stag did not go on sale until 1970.
The styling was the work of Giovanni Michelotti, Triumph’s traditional design partner who had just recently penned the Herald and Spitfire as well as the 2000 saloon. During body development, problems with a lack of rigidity led to the adoption of a B-Pillar roll-over hoop with a connecting brace to the center of the windscreen frame to minimize scuttle shake. The resulting bright metal embellished superstructure, in combination with the fixed chrome door-window frames, was to become the most distinctive and defining styling element of the Stag.
Sometime during its extremely long gestation period, a fateful decision was made to significantly upgrade the specification by offering the car exclusively with a new Triumph-designed V8 engine, which was being concurrently developed.
Unfortunately, early buyers ran into several problems with the new 3.0 V8 right from the start, overshadowing early public enthusiasm. Had the car been offered with the 2.5 Triumph six as an alternative powerplant, it may well have enjoyed greater popularity and a longer production life. The Stag V8 was dealt a second blow from skyrocketing fuel prices resulting from the Arab oil embargo of 1973.
When Diamonds Are Forever began production, the Stag was British Leyland’s newest high-end product and was naturally selected by BL for product placement in the new Bond extravaganza. The vehicle chosen was plucked from the BL press fleet. It was finished in Saffron Yellow with a Saddle Tan interior and equipped with the standard 4-speed gearbox. The chassis number indicates that it was the fourteenth Stag produced.
In the film, the Stag is owned and driven by diamond smuggler Peter Franks. As Mr. Franks attempts to leave Britain at the Port of Dover on the way to Holland, he is apprehended by MI6 at Passport Control.
James Bond then assumes Peter Franks identity, commandeers the Triumph and proceeds to the Amsterdam home of Tiffany Case, crossing the North Sea via hovercraft.
BL ultimately sold approximately 26,000 Stags; production ceased in 1977. About one third of the Stags produced are still mobile, and very few cars express Seventies Britain quite like a well-turned-out Stag, particularly in yellow, orange, brown or magenta.