Tri­umph Spit­fire

The Spit­fire was al­ways the sports car to buy if you wanted af­ford­able sum­mer fun. But val­ues have shot up as word has got out about the Spitty’s tal­ents – so now’s the time to buy a good one

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - WORDS Richard Dredge PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Magic Car Pics

‘The Her­ald was the per­fect plat­form for Tri­umph’s new two-seater’

The Tri­umph Spit­fire, launched in 1962, aimed to com­pete with the Austin-Healey ‘Fro­g­eye’ Sprite and, later, the MG Mid­get.

Thanks to its sep­a­rate-chas­sis con­struc­tion, the Her­ald pro­vided the per­fect plat­form from which to de­velop a new two-seater, open­topped sports car, even if the me­chan­i­cals were de­rived from the 1953 Stan­dard Eight. There may not have been much power on of­fer, but with just 670kg to haul along the per­for­mance was bet­ter than many buy­ers might have ex­pected – es­pe­cially as Tri­umph up­rated the 1147cc four­cylin­der en­gine by equip­ping it with twin car­bu­ret­tors, a slightly spicier camshaft and a freer-breath­ing ex­haust man­i­fold. Dur­ing nearly two decades of pro­duc­tion, the en­gine grew, the body­work was restyled and the sus­pen­sion honed to make the car’s han­dling more pre­dictable. How­ever, none of these cars are re­ally fast and none will ever pro­vide the élan of an Elan – but then you’re not pay­ing Lo­tus prices ei­ther. There are plenty of project Spit­fires about, and the char­ac­ter­ful twoseater can be the per­fect clas­sic for you to tackle your first restora­tion thanks to its sim­plic­ity. The prob­lem is that many peo­ple do ex­actly this and don’t make a very good job of it, which is why you need to buy with care if the car has al­ready been re­vived. There are also a lot of Spit­fires around that ap­pear to be fine when they’re not; many buy­ers get caught out buy­ing a Spit­fire that’s sup­pos­edly ready for the sum­mer, when in re­al­ity it’s barely road­wor­thy.

Most cars have been re­stored by now and orig­i­nal­ity is hard to find; sus­pen­sion sys­tems, ex­hausts, en­gines and wheels are of­ten up­graded, so don’t ex­pect to find a time-warp car very eas­ily. A lack of orig­i­nal­ity isn’t gen­er­ally an is­sue (although it may be to you), though poor restora­tions are a prob­lem be­cause many home re­stor­ers cut their teeth on cars like the Spit­fire.

The good news, though, is that it’s easy to spot a duf­fer from 100 paces, so buy with your eyes open and get set for some cheap fun this sum­mer.

Flip front gives un­prece­dented en­gine ac­cess. Sim­ple, stylish cabin is a snug fit.

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