TL;DR Uncut: Triumph Spitfire

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This is TL;DR Uncut, a more detailed review of the title vehicle. For the original TL;DR Review, click here.


I purchased this Spitfire in the Fall of 2014. It had not been driven in almost a decade, so I spent the Winter changing bits and pieces to get it running and road worthy. I enjoyed it for a Summer, and sold it in the Fall of 2015 for $3200, which is about what I had into it.

The first thing that I noticed is how easy it is to find parts for these. Even AutoZone had a lot of the routine maintenance parts. Beyond that, there are quite a few companies that specialize in Triumph, MG, Rover, etc. Stateside there is Engel Imports and Victoria British. For more specialty parts, including any fasteners, Rimmer Bros. in England was very helpful.

Bottom end with oil pan off. One of the strangest crankshaft designs.

Repairs done: clutch master cylinder, brake master cylinder, brake calipers/rotors/pads and drums/shoes, valve cover gasket, oil pan gasket, fan belt, fuel filter, oil change, carburetor, intake manifold and gasket, starter (twice), battery, air filter, plugs and wires, distributor cap and rotor, front bearings, replaced all rubber lines and hoses. It had already been converted to an electric fuel pump.


Repair tips: It is extremely mechanic friendly. Thanks to the way the hood opens, I was able to climb in the engine bay and sit on the tire to work on it. One repair that took longer than expected was the brakes, which have inboard discs and lead to replacing bearings while I had the hubs off.

However, the worst repair by far was the carburetor. In order to take it off, you have to remove the entire intake manifold, which shares a (ratty old) gasket with the exhaust header. There are eight studs to get these manifolds off, two of which are underneath in an area only accessible to contortionists. Once you get the studs off, preferably without breaking any off in the block like I did, you can take the carb off of the intake. At this point, since I am apparently part gorilla, I cracked the old Stromberg carburetor at the screws when trying to open it up.

Manifold removal hell

So, I went with a Weber carb conversion with a new intake manifold. The manifold requires some grinding to fit with the header. And the kit doesn’t really come with the parts you need to re-connect the EGR from the exhaust to the intake, so you’ll have to plug that port with a fine threaded bolt that, I shit you not, is only available as a 1920's Model A oil drain plug. You will also have to put a tee in the coolant lines that doesn’t come with the kit. Replace the intake/exhaust gasket, dislocate your wrist to install all of the studs, and you are pretty much done. A fuel pressure regulator and gauge is recommended.

Engine bay with the new carburetor and intake

Driving Experience: Driving the Spitfire gave me a feeling of pure bliss. It also was probably the sketchiest car I’ve ever driven due to its swing axle design similar to a Corvair and tires the size of a moped. I enjoyed country roads but I rarely got above 55 MPH. It seemed to make other people happy, as well. At the massive Iola Car Show in Iola, Wisconsin, it was one of just a few Triumphs in attendance, and the only Spit. Children gawked at it, women wanted to drive it, and even the men seemed to appreciate the change of pace from row after row of boxy muscle cars. Everyone I drove past smiled. Maybe they were just laughing at a 6'2" guy in an oversized go-kart, but that’s fine. I don’t mind; this car is simply all about the fun. It car will always have a special place in my heart.

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