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Triumph Spitfire - Triumph or Miata - old VW head needs advice.

Yes, I've been perusing the archives, but maybe a little more help if you would...

Background is this:

I want a small convertible (or perhaps a Mini if not a convertible). I really want a British car, not a Miata. But I'm starting to wonder if I should "settle" for a Miata on the advice of several people.

I've always had aircooled VW's. I run a VW parts business ( and tinker with them often. I'm well accustomed to their periodic breakdowns at inopportune times, the required maintanence of keeping up a 20 year old car, the habit of keeping tools and a Bentley manual handy on all drives, listening for "new" noises when driving down the road, etc.

But, to be honest, I just don't have the time to deal with yet another vehicle that requires that attention - particularly one that I'm not familiar with as I am with VW's. I need a car that will be a reliable daily driver without constantly having to open the bonnet to do incessant maintenance and small repairs.


CAN I get an Triumph Spitfire, MG, Mini, etc. that will be roughly as reliable as a Miata, with only basic routine maintenance, for about what a used Miata might cost me? If so, how? What should I be looking for?Stock, engine or other conversions, years/models? I know the answers to these questions when it comes to Volkswagens but I'm clueless with British cars. If I go this route, I'd be inclined to seek one where what needs to be done, already has been by the previous owner, rather than taking it on as a project. Can you point me to any good FAQ's on the issue or offer some advice?

Or should I just give up and settle for a used Miata?

I'll try to check the bbs periodically, but would greatly appreciate if you could also copy me via email with any responses.

Ron Salmon

I own a MX5 (MIATA) and a Spitfire!!
mail me i can tell you of the pro's and cons of both!!

I have just finished a FULL body-tub off restoration of the spitfire.


I'd say go for the Spitfire 1500. Including the usual classic stuff (U joints, Etc), we have very little trouble with my Dad's 1500... And that exhaust note... Sheer bliss! AND, when you do get problems, because it's herald-based, there are plenty of parts availible.
Jason Elgood

I heard that the Miata was designed in California and when a whole bunch of Mazda executives came over from Japan to review the design, they wanted to know how it would ride, sound, feel, etc. In other words they wanted all of them to have a test drive. So they called an equal number of Spitfire owners and took them all for a convoy ride, up the coast. That is what convinced them to make up their collective minds. The concensus was overwhelming and hence the Miata (MX5) was "born". At least that's the story I heard. Now you know the rest of the story.

So you take your pick.

Also there are a number of re-builders who have been putting out a convertible Mini (the original version). One is in Germany and the other in France, I believe. I have seen some at British Car Day Shows.

Don Elliott, Original Owner, 1958 TR3A
Don Elliott

Although I've never had a Spitfire I do own a 1965 Herald 12/50 which although restored is original in spec. My wife and I also had an MX5 (miata) for 18 months. In my opinion, although my Herald is now as new and extremely reliable, the car is still 36 years old and the design goes back to the 1950's. Cars like this are never going to be as reliable as an MX5 especially taking into consideration the excellent reputation Japanese cars have for reliability. Our MX5 required one service in the 18 months we had it and that was only because it was due for one. It ran faultlessly in everyway. I was brought up around Lotus's and when I jumped into the MX5 the memories came flooding back. It was the closest thing I'd ever driven to an Elan with regard to seating position, general layout and handling. Perhap the power delivery is not quite as raw but with the Lotus's we were forever repairing them. I have nightmares about setting the points gap on a twin cam or balancing the carbs!
Although the Triumphs are fun it sounds like you've already got the classic side covered and you're looking for a fun car for everyday use. I'd go for the Miata. We only sold our's because of the arrival of our daughter.
t white

This thread was discussed between 07/09/2001 and 28/09/2001

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