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Never Break Your Own Rules!

1978 Triumph Spitfire

Now that I have lived in Boise, Idaho for a few months, I have finally settled in and can say I feel at home in the Tree City. However, over the past few weeks I have been missing my Fiat 124 Spider (it’s still in Wyoming) and I have been really feeling the need to have a classic to work on, tinker with, and enjoy. The other day I was telling Jesse that I really needed a classic to park in my own drive. I’m still working my way through college, so I told him it needed to be something cheap. That’s when he recommended a certain car from his buddy Bruce’s collection that would fit even in my budget. So he got on the phone and before you knew it, we were off to meet up with Bruce to have a look at the car.

Triumph Spitfire

When we pulled into the storage facility where the car had been housed for a number of years, I was starting to feel the rush and anticipation that only comes with the hunt. My palms were starting to get sweaty, my heart was pounding, and my mind was racing. Jesse had already told me what the car was, and I’m sure most of you have already figured out from the photos, a Triumph Spitfire. I hadn’t seen it in person though and had only seen one somewhat blurry photo of it. As Bruce was unlocking the storage unit, I could feel my heart beat pounding faster and faster. Finally the garage door rolled back and there it was in all of its dusty and dirty glory. I quickly got to work inspecting and photographing it. It has just become second nature for me to grab photos of any car we look at because you never know when they might come in handy or bring back some fond memory.

Spitfire Interior

Everything about the car looked great, sure it is a little rough around the edges, but it was incredibly solid. The tires were deflated, so getting a good look underneath was a challenge, but I managed to get some light underneath and I could tell it was rust and damage free. The engine bay looked decent, although I’m really wishing I would have spent more time investigating under that hood, but I will get to that later. This car has two features that I absolutely love and made both Jesse and myself excited. For one it has a factory metal hardtop, which is in great shape! But best of all, it has the houndstooth interior. Few cars have ever featured this fantastic looking print, other than the Spitfire I can only think of two others, and not many Spitfires left the factory in this configuration. I knew I had to have this car; it would be perfect parked in my car port. These are great little sports cars and this appeared to be in the right kind of condition, dirty but solid.

Triumph Spitfire and 145

Bruce could tell I was interested in making this Spitfire my own, but I did my best to not act overly interested. Sadly, I’m not the best poker player and he could have easily called my bluff. Thankfully though, Bruce is a nice guy and he understood that I needed this car to be the right price if I was going to be able to buy it. We started talking numbers and before long we had agreed that at $1,500 we would both be happy with the deal. I know these cars tend to go for more than that, but as with any barn find it is a huge gamble to buy a car that has been parked so long and that lacks any information about its past life. I figured the price and my need for a classic justified taking the risk, but I’m starting to wonder if that was a wise decision.


After shaking hands on the deal, we made arrangements for when I could get the car pulled from the storage unit. I decided that the easiest and cheapest course of action would be to pay a tow truck to come pick up my newly purchased Triumph and transport it the 6 miles to my home. With all the arrangements in place all I had to do was wait patiently for Saturday morning to come. The days leading up to that eventful morning felt as if they would never end, but I tried to use my spare time wisely by surfing the internet in a quest to find more Spitfire information and the cheapest sources for parts. I may have also fit a little homework in there too, but only so that I would have as much spare time as possible to tinker with my new car when it arrived.

Triumph Spitfire Being Towed

Finally after what seemed like an eternity, Saturday morning arrived. I was up extra early to get my car port swept and ready for its soon to be new occupant. With the camera equipment ready to go, I headed off to meet Bruce and his sister at the storage facility. I had the tow truck scheduled to pick the car up exactly one hour after we were to arrive at the facility, that way we would have time to move it out, photograph it, and do any paperwork that might need to be done. As I arrived at the facility I felt surprisingly calm and relaxed, of course I was doing everything I could to suppress my overwhelming excitement. From here on out the whole experience is a blur. I remember opening the storage unit, I definitely remember watching Bruce and his brother-in-law bouncing/lifting the front of the car to get it clear of the garage door, and I vaguely remember taking photos. For some reason the rest of my memories are just of me staring at and studying the car.

Dusty Spitfire

With the car home, I started working on it. There are two tasks I always do first before starting a classic car, change the oil and pull the plugs out. The first is a pretty obvious thing to do, but pulling the plugs is one of those tasks that might not seem that important but really is. With the plugs out, you can tell whether the engine was running lean or rich, if it had excess oil accumulating in the cylinders, but most importantly you can tell if the engine is seized or not quite easily. This is a task that I typically would do before even making an offer on a car, because a seized engine typically means it is going to either need to be replaced or rebuilt. Checking the engine is one of my cardinal rules, but in my desperation and excitement, I forgot to perform this most critical of inspections. As the oil was draining, I started pulling the spark plugs. The first two came out without a hitch and looked exactly as they should, but then I got to the third plug. It was on so tight than I could barely get it to turn. Not wanting to strip it out, I put some penetrating oil around the thread and moved on to the final plug. The last plug came out just like the first two, without any issue and with regular carbon build up. After letting the third one sit for a little while I started working on it again and was finally able to get it pulled out, but what I found wasn’t good. There was dried anti-freeze on the end of the plug and even with the engine wide open I couldn’t get the motor to turn over.

