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Gone Green: 1974 Triumph Spitfire 1500

This Spitfire was donated to the museum and is for sale on their website for $3,000. It looks pretty nice but has the usual issues from sitting and the some of the restoration work was done poorly. There are a few bubbles in the paint. There are pictures of them for your viewing pleasure. However, there’s no apparent rust and the underside is rust free. The top was done very poorly and needs to be replaced, but hey it’s a Spitfire.

The seat covers and door panels are usable but not wonderful. The dash looks good but has had a couple of extra holes where switches have been added. There are a lot of wires hanging under the dash that need to be sorted and stashed.

Things are tidy and fairly clean under the hood. It runs but the clutch doesn’t work and it needs a battery. It sounds like the right front wheel needs a bearing. Perhaps one of the switches added is for that electric fan.

The underside is really clean. I can’t find rust anywhere, but perhaps someone might suggest somewhere else I should look? Could all that overspray as well as the bubbles be an indication of poor quality paint work?

With all the work this car needs, what do you think it might be worth as it is? The average resale value is said to be about $6,000, although running cars have sold on eBay recently for $4,000 to $5,000. For once there are fewer unknowns, at least about the body, because I can have another look and take more pictures if necessary. It’s not convertible weather, but perhaps this could be a good winter project for the right price. I look forward to seeing the comments on this Spitfire.


  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    David, if there’s no rust on a Spitfire just in front of the rear wheels, in the two front turn signal “pods” on each side of the overriders, or in the floorboards (especially the front), you’ll probably find some in the bottom of the battery box, which has a lousy drainage system that almost always clogs up. You’ll also probably find surface rust under the two master cylinders where brake fluid has taken the paint off.

    If there’s no rust in any of those places, you have a very, very rare Spitfire.

    That top, however, is an abomination…

    If anyone is wonder about parts availability, between the major and minor suppliers you can pretty much build a car, and prices are still reasonable.

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  2. Howard A Member

    Once again, no O/D. Top is a little funky, but I’m sure it was just for emergency in California. I suppose a California car doesn’t really need O/D, as freeway speeds rarely exceed 20 mph anyway.( except at 3am) As Jamie sez, lot’s of parts, this Victoria or Moss, had everything I needed on a recent Spitfire rebuild. Ok find, plenty of non-O/D Spitfires around, but I fail to see why this is a “very, very rare car”. ( aside from no rust, that is) At least it doesn’t have that goofy “camber lean” on the rear wheels.

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    • David Frank David F Member

      Jamie is not saying it is a rare car.

      Jamie’s statement is “If there’s no rust in any of those places, you have a very, very rare Spitfire” He is not saying this is a rare car, but that if it doesn’t have rust in the places he mentioned.

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  3. Jay M

    If you are going to do a color change then do it completely. This looks like a bad Christmas ornament. And with that backyard bodywork you will be repainting soon enough.
    The only thing worse than overpaying for a car is paying for substandard work that will have to be redone.
    That said, these are a decent handling and fun little car to drive. The clamshell hood gives you pretty decent accessibility. They are also a very nice looking car, even nicer when those awful afterthought bumper extensions are removed.

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  4. Steven Tamer

    The car is not rusty..Thats a good start..Its a spitfire,no matter what you have to work on it.Wheel bearing,clutch master no big deal..Clutch job now your getting into it..If its something you need offer 2500..Low miles a plus

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  5. Rocko

    Putty covered rust holes behind front driver wheel ALERT !

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  6. Gary

    Check the rocker panels with a magnet to make sure they don’t have putty in them. The rockers are a structural part of the body tub. If they are rusted through then you could end up with some real problems. If they are ok and everything else checks out then $3,000 is probably a fair price. You could probably get it back on the road in safe driving condition for another $500 -$1,000 if you do all the work yourself.

    It would be nice to be able to check out the transmission & diff as those could also be expensive repairs items but without an operating clutch, you would have to consider that a gamble. If you plan to replace the top expect to pay somewhere between $500 – $1,000 depending on how much you can do and how much you have to farm out.

    I’m guessing you are calling it rare since 74 is the only year with the arrow shaped over-riders in the front and back although the front over-riders have been replaced with later ones on this car.

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  7. ClassicCarFan

    I’m a big fan of Spitfires, having owned, restored and driven one. they are neat little cars and hard to beat in terms of fun per dollar. They aren’t highly valuable or collectible because they were cheap when new, built in large numbers and they don’t have the racing heritage of some other brands, but if you buy classic cars to drive and enjoy rather than impress your peers at car shows, then they are great.

    I do agree with Howard that OD is a great option on these cars, but it is relatively rare option so if you were to automatically dismiss any Spitfire for sale if it did not have the OD….you may have a pretty lengthy search.

    I think David F makes a good point that Spitfires with no rust issues are rare too. As the buying guides routinely point out, you’re much better off buying one of these with a great body and spending your time overhauling the mechanicals – that do it the other way round. These are one of the easiest cars ever to work on. The engineering is very simple, few special tools required, the parts easily available and inexpensive compared to most classics and with that flip front you really can sit comfortably on a tire while you set your tappets! and dirt cheap.

    Having said all that I still think don’t think this one is a steal at $3,000. The paint job is pretty poor, seems like there’s a lot of work needed to make it a nice reliable driver and there are a lot of items non-standard on it. I’m not really fanatical about originality personally, but it is certainly a factor in the potential selling price. That quoted “average” transaction price of $6,000 seems way too high to me ? I’d consider $6,000-$8,000 to be the top end of the range for a really GOOD Spitfire I’d expect an average “driver quality” car go for less than that. Just looking at completed listings on Ebay myself, it looks more like the recent average (for the ones that actually did SELL- not counting the fantasy asking prices for non-sellers) was more like $4,000 to $4,500 ?

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  8. Dave

    Just bought a ’90 Miata for same price, going to a Triumph or MG would be a step backward for me.

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  9. Jerry

    It’s easy to see why the museum doesn’t want to put it on display. It needs a complete new interior.

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