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
‘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.