Triumph Spitfire Engine

Now I’m not the type to give up, so I poured some Marvel Mystery Oil down each cylinder in hopes that it will eventually free up the cylinders. I’m also a realist, so I know that chances are this motor is shot. I figure it’s worth giving it a try though and hope for the best. I have read a number of accounts where a stuck engine has been freed; of course everyone has their own secret remedy and technique to do the job. Now being as realistic as I can be without being a pessimist, I have to acknowledge the fact that coolant in the cylinder mostly likely means that the engine has a blown head gasket, which really isn’t a huge issue. What could be an issue is the reason it has a leaky head gasket. The most likely cause, which happens to also be my greatest fear, is that the engine was for whatever reason overheated to the point that it warped the head. If this is the case, there is a good chance the pistons are bonded to the cylinder walls not by rust, but friction welds. I can only hope that isn’t the case and any damage will be limited to the head gasket and the head itself.

Triumph Spitfire Project

Now most of you are probably thinking that this is the price I pay for not doing my due diligence and I would have to agree with you. I broke my number one car buying rule, always check to see if the engine is free before buying. Thankfully for me, Bruce is a good guy and when he found out the engine was stuck he offered to take it back for a full refund. While the offer is more than generous, in my book it is right down incredible, I’m not going to take him up on that just yet. I thought I would turn to you guys for advice first. I know there are lots of options, – I could try rebuilding the engine, I could find a replacement from another Triumph, or I can just tow it back to Bruce for a refund. While in the end taking it back might be my cheapest option, I really do like the looks and condition of this Spitfire, so if it can be saved, I’d love to be the one to do it! So any suggestions guys? Also, I need to end by thanking Bruce for being such a standup guy! I wish every seller was this generous!


  1. RayT Member

    I’m not much of a Spitfire fan, but I can’t see why you’re so bugged. Fifteen hundred looks like a fair price for a decent car, and if it takes longer because of an engine rebuild or replacement, that’s just the way it goes. You have what appears to be a complete car in okay condition…I would suspect there are plenty of Spits out there in Boneyard Land that would willingly sacrifice their powerplants so your car could hit the road. And tearing that mouse motor apart requires neither brain science or rocket surgery! Cheer up and git ‘er done!

    • Josh Staff

      Hey RayT,
      Sorry if I came across as being bugged, I’m actually not bugged at all. I’m a little stressed about it, but that is simply because I’m still in college and have limited time to dedicate to rebuilding an engine, plus my landlord isn’t particularly keen to me tearing it apart in the carport. If I can find an engine nearby (it looks like there might be a few around!) than I think I can do the job of swapping it in a single day. As soon as I’m done with this week’s calculus homework (big test tomorrow), I will be back out working on it to see what I can discover!

      • Gaige

        I’m rebuilding an entire car as a junior in college. It’s not easy, but with a small amount of determination it should come together. It’s a $1500 Spitfire that appears to be in great shape otherwise, keep it.

      • bruno

        You’re not going to have any more time after college. Trust me.

    • Dave

      I’ll just leave this here.

      • Carl B.

        Great Video Dave!! Enjoyed it.

  2. Albert

    Take the plugs out and pour as much Marvel Mystery Oil as you can get down the cylinders. Keep doing that over and over. I think you will see results in a day or two. I have used this trick myself several times. If the rings are stuck within the cylinders, this will loosen them and you can likely get the engine to run afterwards.

  3. cory

    Pull the motor out of the midget you passed up last week.

    It’s worth$1500 with a stuck motor. That is a good looking car. The spitfire motor is one of the easiest to swap out. I would go a head and pop the head off. That will tell you everything you need to know. If its junk, you should be able to get a good motor for $500, or a complete late model midget

  4. Stewart

    I’d not worry about the head being warped, its a cast iron head, while alloy heads invariably warp and require skimming Iron heads seldom do, the temperatures needed to do that would leave the rest of the engine scrap, it will be fine

  5. Silverthorn

    I have a 1974 and can’t say enough about how worth it these cars are to own. The top alone is worth $500.00, and as I’m sure you’ve found out parts are reasonable and plentiful. If you do end up replacing the motor or need a head or block know that Spitfires, MG Midgets and Austin Healy Sprites all have the same motor. That 1500 was used a lot. Good luck and I hope you keep it.

