Delightful! 1978 Triumph Spitfire

There’s no such thing as a trouble-free British sports car. However, late Spitfires as this 1978 model reflect many of the genuine improvements (yes, there were some) that make this tiny sportster a delight to drive. This particular one is listed for sale here on eBay and is located in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. If you are worried about the hood alignment, don’t be, the bonnet has been closed without latching it properly (or it can be easily realigned with a couple of bolts). There’s a buy it now price of $6,200 but the seller is interested in offers as well.

Neither the British flag nor the pinstripe was factory equipment, but the seller tells us they are attached to a rust-free body and that the car has been garaged inside since 2011 — but that it’s only been driven once in the last three years. What a shame! That’s the factory steel hardtop which truly transforms the car into a snug little coupe if it’s installed correctly.

A commission number (think VIN) of FM77686U means that means this is one of the last 1978 model cars. The paint looks nice and shiny!

The interior has undergone some changes, with a replacement carpet kit, what look to be Miata seats, and a replacement wooden dashboard (or at least a re-veneering). One great thing we can see from here is the sliding switch on top of the gearshift knob that engages the Laycock overdrive — something that makes the car much more palatable for highway journeys.

Under the hood, apart from the firewall being painted black (commonly done) it’s surprisingly stock, down to the original air cleaner housing and single CD150 Stromberg carburetor. The seller tells us the car has only covered 83,884 miles and I can easily believe that looking at its condition. There aren’t many less-expensive ways to get into a drivable classic British sports car. I’ve owned more than 15 Spitfires and currently have three in the family, so I don’t need another one. Are any of you interested in this gem?

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  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Had two of these at two different times in my younger days-a ‘74 in BRG with the overdrive and years later a ‘76, both with the “electric” overdrive. Both required constant attention to the needle bearings in the rear swingarm CV joints, but what a blast to drive.
    Never could get the top sealed though where it meets the windshield frame and latches down-it sprayed me right in the face when it rained!

  2. Howard A Member

    You know, I’d have thought so before actually test driving one. While the hardtop and O/D are worthy options, I think most, like me, would be surprised how cheap a car it really is. Don’t get me wrong, Triumph makes some nice cars, this isn’t one of them. It was tinny, gutless, hood shook, most of the controls were either frozen or broke, rear suspension, a constant headache, just a poor car, sorry. Heck, I’d take a TR7 over a Spitfire for half the price, or even a MGB, which is a much nicer car, trust me.

    • jamie Jamie Palmer Staff

      I wish you were closer, Howard :-) I’d love to take you to lunch sometime in either of our Spitfires and try to change your mind! But I know we are both entitled to our opinions!

  3. JOHN

    I always liked how good the factory hardtop looked on these. Lose the crash bumper blocks and this would be a nice looking car.

    • Kuzspike

      I think those crash bumpers cover the hinges that allow the hood to tilt forward, so I’ve been told.

      • JOHN

        The early Spitfires used a different hinge and mounting, there were no giant rubber blocks on the front. At some point, they changed some stuff and moved the hinges further out, and these did cover them, you are correct!

  4. Steve Bush

    Howard A, great comments. Apparently, you didn’t think much of this or the1962 Falcon Ranchero. I agree, neither is a particularly good car in anything close to stock form. Although I don’t always agree with you, I feel you’re one of the more knowledgeable and interesting commenters on this site.

    • Howard A Member

      Thanks Steve, at 65 years old, you can’t help but know these things. Seen a lot of vehicles in my day. And I welcome any disagreement. You aren’t done learning until they throw dirt on you. I try to remain as positive as I can. I realize, some cars I don’t care for are someone else’s pride and joy and that’s cool.

  5. SMDA

    Great fun car but I recall a friend who had one, always seemed to leak oil on on his garage floor. Love the shape, and they make a nice sound out the tail pipe.

  6. Jim C

    Had a 1980 Spitfire back in the day. It was my very first NEW car! While I loved it, I can say that it was far from a good car. The car frequently had carburetor issues, the insulation between the hot engine and the passenger compartment was non-existent, and it had extremely fragile rear axles (I bent one just by running into a curb!). That said, it was a riot to drive and I liked that it wasn’t refined like other cars of the period.

  7. Del

    Fun cars but small and top in fouth will get you up to 58 MPH in 120 seconds

  8. jimmy the orphan

    I knew a girl in 76′ that had one like this but it was a coupe, it wasn’t new but I think it had a 6 in it ? She had it in the shop all the time. You guy’s know more about these than I do. Later………………………………..JIMMY

    • JOHN

      Correct. The coupe was the GT6+ 6 cylinder.

  9. Park

    Had two Sprites. Totally trouble free from beginning to end.

    One was a 1960 and the other a 1962. Never an issue, nothing ever broke down. EVER!

    And they weren’t over restored trailer queens either. Both original cars and easy to maintain.

    Can’t ever figure peoples issues with British cats. I’ve owned a LOT of Brit cars and never had an breakdown or problem with any of them.


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