Another Nice One: $3,500 Triumph Spitfire

I’m sure some of you get tired of me posting about bargain Triumphs. Please move on to the next post–thank you, thank you, bargain coming through! Perhaps I’m alone in my appreciation of what I believe is the most bang-for-the-buck classic sports car there is (although if you consider early Miatas classics, you probably have me there). This one is up for sale here on eBay with a $3,500 buy it now price and the seller even welcomes lower offers. It’s located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The seller states that the car has undergone “extensive renovation to make it a nice daily driver.” I can believe it after looking over the pictures. I’m assuming a repaint, although this is a factory color (Vermillion Red). The top and windows look nice, as does the chrome–at least at a distance.

I did my daily commute in Spitfires of various vintage for more than 20 years. They actually have a quite usable trunk space. It’s nice to see the weatherstripping looking supple, although we don’t know if it’s new or replaced. According to the seller it only has 56,548 miles, so it must have been a toy most of it’s life. I will note there that the seller bothered to replace the “Unleaded Fuel Only” decal during any repaint (the yellow rectangle visible near the top of this picture) and the factory stripes, so I’m impressed with the eye for detail based on the pictures.

While it would be nice to have overdrive, I’m again impressed with the interior condition. The seats have certainly been reupholstered, and I’d say it’s a major improvement over the factory houndstooth cloth that was usually worn out in the first two years. It’s interesting that they have replaced the factory steering wheel with one from a Triumph TR7, presumably to get the center padded wheel.

The engine looks dead stock apart from removal of the air pump, air cleaner extension, air pump and some of the cardboard (!) side panels (it looks like fabricated metal ones have been added in front). The valve cover really was that color from new, it just happens to match the car! I can promise you that if this one were close, I’d be going to look. Any of you still reading? Humor me and let me know in the comments!



  1. EZRider

    Keep posting these Jamie! One of these days I’ll be in a position to bring one home.

  2. Adam T45 Staff

    Don’t feel the need to apologise Jamie. I don’t blame you for liking this one so much. It’s a lovely little car, and I’d seriously love it except for the fact that there are 12,000 miles between it and me! The only changes that I’d make would be to replace the steering wheel, and in Australia we could legally remove those bumper over-riders. Otherwise, I love it!

  3. daniel wright

    I don’t know if they sold many of these in Oklahoma. But by the time I was a teenager and interested in cars in the early 1990s the few that were around were really roached out.

  4. Peter Reed

    This truly seems like a bargain, especially if there is no hidden rust. Always loved the shape of these little Spitfires; much better looking than the MGB. If I lived in the US, I’d BUY IT NOW!

  5. duke

    thats a TR7 steering wheel- the deals from the truck/boot lid are gone along with the hood/bonnet decals are also gone—respray ? maybe?….the seats from my British memory never had a cloth insert that i can remember either-the valve covers i remember being either blue or black…..however im all working from my London fog memory…..still, this does look rather nice example- all i would do to this is put on twin SU carbs from the UK and make this breathe again….all else looks tidy and proper

    • Jeff G

      The houndstooth is a cloth insert available I believe in beige or black. I reupholstered mine which had beige houndstooth in a black cloth. Much more durable. The orange valve cover is the factory color. Mine was this color originally on my ’79. I do agree with the twin 1 1/2 SU’s though. One of the first things I did.

  6. 86 Vette Convertible

    That looks a whole lot better than the one I owned. I had a 67 that I drove the last of the time I had in college. I drove that thing summer or winter, rain or shine. It was pretty beat up when I got it and took some repairs to get it working. Problem I had was it had no heat when it was -20 out in the middle of winter but once spring came on, so did the heat.

    I think this one would have been a lot better driving those 20+ miles each way to College and looked a lot better to boot.

  7. Kurt Krauss

    Very nice. Keep them coming. I own a 32k mile all original 1980 that was built 4 months before production ended. It has the big plastic bumpers (which I actually like) and even without overdrive, it drives great at lower highway speeds (55-60). The Spitty is an example of it being more fun to drive slowly than quickly. They are fun little cars that can accommodate tall people and are easy to get parts for. At that price point, lots can be done to improve it physically too.

  8. Howard A Member

    No air pump in California??? For shame. Keep ’em coming, Jamie, one of these days,,, matter of fact, I (we) kind of expect this from you. Very nice Spitfire, but as you can see, the nicer they are, the more the price (duh), compared to the white one on blocks, a while back. ( which, for a grand, I STILL say, you couldn’t go wrong for a parts car, and there’s your O/D) Probably, the most popular British roadster at the time. ( whispering,,,there’s as nice cheaper Spitfires around,,,BF’s Spitfire, was one)

  9. Bingo

    I love it, but too far away for me.

    Potential buyers please take note that in the upper left corner of picture #4 there appears to be a couple of paint cans in the shot. One of them looks like a match to the body. A quick touch up for the camera?

    Also, picture #5 shows the garage stall that is was most likely sitting in. There is some sort of mat affixed to the floor near the back of the garage. Maybe to absorb a leak?

    But hey, for $3,500, big deal. Minor issues maybe.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Not sure about the paint, but it is British so there’s a good chance there’s a little leak or two.

    • Tom S.

      This looks like an OK car, but the gallon bottles of oil and anti-freeze in the trunk aren’t very reassuring and may have something to do w/that drip mat.

      Jamie, Keep listing all the Triumphs, MGs, etc., that you wish. I love ’em.

  10. Ben T. Spanner

    I live in Southwest Florida. There are lots of Spitfires on Craigslist. $4000 will buy you a nice one. Look at the Treasure Coast listings. A 1977 with overdrive and lots of updates. Around here Spitfires seem to be more plentiful and cheaper than MGB’s

    I had 2 as daily drivers. Lots of room for a small car. At the moment, they seem to be bargains.

