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A min­i­mal mileage plus a life­time of lov­ing care means this Spit­fire is as good as it gets, says Paul Hardi­man

Classic Cars (UK) - - Contents -

Tri­umph Spitëre (p129), Ri­ley Grebe replica (p130), Mer­cury Cougar (p133), Jaguar E-type (p134)

This late-model Spit­fire is al­most like new, with just two reg­is­tered own­ers af­ter it was a demon­stra­tor at TH Nice, the sup­ply­ing dealer whose sticker re­mains in the rear win­dow of the hard­top. Thor­ough­bred has sold the car be­fore, to its pre­vi­ous owner, and since get­ting it back has re­fin­ished the wheels. It still shows just 3035 miles from new, cor­rob­o­rated by the his­tory file and Mots.

It was equipped from new with the two most ex­pen­sive op­tions – over­drive and a hard­top, al­though oddly there’s no soft-top. Aside from the stain­less ex­haust, fit­ted in 1994 at 1450 miles, this Spit­fire is al­most as it left the fac­tory.

That means there are a few small sink and dust marks in the orig­i­nal paint on the scut­tle, a nod to Seven­ties and Eight­ies Bri­tish Ley­land build qual­ity. It’s su­per­clean un­der­neath and un­der the bon­net, panel- and door-fit is all good, and all the spotwelds and joints re­tain their fac­tory sharp­ness. Even the press­ing wrin­kles sur­vive in the in­ner front whee­larches, their rub­ber seal­ing flaps re­main like new, and the fac­tory stick­ers are still un­der­neath the front clamshell, as bright as the day they left Coven­try.

In­side, the cig­a­rette lighter has never been used and the hound­stooth seat trim is al­most like new; the driver’s seat base just be­gin­ning to go a lit­tle baggy. The dash tim­ber is per­fect and be­neath this sits the orig­i­nal Uni­part ra­dio. The dash top is ex­cel­lent and even the ven­ti­la­tion duct sur­rounds un­usu­ally show no rust. Car­pets are un­worn, and there are no marks on the brushed-alu­minium steer­ing wheel spokes.

In the boot, the light still works when you open the lid, the spare has never been on the car and it looks as though the tool bag has never been opened. Re­mark­ably, all the tyres – Goodyear G800 Cus­toms – match the spare, with al­most no tread­wear, so they must be the orig­i­nals. You might not ac­tu­ally want to drive on them, es­pe­cially in the wet, but they’re per­fect for con­cours and be­cause the car has been care­fully stored for most of its life there’s no crack­ing ev­i­dent to the rub­ber.

The mo­tor is clean and tidy, with the car­bu­ret­tors still re­tain­ing their yel­low warn­ing tags, green plas­tic float cham­ber over­flow pipes and con­certina in­take duct­ing. It’s just been ser­viced so there’s a new oil fil­ter, and the coolant is full and green. Even the master cylin­ders’ rub­ber gaiters are still sup­ple and un­cracked.

That en­gine starts in­stantly with a shrill rasp from the ex­haust and the car drives as tightly as you’d ex­pect, though the rear brakes feel as if they’re drag­ging through lack of use. The ride is taut, all the con­trols are play-free and over­drive op­er­ates promptly on third and fourth. The mi­nor gauges were in­ter­mit­tent on our test.

Of course, us­ing this car would take away the very ‘new­ness’ that con­fers most of its value. But if you want the per­fect Spit­fire, it’s sold with good his­tory in­clud­ing orig­i­nal books, Su­per Cover wal­let, un­used

Pass­port to Ser­vice book and the orig­i­nal key tag in an en­ve­lope, plus a new MOT.

As close to a new Spit­fire as you’ll get – but you’ll have to do with­out a soft-top

Er­ratic mi­nor gauges only real nig­gle

Orig­i­nal fac­tory stick­ers re­main in place

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