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Triumph Spitfire - Should I buy a Spitfire?

I have a very reliable friend who is selling his Spitfire. Tax exempt and fully restored from scratch. It is really quite beautiful. He has offered it to me for 4,000.00 and I am tempted to say the least.

My father had Triumphs when I was younger and I seem to recall that they are particularly prone to rust. This one has passed it's MOT with flying colours but I would like to know what are likely to be the main problems with buying this sort of vehicle.

I would not be able to keep it garaged but I suspect would buy a tonneau cover.

Do you get much snow where you live? If you do, and they use salt on the roads to melt it, you will have rust. You may be able to slow the rust if you undercoat the car. As much as the rust, my other concern is the amount of daily driving that you do. Where I live, it is very common for people to drive an hour or more each way commuting to work, many times in heavy stop and go traffic. This would be really hard on a Spit, especially in the hot weather.

Otherwise, I would say: Do it! I found my Spit 5 months ago with 36K miles on it, and it has been pure joy. My three year old daughter and I run lots of errands in it (and we now find plenty of extra errands!). I also now have a few projects to keep me busy when the snow falls (new seat foams, new speedo cable, do a little restoration on the dash, etc). Fortunately, we have 2 primary cars, so we don't have to rely on the Spit at any time, so I can rent a garage for the winter and just keep my little Hyacinth (as in "Keeping Up Appearances", as a tip of the hat to the high maintenance I expect at some point) there.

I wish you much luck and happiness, whatever your decision,

T.M. Brex

I am also thinking on a spitfire since I cant afford a TR6 any time soon, and I want I car I can drive and work on. I am looking at one this sunday that may or may not be a cream puff...a 72 BRG MKIV. Any idea which engine this will have? Parts $$ seem a steal compared to my 78 BMW, so I can do a lot more with it. Here's hoping it's not too rusty! The owner tells me the newish top has some missing snaps and the brakes are squishy and need bleeding. Does any one think a squishy peddle means more than old fluid? In my BMW that could be old brake lines or air in the system.


If the car is not a rust-bucket, don't worry about the brakes. I replaced the front capliers (loaded with new pads) and rear wheel cylinders for $150 at AutoZone. It is an easy job, and should be done regardless. You probably also want to rebuild the master cylinder (I haven't yet, but plan to.... it is supposed to be an easy job). You should be able to get new snaps and a tool to attach them at a craft or fabric store.

Let us know how it looked.

I may get a TR6 some day, but my Spit is really a ton of fun!
T. M. Brex

I've just bought myself a 1967 Triumph Spitfire Mk II and have had sleepless nights about it being stored outside (the fact none of the locks work either isn't a good start!). From everyone I've spoken to and everything I've read, if you can't garage it then you'll have problems (in fact the guy I bought it from was selling it because he had lost his garage). If you have to rent, think of that cost outweighed by the fact that the body will still be attached to the chassis after a year!
Ed Pain

hello, I'm the seller...The car was fully restored and every body panel was replaced. It has no rust at all for reason given below.
It's a Mark IV body, with a Mkiii recon engine (considered the better of the 1300 blocks). It's got the full synchro MkIV gearbox (recon and then rebuilt because the recon was no good -dodgy thrust washer gaps; well done the "gearbox specialists"...if you want something doing properly, do it yourself).
The rebuild was a complete bare chassis-up job. There is a full set of pictures from day 1 to its first MOT, and a detailed scrap-book showing what was done to the car, stage by stage and receipts for everything: full body rebuild and full mechanical rebuild. Nothing, literally nothing, was left untouched though I have tried to keep as many original 1972 parts on the car after reconditioning. All the ancillary engine and electric parts- distributor, ignition coil, alternator, hoses, lines and wiring in the engine bay have been replaced with new. Annoying Spitfire problems include earthing weaknesses and fusebox misconnections. These have been dealt with over the past few years- a new fuse box and better/extra earth connections around the well-known problem areas (e.g. rear indicator nearside - achilles heels for Spits, Heralds, Midgets and MGBs).
It's Sapphire blue with a black interior, carpets and dash. Twin stainless steel sports exhaust. I could go on but I might start crying... It was MOTd in July. It has been dry stored in a barn in Hampshire since it was restored and has only been driven on nice sunny days in country lanes. A miserly 1200 miles since the rebuild, over a remarkable 10 years. I just don't get to use it as much as I "think" I do so it's time to face up to the truth.
You can see the ad in this month's Practical Classics or, if you are a member, go and have a look at the Triumph Sports Six Club site where it is advertised.
I am selling it because I have two children, two motorbikes and an estate car. Something has to go and I think someone who really cherishes British sports cars should enjoy it as much as I have. I've been a TSSC member for years and am genuinely interested in the engineering of British sports cars and am a well-meaning enthusiast. If you want to take a look you can call me (Zog is not my name) on 07900 167431.
I'll gladly answer any queries about the car here, by email or on the phone.

sorry got the email address wrong. that's better

Well, I looked at the BRG 72 last Sunday. The car had decent paint, done by an amature but no rust. Passenger floor had many small holes that someone squeezed silicone through, a few of the same on drivers side. Engine was oily and filthy, lots of wires going helter-skelter, engine barely idled and needed tune up. No smoke from tailpipe, there is a sleeve that holds the dipstic in the block that comes out with the dipstick. Frame great, trunk good, fuel tank good. Just the car I'm looking for except...someone has smacked the front. The front bumper is off (but straight)but the hood has a gap on the passenger side bigger than the drivers'. I cant figure out if the frame is bent up front. Something is out of line and I cant figure out what. Dent on nose of 'bonet' the size of a softball. The price is right $800, but I am worried about the frame in front. Also, I cant get a definitive answer on the rear bumper style it's supposed to have; it has the black rubber overridders on it, and the small license plate lights on either side. Is the back from a later year, or did Triumph mix and match? On the internet for a 72 I see all different styles!

How did it handle at speed? Did it track straight? (Check to make sure the tires are all inflated to the correct pressure and see). Look for signs of uneven tire wear. Get a flashlight and a long-handled mirror and look for damage or welding underneath. lift the hood and look at the frame rails in the front.... Any visible twisting?

Looking at all of these things ahould make your choice simple. Since my Spit only sees weekend driving, and only in good weather, if it did gring tires off in 20K miles, that would still be acceptable, if the car didn't shake and everything was safe and solid. (It will take me many summers to drive it 20K miles)

Good luck!
T. M. Brex

This thread was discussed between 23/07/2004 and 18/08/2004

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