The story began in 2010, when I returned from a six month sabbatical in the desert with the British Army. I have always liked older cars and had owned a few classics in the past. Well as some will be aware, when you return from one of those sunshine tours, the Army gives you a nice little bonus, not as much as you’d like, but better than nothing. Well, I decided to spend mine on a classic car, (before the lovely wife spent it on something else), and eventually won a rubber bumpered MGB GT on an internet auction site, having lost out on a number of Triumph Spitfires, my preferred choice. To cut a long story short, I restored the MG and, after being somewhat underwhelmed by the driving experience, ended up selling it. This, however, gave me enough money to buy a Triumph Spitfire, not exactly the original plan, but sometimes these things happen.
The Spitfire was designed by Michelotti in 1957 for Standard Triumph, to compete with the newly introduced Austin Healey Sprite. The Sprite used the drive train from the Austin A30/35 in a lightweight body. To keep costs down the Spitfire was designed to utilise the Heraldâ€™s chassis (albeit in a cut down form) along with Herald running gear. Â Sadly Standard Triumph were in financial difficulties and it wasnâ€™t until the company was taken over by Leyland was the forgotten prototype rediscovered and quickly put into production. The Triumph Spitfire was in production from 1962 until 1980 with remarkably few changes over the eighteen years.
While I was based in Germany, I found a Triumph Spitfire 1500 (the fifth and final incarnation of the car) online, that looked good in the pictures and had the bonus of coming with a hardtop. A provisional price was agreed on the phone and I travelled back to the UK with a friend and support car to collect my latest purchase.
The car was advertised boldly as ‘Good condition, Not a restoration project’, but as usual that was being rather economical with the truth. Well, following some mechanical work and despite it leaking coolant from a ‘past its best’ water pump and oil disappearing in any way the car could come up with, it made the trip back to Germany with no real problems.
I then set about pulling it apart and began what was to become a long process, that continues to this day, of restoring and repairing it. Most of the work has been mechanical, replacing many of the long worn out parts, the starter motor, alternator, water pump, carburettor and head gasket to name a few. Naturally, there was the obligatory amount of welding, although the bodywork looks pretty much the same as when I bought it and would benefit from some more work. I also replaced the old soft top with a second hand one and the interior, which currently has a pair of MX5 seats fitted.
Obviously there are still aspects that could be improved and as I have already mentioned. It is an ongoing project and I like to use it as much as possible. While I am aware that it will never win any prizes for looks, I have spent most of my time and available cash sorting out the mechanical issues. I will eventually get the bodywork looking better, but as far as I am concerned, it is for go – not for show!