  6. Rick

    Cool car. Does it have o/d? If you decide to keep it, lose the bumper guards, or get the earlier or the euro bumpers. Far as the stuck motor, be patient. I bought a really clean Starmist Blue ’57 Lincoln Premiere coupe back in Summer of ’76 that had 96K on it and had last been licensed in ’70. Anyhow, the motor was stuck, so I pulled all the plugs and filled the cylinders w/ diesel. After it sat for a year I was able to free it up and get it running, and it ran just fine, did not smoke, either. Used to drive it in nice weather, finally sold it in ’85. So like I say, if you’re not in a hurry that motor may free up,

    • Josh Staff

      Hey Rick,
      It does have overdrive! It is actually a really well optioned car and I would like to be able to keep it. The main problem is time. I’m currently renting, so my landlord may not look kindly on me rebuilding the motor in the carport. That really gives me limited time to get it running before he notices. He may not actually care, but at this point I’m just trying to weigh all my options so I don’t end up causing myself more headache. So far I’ve put Marvel Mystery oil down in the cylinders so I’m waiting to see if that does anything. If it doesn’t work in a couple days, I’m going to try diesel.

  7. Chris in San Diego

    I am a Triumph and MG guy. Not really a fan of the 1500 engine but love Spitfires. I would certainly not take it back to Bruce. Pull the heads and see what you have going on. Worst case you can find a good replacement engine pretty cheap for those still. Personally I would retrofit a 1275 or have seen a few with the TR6’s inline six in them, which would certainly give it more zip. A rust free Spit for $1500 even with a blown engine is a deal in my part of the country.

  8. Robert J.

    That particular Spitfire really has some CLASS. Seriously, those wheels? That interior? That one has some style. I’d keep it.

    Here is what I would do: Tell him that you do not want a full refund, but would he consider a partial refund of say $500? I have done this sort of thing in the past and generally the answer is yes. Now, here in California I could locate a running Spitfire engine for less than $500. Your mileage may vary but this is a solid way to proceed.
    The hardtop alone is worth most of your purchase price.
    Oh…and I would get those bumper overriders in the trash where they belong.

    • Michael Rogers

      That’s a nice car and these days chicken feed for a good investment not to mention an economical user and autocrosser
      If the piston is rusted to the bore, filling it with viniger will remove the rust in time, hone it, revive the piston or get another and you’re back on the road!

      • DaveH

        Naval Jelly works GREAT on cylinder wall rust!

  9. Nick

    Find a GT6 and turn it into something special.

  10. Jeff Lavery Staff

    I’m with everyone else! Love the color scheme, love the hardtop, love the wheels…I would still feel OK about it given the price you paid. There’s a GT6 parts car on eBay as we speak, so those solutions are out there. Not sure if there’s any mechanical overlap:

  11. guggie

    I have paid more for a lot less , just look at that car the lines and those wheels , what did U expect for $1500 . Git er dun it will be worth it !!

  12. Nick

    Jeff, that’s the ticket. Transplant the 6 in place of the four.

  13. dan

    pour some marvelous miracle fluid in all cylinders and let it soak.. then try and loosen it by hand.. it may just be some rust in there .. make sure the starter isnt stuck in the flywheel holding it too.

  14. Healeydays

    The idea of finding a GT6 is a great one, but is a bit of work. You’re talking about swapping out the complete drivetrain inc the rear end and you will need the front cowl off the GT6. If you do this you will have one quick little car though…

  15. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Ok, so let me be the one in favor of keeping it a 4-cylinder. #1 Balance is better. #2 Spit engines are less expensive than GT6 engines and FAR more readily available. #3 It’s both easy and relatively inexpensive to get a lot more performance out of the Spit engine. #4 it’s more than just an engine swap…radiator, bonnet, transmission, clutch hydraulics, bigger brakes, rear end ratio, etc. To make a Spit-6 properly, it’s best to start with a GT6 frame and drivetrain and mount the Spit body to it.

    It’s unlikely that the head’s warped, that being said it is such a low compression engine in that configuration a little shaving will help, not hurt.

    BTW, the thing to check on Spit/GT6/TR6/2000/2500/Vitesse/Herald engines is the front to rear play of the crankshaft. If it clunks back and forth, it’s too much, and the cheap-out 1/2 circumference thrust washers are either pooched (hopefully) or in the pan already (you need a new block and crank, or some expensive machining). Check that first before even pulling the head…if the crank moves 1/8″ or so back and forth you have a parts engine only.

    Josh, don’t give up on it…a well-set up Spitfire is a joy to drive. I’ve put well over 200,000 miles on Spitfires (conservative estimate)…the bang-for-the-buck factor can’t be beaten! Good luck and keep us informed!!!

  16. Healeydays

    I do agree with Jamie that Spits can be alot of fun to drive (had a 72), but whatever you do, the rubber baby bumperettes gotta go…

  17. Dave

    The Spitfire looks in good condition to me. I would keep it. Would be great if you got a discount from seller but $1,500 still is not bad.

  18. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Engine and tranny for $400 in Hermiston, Oregon. :-)

  19. Healeydays

    BTW, there is a guy in your back yard that has a 1500 motor available.

    or if you’re willing to drive

    • Josh Staff

      So the one in Middleton isn’t a 1500, but a 1200 from a ’62 Spitfire. The seller says he has a 1500 that he just bought that the previous owner claimed was rebuilt but he can’t get it to turn over. Jesse checked on the one in Oregon and the seller is hard of hearing, so it was hard to communicate with him, but what Jesse was able to get out of him is that the engine hasn’t been run in 14 years. If it were closer, I would run and look at it, but that’s a long drive for an engine that might be seized up too.

