Budget Vintage Racer: 1968 Triumph Spitfire

s1

Thanks to fellow Barn Finds writer Jeff L. for this great find of an ex-racing Triumph Spitfire! The car is located in Western Massachusetts and is listed for sale here on craigslist for $2,000.

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The engine features twin SU’s and looks like an 1147cc Mk. II engine, or at least I think it has a Mk. II header. If that’s true, it may be a 67 or earlier car like mine. There are only these two pictures to go by, but the faded yellow w/orange stripe and #1 witness marks set off something in my mind. I was lucky enough to meet a true gentleman by the name of Ken Slagle at the 2014 Vintage Triumph Register National Convention, and a good friend of mine owns the two TR8’s that Ken won an SCCA championship with. I know Ken started out racing a TR3 and then graduated into Spitfires, but I couldn’t find a picture online of his early round-tail car, only his later square-tail.

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But look at this picture of his TR8 and wonder. The color scheme and number font do look similar, don’t they? If this does happen to be Ken’s Spitfire (I’ll try to do some more looking), this would be a real piece of history! Even if it isn’t, it sure looks like a good entry into autocross or vintage events, once it’s refurbished a little. I’ll chime in later if I find anything else out! (updated below, it’s not one of Ken’s cars)

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Sadly, I believe, Mr. Spitfire has seen it’s last race. Someone may correct me, but with race tracks closing left and right, you don’t hear much of this kind of racing anymore, like in the ’70’s and ’80’s. Such a shame. Low buck racing was a lot of fun to watch and participate in.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Howard, gotta disagree with you there. Plenty of vintage racing around (admittedly not low-buck), plus ChumpCar, LeMons, WRL, AER, etc. Plus there’s plenty of local SCCA and otherwise autocrossing to do :-)

  2. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    BTW, my friend that currently owns both Slagle TR8’s is checking with Ken about this Spitfire — I’ll report back what he finds.

    • Jeff Staff

      Very cool! And yes, here in New England racing is alive and well. We’ve had 2 new tracks open in the past year in Mass. and New Hampshire! Palmer Motorsports Park is supposed to be an excellent venue for cars like these…

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Ok, we now know it’s not any of Ken’s old cars (darnit). Apparently it did run in SCCA racing in Virginia and Maryland, though.

      • sir mike

        VIR,Summit Point and Marlboro….the good old days of racing.

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Having raced recently at VIR with ChumpCar and at Summit Point with LeMons, I have to agree :-) But I’d argue that as long as you like budget endurance rather than sprint racing, the “good old days” are right now!

      • jim s

        did you leave out the word it’s ” not ” any. i would also include the Cumberland MD airport course in the good old days of racing.

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Thanks, Jim, fixed it.

  3. jim s

    is the photo of the race cars from Summit Point’s pit road? i remember watching him race his spitfire at Summit Point ( i think ) and the Glen ( i know for sure ) because they had the transmission cover off working on the clutch from inside the car. on our car, a midget, we would have to first pull the motor to do the same clutch work. it would be nice to know what happen his spitfires.

    • Jeff Staff

      Very cool that you remember the car, Jim!

      • jim s

        yes his racecars and the group 44 racecars were very well turned out. and really fast. we always tried to get a good look at them to see how they were put together. SCCA production racing was a big deal back then with factory interest.

  4. jim s

    as for this racecar the seller needs to post more photos and maybe do some research into the racing history. still it seems like a good deal. nice find.

  5. Howard A Member

    Ok on the point made about racing, but what about the car. Anybody that would buy this, is going to be on a budget, if any, and quite frankly, I don’t see this particular car turning 1 more lap. Years ago, (when I had my MGB, 70’s, 80’s) there were things called “gymkhana’s” ( do they still have those?) Clubs would rent a parking lot on a Sunday, ( yeah, when stores were closed on Sunday) and set up a pretty big course, and it was run what you brung. It was a gas, and this is exactly the kind of cars that were there. Today, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, it takes a lot of money for ANY kind of racing. You need a legal car (which this would never make it) a truck to schlep a trailer hundreds of miles. I guess people that have money, don’t think about that.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Hi, Howard…yes, they call them autocrosses now, and typically they cost $20 per event (I have run many of them, there are still local clubs out there). Remember, I do race now in LeMons and Chump, and while it’s not THE cheapest racing it’s fairly inexpensive. Our car has a value of less than $500 prior to safety equipment installation, and we race 14-1/2 hours over a weekend. Once you split that between 4 or 5 drivers it becomes reasonable.

      Once the pictured Spitfire had it’s cage checked and probably updated, new safety harness and the typical brakes/fuel system issues with any used car, it would be legal for LeMons. The picture I’ve attached is a Spitfire that has been running successfully in LeMons for several years. It was for sale recently for $1500 (not a typo).

      Not sure where you are, but you are welcome to come to any of the races we run in the Marina and see how much fun we have! Love to have you along!

      • Jeff Staff

        And a further note on this one…I have never trailered a car to an autox. Always used a DD and always got it home in one piece without any extra work needed (well, maybe tires wore down sooner..)

  6. LD71 :D

    Agree plenty of racing esp in Northeast today, but like many things ‘not like the old days’. Ken Slagle was a legend, nice to see him remembered. This Spit is prob long gone , better to start with an easier entry point, when SCCA abandoned the GP class, a # of good opportunities created LD71 :D

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