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Bargain Brit: 1980 Triumph Spitfire

1980 Triumph Spitfire

For only $1,900 or best offer, how could you go wrong? Needing only a battery to be driveable, this last model year Spitfire is for sale here on craigslist in Clinton, Iowa. Featuring a newly rebuilt engine and a replaced fuel tank, and only showing 42,838 miles, this Triumph looks a little too good to be true. I’m currently in the area for business and wish I were here more than one day; I’d be going out to look at this one just because!

1980 Triumph Spitfire Interior

Even the interior doesn’t look too bad. Yes, those door panels have shrunk in the sun, but that’s the original vinyl, and only the center “houndstooth” fabric on the seats have been replaced (which doesn’t surprise me because they usually tore within a year or two). Spitfires already offer the best bang for the buck of any budget sports car, and if the engine really is rebuilt it should last for a good while. And even if it doesn’t, we’re not talking a huge amount of money anyway. Let us know if you buy this one!


  1. Avatar photo jim s

    you should buy it and have the car shipped home. someone needs to save this. interesting find

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  2. Avatar photo Jamie Staff

    Jim, I wish I could save them all :-). Too many projects already. I just had to pass on two that were on my bucket list :-(

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    • Avatar photo jim s

      one drove by me with the top down in the cool morning air today. the driver downshifted, used a handfull of non power steering to make the corner and drove off going up thru the gears. had what looked like a brand new stock muffler/exhaust.

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  3. Avatar photo St.Ramone de V8


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  4. Avatar photo ClassicCarFan

    Does seem like a bit of a bargain if the body is all sound. it looks good from what you can see in the photos but you need to get close up , lift the carpets etc. I’m always a bit wary of the claim “will run- just needs new battery”. That’s a bit like the classic “A/C just needs a charge” which you can invariably assume to mean much more than just a charge.

    Still, if I was going to look at it I’d take along a fully charged spare battery and maybe a can of fresh gas and ask the seller (in advance preferably to be courteous) if we can try to start it up? It doesn’t take two minutes to put a battery on a Spitfire. it’s prefectly credible for a car that was running and has just been standing unused for some time to have a completely flat battery (and maybe slightly dried-out and gummed up carb?) so the claim may well be perfectly true. just make sure it has adeqaute oil and coolant in it, and give it a try !

    Also, FWIW… my local pick’n’pull place sells off half-used batteries for something like 20 bucks. If I was trying to sell a car that just needed a battery, I’d probably get a cheap used battery and see if i could sell it as a “runner”. though I guess sometimes sellers just don’t want to mess with the car and will prefer to sell it “as is” ?

    I’d also say, that fact that it is currently a non-runner would never rule out a Spitfire as a prospect for me because they are so simple and easy/cheap to fix that there isn’t much that could be wrong with it that you could put right (short of a total internal mechanical failure of the engine maybe? and even then it’s so easy to find another spare engine or donor car to make it good). Though obviously if you can’t ascertain if it will actually run then you’re price negotiation can just take that into account.

    1979 and 1980 are about my least favorite years for the federal Spitfire with those nasty big black rubber bumpers, TR7 style steering column and controls, catalytic converter etc. I also prefer the earlier solid vinyl seats coverings to the “houndstooth” pattern on the last cars – though this car doesn’t seem to have the houndstooth covers? (maybe it’s just hard to see in the photos). Still, if this one checks out as sound body-wise, it could be a really good starting point for someone.

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  5. Avatar photo Paul B

    If I were there, I’d buy it and drag it home! You can get almost everything for these and that is one of their beauties, even if the federalized bumpers aren’t: these are accessible, drivable classics that can actually be maintained and enjoyed on the road! Now there is a concept.

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