  20. Carl B.

    Given the condition of the body and interior – it was worth $1500.00 with no engine. Keep it pure STOCK… even if you need new rings/bearings and fresh valve job. They are small easy to work on engines – and the experience you gain will be more than worth the effort or small expense.

    I’m sure the seller could get more than $1500.00 even with a frozen engine… I really wouldn’t expect him to lower the price or return any of it. Far better for him to take it back and resell it. British Sports cars from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s are gaining interest and market value daily.

  21. David Church

    The price paid is excellent, given the condition. In any case, given the smog-induction system and the anti-freeze on the plugs, the long nap has probably left the fluids in the oil galleries and head full of crap too. A rebuild on this simple engine, and a twin SU carb set-up will give you a good running, reliable Sports Car. And should be done anyway.

    Good Find!

  22. Will

    Regardless of the engine issue I would just like to say that even though it is usually preferable to stay stock, I think the black front bumpers have to go.

  23. Charles Gould

    Great score Josh,
    Before you start tearing that thing apart, take a little advice from a collector who has rescued literally hundreds (if not thousands) of barn finds from their long slumber.
    First of all, I have seen a whole lot of over-anxious buyers neglect to properly inspect a prospective purchase, and I have done so myself many times. Sometimes I got burned, but more often I was pleasantly surprised to find that my subsequent fears were unjustified.
    Second, let me say that I respect you accepting responsibility for this oversight, and not attempting to blame the seller which I have seen done far too many times.
    Third, I have also seen many overly discouraged buyers overreact to a situation that can be easily remedied.
    So, before you start tearing apart that engine, consider the following.
    I am not convinced that what you observed was dried antifreeze on the spark plug. I think that you are presuming the worst. It may be accurate, but it could be something else like simple corrosion or an additive in the fuel.
    You are presuming that because that particular spark plug was difficult to extract, that you detected antifreeze on the plug. Have a god look down the cylinder with an LED penlight or with a boroscope if you have access to one (Harbor Freight has a cheap one), and observe whether there is dried antifreze on the actual piston or that cylinder.
    Second, remove ALL four plugs and fill each cylinder with Aero-Kroil, which is infinitely better than regular penetrating oil. Then put the car in third or fouth gear, and have someone watch the crankshaft pulley for movement, while you rock the car back and forth, or even tug it gently with a tow rope and another vehicle. Pay attention to that front tilting bonnet so that you don’t damage it as you tug the car, and don’t pull to hard.
    Don’t worry about breaking anything, as the car is so light that the rear wheels will drag on the ground before you snap anything important, so long as you are tugging gently and not slamming the car. Also try to tug both forward and back.
    My bet is that this engine is just stuck (not seized) from sitting, and that it will free up quite easily. If not, you may consider draining the oil and filling the crankcase with enough Aero-Kroil to submerge the crankshaft as well to help free the bearings. Then try the same technique for rocking the car.
    If no luck, let it sit for several days, weeks, months or more, especially in a warm location if at all possible and try again.
    Please remember not to reinstall the spark plugs, as you can damage the connecting rods if you “hydrolock” the engine with the oil in the cylinders. Also, place a cardboard sheet or a large rag (one that is big enough not to get sucked into the cylinders) loosely over all four the spark plug holes because if the engine does break free, it will spray the oil out of all four spark plug holes completley covering the underside of your bonnet and the entire engine, but that would be a very happy mess to observe, as it will indicate that the engine freed up.
    If I am wrong, and the engine has blown a head gasket, it is unlikley that this cast iron head is warped (as an aluminium one might be), and the head gasket replacement is really quite simple on this engine, and parts are readilly available and cheap.
    Good luck, and let me know how you make out on this suggestion.
    PS I just bought a 1973 Triumph Spitfire for my 16 year old daughter to cut her teeth on as her first vintage sports car. Her 18 your old sister got an MGB roadster recently as well.

    • Josh Staff

      Hey Chas,
      Thanks for the advice! I will give it a try this evening (hopefully at least!) and see if I can make any head way. I’ve got Marvel Mystery on the cylinders right now, but I’ve heard other penetrating oils can work better. I’m hoping that worst case scenario it’s a blown head gasket (easy fix) and I can get it unstuck with a little patience. I’ve learned patience always pays off, so I’m hoping having a little patience is all this problem is going to take!
      Thanks Again,

    • Robert J.

      Kroil. Yes! Buy it online.

    • Carl B.

