Triumph Spitfire (1962 – 1980) Review

Triumph Spitfire (1962 – 1980) At A Glance


+Sweet to drive, fun and good value for money, with brilliant club and specialist back-up

-A bit fragile, and a clean body can hide lots of below-the-surface corrosion

The Triumph Spitfire came about as a direct response to the release of the Austin-Healey Sprite (and subsequently MG Midget). Just as with the the TRs before it, Triumph found itself playing catch-up to Abingdon, and ended up producing a sports car to answer its rival, but which eventually improved on it in many significant ways. The Spitfire was underpinned by a Herald-style separate chassis, and was powered by the same family of engines.

But it was a lovely-looking sports car, with Michelotti-penned styling and a closely-cropped interior for two. Fun to drive, and somehow more appealing than the MG Midget, the Spitfire ended up outliving itse deadly rival by a year, making it to 1980. Today, the Spitfire remains cheap and plentiful, meaning they're easy to keep on the road thanks to near-total parts supply, but low values often mean full restorations are a matter of the heart, not the head. And these are the cars to buy.

Ask Honest John

How complicated is it to export a British car from the UK to France?

"My brother who is French and lives in France would like to buy a right-hand drive classic car. He is torn between a Triumph Spitfire and a Healey Frogeye. Which one would be more reliable - he can spend a maximum of £25000. How complicated is it to export a British car from the UK to France?"
Both are fantastic models. I'd recommend he drives both to see which he prefers. Personally, we'd take the 'Frogeye' but the Spitfire is marginally easier to work on. Both have pretty good parts availability. As for reliability - by this point in its life, a car is really only as reliable as it's previous owner. If it's been looked after, regularly serviced and looked after, any classic will prove a reliable friend. But please do remember that these are old cars - as such they're not quite designed for the rigours of modern motoring and their parts are getting worn out and will need replacing. It's not that complicated to export a car from the UK to France, but it's always worth doing your research and talking to people who have done it to find out what issues they experienced. As for what impact a 'no deal' Brexit would have on this process, we'll have to wait and see...
Answered by Keith Moody

What's the best thing to do with my old Triumph Spitfire?

"I have had a 1976 Triumph Spitfire 1500 for nearly 40 years, but for over 35 of those it hasn’t been used. It had an engine rebuild many years ago and was last started and driven from one storage garage to another four years ago. Circumstances and the death of my partner means that it now has to go. I’m not sure how or where to sell it. Do I sell it as a project (not really sure what that entails) or as a complete car in need of restoration or for spares or repairs?"
I'm sorry to hear about the death of your partner. Triumph Spitfires are tough little cars, although like any classic they suffer if neglected. The good news is that mechanically they're very tough - so one of the biggest factors that will determine price will be the condition of the bodywork. Just to give you an idea of value, one of the very best examples of these on sale at a dealer's would be priced at around £8500, while a similar example for sale privately might be up for £6000. A car that's running but in need of some TLC would be about £2500 while a project that's been off the road for a number of years will be about £1200. I imagine that your car will be somewhere in between the lower two values, depending on the bodywork. In terms of how to sell it, you've got several options. If you want to minimise hassle, then selling the car at auction is probably the way to go - but be mindful that the price you sell it for will likely be lower and there will be additional fees to pay. If you want to get the most money then selling the car privately will be the way to go - but you will have to deal with all the hassle of writing an advert, taking pictures, uploading it to various sites or sending it to magazines and - of course - dealing with inquiries.
Answered by Keith Moody

When can I apply for my Triumph Spitfire to have historic vehicle status?

"I own a Triumph Spitfire that's just over 40 years old, registered on 14 February 1978. When do I apply for Historic status, now or after 21 May 2018? "
The tax exemption for historic vehicles is on a rolling system. So, from April 2018 cars built before 1 January, 1978, vehicles will become tax exempt. So in order to qualify for the exemption, you'll need to get a build certificate to prove the car was built before January 1, 1978. Once you've got that, you can apply for historic tax class from 1 April.
Answered by Keith Moody

Should I wait to get my 1971 Spitfire MoT'd?

"I have a 1971 Spitfire IV on which the MoT expires in February, but which is currently garaged over winter. The tax runs to 1st May (its £0 now). Shall I wait until the new MoT exemption rules come in May then tax it without an MoT certificate? Do I need to SORN in the meantime?"
Personally, we'd always get a classic MoT'd for peace of mind. If you decide not to MoT, you'll miss a lot of the good weather, the shows, and the events - which is a big part of owning an old car. There's bound to be some kinks to iron out in the system, so if you really don't want to MoT it, you could wait until next year. Remember though that even though your car will be MoT exempt, you still have a responsibility to keep it roadworthy - otherwise your insurance will be invalidated. Check the fine print of your insurance, too, sometimes not having an MoT can mean your vehicle is no longer insured. If you cancel your insurance, you'll need to declare SORN.
Answered by Keith Moody
More Questions

What does a Triumph Spitfire (1962 – 1980) cost?