Triumph Spitfire Sports Car

Triumph Spitfire

The Triumph Spitfire was built in five versions over an eighteen-year period, with over 300,000 being made in total. It was another Triumph sports car designed by Giovanni Michelotti and was announced to the public in October 1962 with a price of £730. A heater cost extra. It came with a twin-carb version of the Triumph Herald's 1147cc four-cylinder engine giving a 90mph top speed and 0-60mph in around 15 seconds. It had a four-speed 'box with overdrive which allowed it to average close on 40mpg. It was endowed with a great turning circle of only 25ft thus giving it great manoeuvrability in town for parking.

It became the Spitfire Mk ll in 1965 with a minor power upgrade form 63bhp to 67bhp (DIN figures, not SAE).

Spitfire Mklll

By 1967 safety legislation in America was beginning to make itself felt and the Mk lll version of the Triumph sports car had a face lift to raise its bumper height to comply. The engine was also taken out to 1296cc with anew cylinder head and another small gain in power to 75bhp.

By 1967 100,000 Spitfires had being built in only five years. Price was now £717 new compared to the MG Midget, always its main competitor, at £684. However, the Spitfire had the advantage of a more spacious interior and was a little faster.

The 1970 Mk lv version of the Triumph sports car had a more pronounced facelift, again by Michelotti, and again a la the Triumph TR6 only the front and rear sections were changed. This version was 4in longer than the old model and had much improved rear suspension. This answered the major criticism of the early models wayward handling when pushed towards its limits. Unfortunately it also lost a chunk of power and the UK spec models now only had 63 bhp so performance was noticeably worse than the previous model.

In America things were even worse. Ever-tightening emission regulations had cut power progressively over the years so that by 1971 the Triumph Spitfire only had 58 bhp on single carburettor, and by 1972 that was down to 48 bhp. So Triumph used the stretched version of the 1296cc that they had in the Dolomite 1500 saloon and gave the Spitfire a new 1493cc engine in 1973. This 1500 engine remained exclusive to the North American markets until 1974, but still only took it back to 57 bhp. It was a Triumph sports car in name only, with the performance leaving more than a little to be desired.

Rear suspension was again improved in 1973 with the rear track widened by 2 in and the camber reduced.

Triumph Spitfire 1500 by Arnaud 25 on wikimedia Commons.
Triumph Spitfire 1500 by Arnaud 25 on wikimedia Commons.

Triumph Spitfire 1500

By 1975 performance was looking decidedly sluggish in the UK market so the Triumph Spitfire 1500 was introduced with 71 bhp. This was the same engine the Triumph sports car's competitor the MG Midget was now using as they were all now owned by British Leyland. Road tests generally praised the improved handling and performance was back where it had pretty much begun with the new 1500 engine, except for worse fuel consumption. There were minor trim changes in 1977 but for non-US cars the Spitfire 1500 continued to its demise in 1980 largely unchanged.

Bumpers on US cars continued to grow to meet tightening safety legislation, adding size and weight. By the time production finished the Triumph Spitfire weighed over 20% more than the original 1962 car.

The summer of 1980 saw the demise of the Triumph sports car, the Spitfire, after 314,342 cars had being built with 77% going to export.

Triumph Spitfire 1500

Triumph Spitfire by LSDSL on Wikimedia Commons. CC-A-SA-2.0.
Triumph Spitfire by LSDSL on Wikimedia Commons. CC-A-SA-2.0.

Triumph Spitfire Commercial

Other old stuff

If you happen to be in to the 'old stuff' in general feel free to take a look at my Old Time Radio Programs hub that I have done here on HubPages, as well. It has links to the Internet Archive where you can download many classic comedy radio shows of the past for free (and quite a few TV shows and some old movies).

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