      Agree completely with Mr Gould – with the exception of the use of “Aero-Kroil” as suggested. Aero-Kroil is an aerosol and not inexpensive in the qualities needed to completely cover piston tops in the cylinders. I’d suggest getting a couple of 1/2 pint cans or even a gallon of “Kroil” in liquid form. It will last a very long time, but you will never use anything else. Always handy to have an aerosol can of Aero-Kroil in the garage, but Kroil in a pump can is just as effective and far less expensive. See:

    • David G

      First of all Josh, congrats on making what sounds like a FINE acquisition, even present seized-engine ‘ugh’ considered. And thanks for such a kewl writeup subject!

      Second of all, at risk of bringing up a sortof ‘religion’ subject, i do keep hearing that the most-effective penetrant solution is 50% Transmission Fluid with 50% acetone. Maybe that’s just for rust but it’s fairly well supported by empirical testing, results of which have been articulated across the www in places. Just sharing what i’ve heard, have not personally tried this solution but in your case, it may be worth a try. Think you’d wanna put the plugs back in a few turns if that’s where you’re administering it since Acetone’s such a vigorous evaporator. Then be sure to blow/drain it all out once things are freed so such a strong solvent doesn’t remain inside, for obvious reasons…

      In any case, great find, great buy, and good luck…

  24. Left Shark

    Like it for all the reasons cited – and I don’t mind the rubber tits it has stuck on its bumpers.

  25. Jim R.

    I think the price of $1500 was very fair. So if worst case is finding a donor car with a motor that isn’t seized and you’re golden. That’ll give you the tinkering you wanted and a nice solid Spitfire with a hardtop. And…..with the donor car you might have some additional parts on it that you may need at some point in the future.

  26. Ken Nelson

    Josh, a lot of guys in various car clubs swear by a 50/50 by volume mix of acetone and power steering fluid for unsticking engines. Why? Because acetone is extremely liquid and penetrating (maybe it’s a smaller molecule than most conventional stuff) and carries the power steering fluid everywhere. And it’s very volatile, so evaporates quickly. If you put in mystery oil, fill to the top of each cyl, note the level, and see which levels drop as the liquid leaks past the rings. Any cylinder which doesn’t leak down a bit is mostly stuck, and ones that do leak down may not be stuck. So – if you find ones that hold the level, try sucking the stuff out with a Hazard Fraught tools suction pump for about 6 bucks, and fill that cyl with the acetone blend, and watch that level. After a couple days soaking, try hitting the starter to see if the crank budges but first put a heavy towel or something over the plug holes so you don’t get drenched if it does spin and blows the MO out. If not, can you get to the ring gear to put a crowbar on it? If so, try that, keeping the tip of the bar deep into the tooth gap, and tug gently. A crowbar on the flywheel gives you a lot of leverage, and that can work. I once freed a ’70 Citroen D Special 2L hemi engine with that crowbar trick after I failed to blow the pistons loose using a Citroen high pressure hydraulic pump feeding thru a hollow spark plug to apply a couple thousand psi force to the pistons. This has worked on earlier Cits but not this time. So failing at that, I had nothing to lose on a car that had sat in the Sierra mntns for about 20 yrs outside. Pulled the starter, drilled a huge 1 in. hole in the alum. bell housing to access the flywheel teeth, applied the 3 ft. crowbar, and she came loose! Then hand cranked it to make sure all the valves were free, cleaned the points, changed oil, spun engine with starter with plugs out to get oil into the bearings, installed plugs and she fired right up. Still working on the rest of the car but the engine is good. I’m with the majority here – keep the car – it’s too nice to let go with just a stuck engine – try pulling a Citroen DS engine sometime & you’ll appreciate the simplicity of the Spit.

  27. Pete Member

    The bore scope is a fine idea.

    However, sit back and be resolved to take some time.
    Regular kerosene is as good as penetrating oil and a whole lot less expensive. Get a pan under the engine and fill the cylinders with oil. Every 3 or 4 days go out and put a wrench on the drive shaft(rad. fan). Try to get a tiny 1/32nd of a turn. NO MORE… Wiggle it back and forth if necessary. As the oil leaks out of the oil dip stick hole, add more to the cylinders.
    After you have everything else up to snuff your engine will be free unless its junk for real.
    I then drain and change the oil before driving it away.

    I’ve done 5 or 6 this way now. So far without a single failure.

    • tugdoc

      What Pete said is what my dad tought me, basicly slow and easy. When it finally moves stop and come back tomorrow.
      Contact the local Trimuph club, they know where the parts are and what they are worth. Some old guy with a pristine spit would love to help a new guy! MG Expearance has a trimuph site, another good place.
      Good luck, get her running enjoy the ride keep us posted.

  28. Healeydays

    I agree with Ken Nelson’s idea. I remember getting a flathead to free up years ago with that mix of acetone & power steering fluid. The trick with any of these ideas is let it sit and don’t force it. Look out the window and look at the snow on the ground and realize you have plenty of time before top down weather…

  29. John

    Its about time for you to get your hands dirty again. Start accumulating motor parts. You need to do a complete rebuild. You will love it. It’s a great motor to set on the bench and start wrenching on.

