Last post on Jan 22, 2002 at 8:56 AM
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#39 of 48 Spitfire 1500
Jan 16, 2002 (7:34 am)
I bought a 1977 Spitfire 1500 recently (as addition to my summer daily driver, a 63 TR4). The paint is not good and the canvas is also bad. Otherwise it is OK, 35000 on the clock with factory hardtop, overdrive and rather new tires. I paid $800 for it. I started to rebuild it last week and it is really not a bad car design. I don't understand why the host of this board is so negative about it. The design is light years ahead of my TR4, which I turned into a reliable car that ran 5000 miles this summer without any extra work. I think I can do this with this Spitfire (just have to take care of Lucas) and will have it ready for my son as soon as he gets his drivers license in the fall.
Jan 16, 2002 (8:30 am)
Well, don't take it personally. You just buy what you like and don't worry about what the Host says. My comments are meant to reflect upon the historical record and get that straight, not to bash the car.
Here is perhaps a more considered and historical view of the car, quoted from the "TRiumph Buyer's Guide", written by Triumph guru Richard Newton:
"The 1500 Spitfire was really a patchwork response to American emission and safety standards. When the Spitfire 1500 was new it was unreliable, poorly assembled and started to rust the second week you owned the car. Leyland had given up on the Spitfire. The 1500 changed only in response to the laws, not the marketplace. There was no effort to make the Spitfire a better car".
I think what he's saying here, and what I agree with, is that while the 1500 is a more comfortable and better handling car than the old Mark 1s, it is not a faster, or better, or more fun car. In other words, the Spitfire evolved, but its evolution was not aimed at improvement, just low level surivival. I mean, what other company can put in a much larger engine and end up with less HP as a result? It's kind of sad really.
Then again, you should be glad for the bad reputation. How else could you have bought this car for only $800. You wouldn't get a TR6 for that.
#41 of 48 Mr._Shiftright
Jan 19, 2002 (4:48 am)
Who would want a TR6 if one has a 4? In that case one might as well buy a Miata, what's the difference?
Jan 19, 2002 (10:17 am)
Well, the TR4 is more fun to drive, that's true, but the TR6 is no Miata. The TR6 is often called "a man's car", and there is truth in that. It has the same typical British car "dog cart" suspension of the times (stiff, harsh but competent and fun) and a very nose heavy feel. A Miata feels like a car built by an advanced civilization of hi-tech aliens in comparison.
My favorite is really the TR250, which has the TR4 body and the TR6 engine. I drove one for about a year. Had all kinds of trouble with it and loved it anyway.
When I lived in Manhattan, I had a Morgan +4 and my friend Arthur had an early Spitfire. We raced all around the Big Apple, and I always beat him up badly with the Moggie. And sometimes towed him home, too. His revenge was listening to me bemoan the teeth-crashing ride I had to live with.
Jan 21, 2002 (10:33 am)
My TR3 was a real driving adventure.
TR3 drivers were at one with the elements. The ragtop leaked where it snapped to the windscreen and the aerodynamics of the car tended to pull the sidescreens out about an inch or so when you drove over 40 mph. I once drove to a friend's house in a heavy rainstorm. He asked if I swam there.
The TR3 had some unique (some would say terrifying) handling characteristics. The chassis ran beneath the rear axle. The body roll in a fast turn would lift the inside rear wheel. Once you got used to it you'd just keep your foot on the gas and steer into the skid.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. the (optional) heater kept your right knee nice and warm (left knee for RHD cars) while the rest of you froze.
God those cars were fun.
Jan 21, 2002 (10:47 am)
The TR3 is a tough car to restore because it is very difficult to get the whole thing to bolt up right and look good.
It was a simple, rugged car, but pretty basic and pretty brutal.
The "rule" was that Triumphs were faster but MGs much more civilized, attractive and well-built. I think that generally that was very true, even later on.
Jan 21, 2002 (1:43 pm)
The TR3 would blow the doors off an an MG. IIRC the MGs had a 1600cc engine, the TR3 was 1991cc. The same engine was ised in the TR4 & TR4A. The later ones were 2138cc.
Jan 21, 2002 (2:17 pm)
Yep. My Morgan was Triumph powered and the Spitfire never had a chance.
#47 of 48 TR4 vs Spitfire
Jan 22, 2002 (6:35 am)
I have to agree, my TR4 is definitely faster than my spit (I have the BIG engine in the TR4). But the Spit out corners the TR4 any day. Go on a flat, very curvy road and the Spit outruns the
TR4 ( I can say that since I drive both cars), and the canvas of the Spit is almost rain tight, the TR4 just looks tight but is not much better than the TR3. But I prefer the TR4 over the Spit for the fun of driving.
Jan 22, 2002 (8:56 am)
Early Spits can get very funny in the corners. Their IRS is not very good, as the inside wheel will tuck and scare the bejeezus out of you. Of course you have to be "on the ragged edge" in the corners for this to happen. I remember it not being a very pleasant experience.
The Mk2 is a better car than either the 1 or the 3 or 4 in my opinion. It's the one I would buy. Good rugged engine, (you can even find an overdrive!) and you can even race 'em with the right mods.