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