  30. Gavia

    This is a sweet deal for $1500. Factory HT, Cosmic Wheels, No (visible) rust. I bought my ’72 TR6 in ’79 for $1,200. It’s engine needed rebuilding too. I did it in the garage with the block on saw horses myself when I was 16 years old. I’ve put about 50,000 miles since but that is nothing compared to the joy it has brought everytime I start it up and drive it.

    All parts are available from TRF and a few other sources in the US and UK.

    Give this thing a good clean inside and out, engine bay shampoo, clean the paint with Maguires, fix the engine and have one hell of a lot of fun driving it!!

  31. Keruth

    I’d say the bones on this one look good for $1500, keep it. The motors on these are dead simple, parts availability is fantastic. Overdrive is a recommended addition. Thrust rings are problematic, solid bronze are available to “pin in place”, good to do if a complete teardown is needed anyway. GT and Spitfire magazine has a good bit of info online. North American Spitfire Squadron (Yahoo) is the better club/forum, you’ll love the guys real world input, there’s a fellow in NE from NASS who will help you a lot. Oh, and you’ll want to shave that head .060 to raise compression on that smoged up engine (that and flat top pistons will get the best bang for the buck). Paul Tegler’s Spit site for great info on uprating everything on these cars!
    As a point that I see too often here and other forums, those over riders cover the front frame extensions that mount the bonnet hinges, Earlier ones are “smaller” and available, deleting them is not recommended.
    There is a gentleman in Ohio, a racer in his day, Ted at TSI Automotive,, a great source of info and can give you a nicely tuned engine rebuild for $3k or so,
    If I found one like this, the 1.5/2.0 ecoboost Ford (fiesta/focus) swap might be the direction I’d go. Can you say “SpitFord” anyone?
    Really want more, check out Canley’s catalogue New stuff is impressive.
    Good luck, and keep us posted please!

  32. Neil

    If you are in any doubt about the Spitfire, have a quick look through this site and see what you can achieve with a little bit of sympathetic resto-modding.

    You’ve got the rare hardtop, at worst a cheap engine swap, a very tired rear suspension and a new paint job in your future. Please, please do not return this – they are sooo easy to work on, parts are dime-a-dozen and you could have something awesome for (*does quick bit of maths in head*) well under $7k, Immaculate paint, professionally retrimmed (there is barely anything to trim in there, so it’s cheap!) at that price, as long as you’re happy to do the oily bits and wrenching yourself. I can’t see you losing money on it.

    I’m not a great mechanic but even I could sort that car out and there is loads of great advice above.

  33. Maestro1 Member

    Josh, Charles Gould is spot on. There’s also other good sense here. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about the Hobby is how supportive everybody is. Good luck with it, and yes, lose the bumper guards.

  34. Kunanative MK1

    I’m hopefully about to wrap up my rebuild on my ’63 Midget and looking for a winter project for next year. If you decide you don’t want the Spit, please give me a shot at it. Have trailer will travel.

    PS. I also have a 1275 short block I am saving for something just like this.

  35. jim s

    i see more then the price you paid in parts so keep it. either fix this motor, get another motor, sell it as is for what you have in it or part it out. i do not think you will loose on this one. talk to your landlord now, not later, about your plans so they are in the loop. if the landlord does not want it on the carport they may know where you can store it. much better then the midget for the same price. great find.

  36. Dave Wright

    Great spring project car. Inexpensive parts and some sweat will make a super car for the first warm days of spring. We have the best project cars here in the west.

  37. Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

    Free up the engine with kerosene, cheap and easy. Great buy!

  38. jimbosidecar

    I would have never believed it, but once I tried it, I’m a firm believer of using diesel fuel to free up a stuck motor. I’ve done quite a few old BMW motorcycle engines that way and it works every time. By the way, nice find and a really fair price in my opinion.

  39. Gale Heimbach

    Either way you go let us know how this project proceeds.
    This is interesting.
    Good Luck!

  40. Charles Gould

    CarlB is absolutely correct. I meant Kroil in the gallon containers, and I should not have referenced Aero-Kroil, which is their aerosol can product. The liquid form in the gallon cans is the preferred method to buy and use this product for this application.

  41. Charles Gould

    Kroil is still expensive in gallon cans, as much as $50.00 per gallon, although cheaper in quantities of three or more gallons, and well worth the premium price.

  42. Dave H

    I have had to free up a few stuck engines over the years. Diesel fuel works. So does the Acetone & PS fluid or ATF mixture. Never had any luck with “loosen-all” fluids like marvel, or similar. (YMMV)
    I have also left engines with the “loosen it up” stuff filling cylinders for a week or two and then hit the front crank bolt with a rattle wrench to jar and rattle the crank & pistons. That has even worked with an old flathead 6 that had sat for over 20 years. The rattlegun won’t turn it over but will allow you to later turn it by hand.

