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Family Heirloom: 1975 Triumph Spitfire

1975 Triumph Spitfire Front

We all dream of finding a super rare and valuable car hidden away in a barn. It might be a car that you’ve been dreaming of since you were a kid and you might even still have a poster of it on your wall. But just like when we were teens, finding just about any sports car in a barn brings a smile to our faces. Part of the excitement of a barn find is unraveling the history behind the car. The Triumph Spitfire isn’t a valuable or rare sports car, but it is a fun example of the great British roadsters. For reader Paul B, this 1975 Triumph Spitfire is special because of its history and connection to him and his family.

1975 Triumph Spitfire Side View

This Spitfire was purchased by his Father-in-law when new and was driven not only by him, but also by Paul’s wife when she was in high school. The car was parked in 1981 and rested there until just recently, when his Father-in-law finally gave in and let him have it. Paul rented a trailer and made the 270 mile drive to unearth the car. Once he got it home he began the process of bring this British classic back to life. Thankfully these cars are fairly simple and the 1,493 cc straight 4 is easy to work on. Sadly, the 1500 was hampered by emission equipment and only produced about 53 horsepower. Luckily, the Spitfire it is also small and only weights 1,750 lbs.

1975 Triumph Spitfire Interior

The car is in good condition, but it should be considering it has only covered 35,000 documented miles. The body has its fair share of dents and dings, but as Paul puts it, “Every little ding on the car has a story behind it from my brother-in-laws.” We are sure seeing this car running again will bring back great memories for all his in-laws. Besides getting it running, he also plans to repaint it Tahiti Blue, which is a bit darker than the original blue. He  figures it needs to look good, since his 15 year old daughter will be driving this car when she turns 16. We would like to thank Paul for sharing his find with us and we hope he will keep us updated on his progress. Do you have a barn or garage find with a cool story behind it? We would love to hear about it! Send photos and information about your find to mail@barnfinds.com


  1. Seth

    had a 76 TR7 that was a blast to drive. It’s 4 cyl was quieter at 80 than 55.time to see if you need all that emissions equipment to pass inspection now

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  2. J. Pickett

    I have a 75 Spit myself. It is a hoot to drive, parts are readily available and not too expensive. It should be easy to return it to service. As long as it is as rust free as it loooks. Mine was painted red before I bought it. but there is a remnant of that blue on the underside of the decklid. The interior looks very good, except maybe the rugs. top looks salvageable. You can clean that rear window up with some elbow grease. The shift know seems to have an overdrive switch that’s a big plus.

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  3. Lon Lofgren

    This would be a blast if I wasn’t 6’3″ and not limber AT ALL! The last time I got into a British roadster with the top up, I had to roll out onto the pavement and then use the car to stand up!

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  4. J. Pickett

    When I was in college and 90 lbs. lighter I was comfortable in a Midget, Now I have a hard time getting in and out of the Spitfire. Unfortunately bad back, bad leg and big tummy may force me to sell it. But once in it is still a hoot to drive on the open road. Also size usually limits my driving to sunny days, The top scrapes my bald spot when mounting or dismounting.

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  5. fred hunt

    I helped a friend tinker with one years ago. Engine work was a lot easier because the entire front end lifts up a la XKE making the engine totally accessible. Saves a lot of busted knuckles

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  6. Richard Walter

    I had a 1975 1500 Spitfire from new. I used it as a commuter from 75 – 77. My experiences, electronic ignition would “crap out” in the summer when underhood temperatures got high, roll to the side of the road, wait 15 minutes , continue on your way. Rear u-joints wore out (had no lube fittings) a pain to replace. Transmission had a recurring fault, some plastic part in the shift mechanicals would break. replaced several times. 55,000 miles in two years, sold it for $1000 less that I paid for it ($3300. new). A good example of the British car experience back in the day. The Triumph Spitfire 1500 not one of Triumph’s greatest moments!

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  7. J. Pickett

    When I bought my ’65 Midget in 68, I had been reading magazines for over ten years. I did not expect absolute reliability. Biggest failure was a rear spring over a pothole. That and I had to carry a can of wd40 for the occasional puddle. Trust the Brits to put the distributor on the A series bmc engine on the bottom. It does rain over there. It was the last year of the take apart and put into the trunk roof. The Spitfire thank heaven is a toy. The cooling problems-new larger radiator and electric fan. Drivability was much improved when I figured out that the previous owner had no experience with carburators and had set it extremely rich because he didn’t know what a choke was and had tied off the manual choke. (weber conversion). He had put a new top, new interior (complete) new top boot, and the Weber kit on but sold cheap as he couldn’t make it run right. One hint was his starting procedure the second was backing off on my way home to ramp from one interstate too another caused such a backfire that it blew the muffler off. Found mixture screw 7 turns out.

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  8. Will

    Very sweet car. For the life of me I can not imagine why someone would change the color and then turn a teenager loose in it. the car is meant to be owned by someone who loves to wrench on it every weekend. I would love to have it but would never let a teenager near it. And the paint should stay original. At least until after the teen has trashed it and it needs redone.

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  9. J. Pickett

    I agree leave it blue. Someone had already painted mine sell me red when I bought it. I would rather have the original color.

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  10. paul

    You would have to know my daughter. It wont be trashed. It will be left blue. Just a tad darker. As far as the mechanics I went back to a points distributer to replace the dead primitive electronic dizzy. Will install a pertronics conversion at a later date.

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  11. Harland

    New drivers will always wreck cars, because they have no experience driving. Moreover, this car lacks modern safety equipment. Not good for a teen. Give her an old hunk of junk and save this car for her 25th birthday.

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  12. Lon Lofgren

    Not all new drivers wreck cars. My first accident happened when I was 25, and it was because a mom with 3 kids in a station wagon pulled out in front of me, totally her fault. On the up-side, with a 2-seater, she won’t be driving around with a large group of her friends. I think, as long as it can be kept running and fairly reliable, this would be the perfect car for her! Just make sure it’s got fresh seatbelts and she should be fine!

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  13. J. Pickett

    Kind of hard to text or make cell calls while driving a Spit. A definite safety factor. Also she won’t get such an I’m invincible feeling as she would in a civolla.

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  14. T.Ward

    These were fun little cars to drive. My question is…Where’s the hardtop? If my memory is right the spit came with a hardtop unless that was an option

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  15. J. Pickett

    The hardtop was for the time an expensive option.

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  16. paul

    I scored a hard top for it a few months ago but thats another resto project its self

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  17. T. Moss

    Purchased one on ebay last year with 14,700 original miles from second owner. I have kept it close to original as possible. The paint still shines and interior like new. Fun to drive and a real attention getter. I call her the poor mans sportscar. I agree, not the car for a teen driver.

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  18. B. Wasinger

    I bought a barn find myself. A California car with 38k. I have taken every nut and bolt off and brought it back to better than new condition. Check out my website for pictures. http://www.triumphspitfire2011.comWork in progress. Can’t wait til spring. Love my Spitty!

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  19. paul

    great job !

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  20. J. Pickett

    Mine is far from mint, but a good ten foot driver, but it sure is fun for the money. I got a good deal because the last owner, one of many, sunk new top, boot, and complete interior plus many dollars in stereo which we never use, but he had no idea how to set up a Weber, Cranking the mixture up does not excuse disconnecting the choke. It ran so rich I blew the muffler off on the way home.

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