  11. ClassicCarFan

    I’m OK with seeing plenty of Spitfires Jamie. There’s a lot of snobbery about them from some classic enthusiasts but I think they are one of the best classic cars you could buy if you are actually interested in doing your own restoration work and enjoying driving the car (rather than just polishing it and trailering it to shows). I’m biased, having owned, restored and driven one – but I think you’d struggle to find a classic 2-seat sports car that’s more fun per dollar.

    This one seems in pretty decent driver condition. If the body is fundamentally sound then that is always the best starting place, as others have said. I think you could buy a Spitfire in this condition a little cheaper maybe, but the price is in the right ballpark.

    I’d also want an over-drive if possible but I know a relatively small percentage of Spitfires in the US came with one. Worth effort of tracking one down and retrofitting.

    Although some Spitfire fans insist the Mk1, II, III cars are more attractive in a Spartan, vintage kind of way, I quite like the MkIV, 1500 body style. I think my favorite years are from 1973 – 1976 when they gained the 1500 engine but before they progressively added all the heavy bumpers, TR7-type steering column and a extra safety lights and buzzers !

    I agree with Duke, I’d substitute real twin SUs like the “rest-of-the-world” market always had on these cars. That is part of the trick to restore better performance, the two other key changes are to fit the flat top pistons to bring the compression up to 9.0:1 and get the earlier cam profile. Canley classics in England can supply a camshaft to fit these later engines but ground with the “Mk III” spitfire profile. The cams fitted to the US cars were made much softer with less overlap around 1971, to meet emissions requirements. Those changes would bring the car up to roughly the non-federal spec – which was 71 bhp (net) rather than about 53 bhp (I think ?) for the federal engine in 1978.

    And there’s a lot more you can do to get decent power out of these engines while still keeping them reliable and perfectly driveable. Mine had K&N filters, tubular steel headers, electronic ignition, a more free-flowing exhaust system, and the one thing that made the most difference….a professional head job, 3-angle valve seat cut, blending the ports in properly, and cleaning up around the valve pockets. That work really made big difference to the way the engine performed. I think that engine probably ended up being around 90 – 95 bhp. Yes, I know that’s not going to scare any muscle cars on the drag strip, but in a car that small and light it was a lot of fun to drive.

  12. Jose Cantu

    If I lived in Oklahoma, it’s be mine this afternoon. Nice looking little car, and the interior is just great.

  13. Chris in Nashville

    Love the Triumphs! Really wish I had kept mine!

  14. Jay

    Keep it up. Waiting for one near me.

  15. Glenn hallett

    Keep posting them… maybe you’ll post a mk1 or 2 one day :)

  16. ccrvtt

    I’m not a big fan of Spitfires but this one is sweet. At $3,500 it’s a bargain. Where else could you get that much fun for that price? I mean legally…

  17. john C

    76 folks watching on ebay at 9pm… nice looking car to enjoy here in the south!!

  18. landt

    Among authentic British roadsters, the Spitfire is overlooked and under-appreciated. Underpowered, too, but what wasn’t underpowered by 1980? I drove one through college. It broke down every quarter: multiple alternators, two clutches, two clutch masters, timing chain tensioner, valves, carb, welds broke on the swaybar mount. But it was fun, relatively economical . . . and full of panache. Very small Michelin XZX tires must be the bargain of the century.

    The overdrive is nice to have, but who drives these long distances?

    As for styling, compare fellow Brit, MG; after the similarly sensuous & swoopy MGA, *this* is what MGB should have looked like, instead of that lumpy soap bar they went with.

    Made a profit on it when I sold it, too.

  19. David Miraglia

    good alternative to that gorgeous E type…. I I had the cash I’d snap her up…

  20. Paul B

    I love Spitfires! Thanks for posting them! Where else can you get a tiny roadster with a big trunk, Michelotti styling, comfort and sporty handling for an affordable price? And it’s rarely a major expedition to find functional parts. Works for me. If I didn’t have one of the above-mentioned old Miatas — also bought for cheap — I’d give serious thought to buying this Spitfire.

  21. Randy V from the Northern/Lower

    I also like these little cars and remember the nice summer days when they pulled into the filling station and it did not take to long to fill them up.
    There is a Question l would like to ask and Not to sound to dumb. But did this company have any thing with the motorcycle ? Or the motorcycle have some thing to do with this car ?
    Sorry if it is a dumb Question ?? but you do not ask,, you will not ever know about this, or any other Question you or l might want to know !!! Thanks so much….

  22. ClassicCarFan

    Hi Randy V from the Northern/Lower
    Not a dumb question at all…. Yes, they are connected. The Triumph Motorcycle company came first, actually, strictly speaking there were Triumph brand bicycles first and then eventually motorcycles. They started to diversify into making cars in 1923 and finally split into two separate companies along the way.

    The other quirk in the story is that Triumph cars had pretty much gone bankrupt and ceased to exist when the company and the name was bought out by the much more larger and more profitable Standard car company and they became Standard-Triumph. Eventually the Triumph name was seen as more successful and the Standard name was dropped completely.

  23. roundhouse

    Keep posting these. They are a great way to get into collector cars. Maybe find one closer to Michigan next time.

  24. rick

    the spitfire although not a rare car- is more rare than an mgb. over half a million mgb’s were made. 314000 spits were made. to me the spitfire is a much nicer looking car than the mgb. of course the spit is italian designed. spit also has a good racing history in europe and is one of the winingest (is that a word?) cars in the usa SCCA in it’s class. it really should be worth more than an mgb. it’s ironic the spitfire has more legroom than the TR6. damn i’m gonna buy one.

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