    Another trick is to pull the head, and use an air hammer on top of a hockey puck on the piston tops – again, direct shock treatment sans too much force – you don’t want to bust the rings or ring lands. Hockey puck prevents damage to piston tops. Had to do that on a B18 Volvo engine that been run out of oil and seized – but it worked well enough to get it running again with only a new head gasket required from the parts bin (although it did smoke afterwards, and I eventually had to do a full rebuild on it with a bit of an overbore and plus-sized pistons.

  43. Mark E

    Interesting how many here have used diesel fuel to free up stuck engines! I used it to unstick the 351 V8 on an old Ford that I had stored outside on a friends farm for 4-6 years. It was a driveable parts car that I wanted to drive to the salvage yard and rather than drive back into town for a special product, I just pulled all the plugs and filled up each one with diesel and let it sit for a few days or maybe even a week. Cranked it a bit with the plugs off then put the plugs back in and had to hold the gas down about 1/3 of the way to rev the engine and blow the diesel out. (I’m sure the neighbors for about a mile downwind didn’t have problems with mosquitoes for awhile!)

  44. Charles Gould

    One other bit of advice. Don’t be talked into, or tempted, to scour the country, and stock up on used engine parts or additional parts cars. Virtually every part for these engines (and for the entire car for that matter) is available from multiple sources for very reasonable prices, even cheap. It makes no sense to stock up on used engines or engine parts. If it does need a rebuild, any good shop can get the stuck pistons out of the old block and rebuild your original “matching numbers” engine with off the shelf NOS or reproduction internal parts. The only exception is if you prefer a cheap used engine just to repair and run it cheaply.

    • Woodie Man

      All darn good advice. I’d keep it original and if needed rebuild it correctly. Any value and resulting sale price greater than you have in it at the end, will be greatly enhanced by its orignality. They’re only original once.As with anything, a Spitfire afficianado will pay more for one thats original and squared away. Anyone can mix and match parts to make a car the factory didnt. Just takes money. They’re only original once though. Assuming this is original, thats the route I’d go. As long as I owned it I’d ditch the rubber bumpers though. Put ’em on the shelf tilll you sell the car.

      As for buying the car with a potentially stuck engine, unless the seller misrepresented it, I’d suck it up.

    • David G

      I’m with WM here. Am a believer that copious (unnecessary?) amounts of parts swapping tend to destroy the ‘soul’ of a car. I know i know, sounds like emotional science to many but to me, i like to keep the ‘souls’ of my cars as intact as possible, that means repair of ORIGINAL parts if at-all possible rather than replacements. Obviously not talking tires, spark plugs, fuel pumps etc here, just the BIG stuff – like engines…

  45. CAREY PETTIT Member

    nice find josh ! I use a 50/50 mix of acetone and trans fluid works good I have several spits and a couple gt6’s so im very familiar with rust living in Michigan . a gt6 engine is good choice my running spit with a 6 is a trip to drive but the 4 has plenty of power . the triumph 6 you will need a trans ,radiator and other misc. parts .I do have a rebuilt 1500. to bad were not closer!!!!!!!!! I love these cars finaly found one with overdrive so ill just add this to my herd !!!!!!!!!!!!!! good luck

  46. DT

    At this point you probably know what I think of English cars. But Im going to break one of my rules and tell you these things haul a**,and are super easy to work on. They are 2 inches off the ground,thats a good thing.No 5 speed,maybe OD.If I was going to mess with a british car,it would be a “spitoon” ,I also like the gt6’s.I also like anything with IRS.these are very cheap fun.If its solid,and it does look good,put some money into it you will get it back in fun.For real,tell Bruce you dont want any money back,Keep this guy on your good side,I think its a good deal myself,ask if he could store it for you for a couple of months.And during that time find another block and start building your new motor.Once the new motor is built, then bring the car back to your house and install the new motor in a weekend.They are easy to work on,turn on a dime,and go surprisingly fast.

  47. Ian Wilkinson

    The Spitfire Graveyard in Sheffield, England is a great place for spitty parts, they specialise in spits, GT6,s, stags and tr7’s. They have tons of spares very cheap!

  48. Josh Staff

    Wow guys! Thanks for all the support, advice, and encouragement. After reading all your comments I think I’m going to give the Marvel Mystery oil a couple days to soak, if that doesn’t work than I’m going to try one of the other penetrating oils as suggested. Whether it comes unstuck or not, I’m honestly thinking of doing a rebuilt. Here’s the deal though, I have to do the work quick to avoid an unhappy landlord, but I think with some well laid out plans and time tables I can pull it off. I also want to involve you guys as much as possible in the process, so I want to hear from everyone what parts and upgrades you would recommend. Once I get some other projects out of the way (mainly school stuff) I will put together a post outlining the rebuild and you guys can give your input there! Thanks again guys!

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Good move! Call me sometime if you want to chat about this, I can send a “care package” depending on what spec you want to go with.

  49. Andrew

    You might consider getting in contact with a local British car club (such as the Idaho British Car Club You’ll likely find a huge swath of information and parts, but you might also be able to find another enthusiast with a spare workspace you could use just long enough to get the engine back in shape.

    “You bring the wrenches, and I’ll bring the beer” along with a handshake is an arrangement I’ve made countless times.

    Good luck!

  50. Robert R. Member

    Just remember to tell the “mates” to bring their “spanners”. You may also need some left-handed ones if you know what I mean….ha, ha, ha.

    I believe you will get her running and have great fun!

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      That’s great advice! I do not have a Spit, but I could bring a Stingray and some left-handed spanners to the party! I do think it is a good buy. Enjoy!

  51. Dave Wright

    I would not get too rough with the engine trying to free it up. It is really easy to cause undue damage. It a simple chemical solution does not work, I would pull the head and see what is going on. Stuck engines usually have one tight cylinder, or even a camshaft as long as the air cleaners have been on it and it has a tight head gasket. Many times engines that have been stuck have damaged cylinder bores or rings or both. They eventually have to be at a minimum honed,new rings installed and often bored with oversize Pistons. If the cylinder bores look alright, I have seen something as simple as a distributor drive frozen enough to lock the engine. If you do it correctly from the beginning. You will be much happier with the car than trying to hack it together. These are really inexpensive cars to repair,I would not hesitate pulling the engine for a proper rebuild, that way you can see the clutch, and all the typical wear parts. This looks like a really nice car, it deserves to be done right. I live a little way out of Boise but have plenty of room if you need to store it, we can do whatever we like here at the ranch. Landlord problems are not fun either. I can’t see where you mentioned how many miles are on the car. That might effect how I would approach it too. A high mile engine would deffinatly come out.

    • Josh Staff

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for the offer to store it for me! I’m going to talk to my landlord to make sure he is okay with me working on it in the car port. He’s actually a nice guy, so I’m sure as long as I ask he will work something out with me. If not, I might have to give you a call!

  52. 67rebelsst

    I think there is a wealth of advice that is good info. on this thread. Good luck. If that was in Ohio it would just be a pile of rust. I would love to find one that nice. There is also the old trick of moving the car once a week to make it look like it was running. worked for me when I lived in a apartment. Then again if your landlord is that uptight, might want to look for somewhere with a friendly old landlord.

  53. MikeW

    I’m with Carey, ATF/ACETONE is lots cheaper than Kroil and works just as good

  54. Josh Staff

    Alright guys, Jesse just got a call about an MG Midget parts car with a running motor that the owner is willing to sell me for $500 (I assume that’s just the motor). Here is my thought, buy this motor, swap it, and then work on rebuilding the original motor in the comfort of my dinning room. This way I can enjoy the car while I rebuild the motor and having it in the kitchen will push me to keep going on it. I know it’s going to cost me a little extra going this route, but I can spread the cost of rebuilding the motor out over a couple months and I can do my research instead of rushing into something. What do you guys think?

  55. Dave Wright

    At the risk of sounding stupid………I have done many Sprite and Morris engines, I don’t remember them interchanging with the Herald engine in the Spitfires (that I have less experiance with)……..500.00 would go a long way towards a rebuild as well.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      The Midget 1500 has the same engine…but I’d still suggest pursuing this one first…

      • DT


  56. RickyM

    A very popular topic, your new car Josh ! A good buy even with your engine problems – it looks fabulous, in great bodywork condition. Love the picture with the Volvo in the background – was it sulking ??? :-) Good luck with the engine, and well done to Bruce – a fine upstanding chap offering a full refund.

  57. Charles Gould

    You don’t even know that the engine is bad yet!
    I am trying to tell you that after collecting barn finds for over forty-five years it is prudent to do a proper diagnosis before you tear the engine out and apart.
    It may need nothing but a little persuasion or it may be junk. But spending your money on used engines and used parts is a waste of money and energy that could be used to paint or upholster the rest of the car.
    Please slow down and determine what is wrong and what you need first. They made boatloads if these and the engines were used in many other marques as well. NOS, reproduction and used parts and engines are readily available cheap and will be there later if you determine that you need them.
    And if you do need a complete rebuild or just a top end, a competent mechanic can complete that task within a month.
    Don’t lose you focus by chasing parts and used engines that you may not even need. Why blow your wallet and your time and energy removing and installing the engine twice. Properly determine what is wrong and then buy what you really need and install what needs to be repaired.
    I know one guy who removed and rebuilt an engine only to learn that the tranny was stuck so the rebuilt engine wouldn’t turn either after the rebuild.
    Not likely your situation but am enlightening example of what I am trying to teach you. Most collectors cant resist buying all of tge spare parts or engines that match their cars and as a result have stacks of used parts that they spent hundreds of dollars on and which they will never even use.
    Everything that you may ever need for this engine is available new and cheap. Don’t be lazy. Do your due diligence and find out what (if anything) is really wrong with this engine first.

    • Dave H

      Hear! Hear! The best advice so far! Find out what you need FIRST then do it!
      You are thinking it needs a total rebuild, but you haven;’t even got the head off yet!
      What if it’s just a cracked head?
      As a barn finder you should always start with cheapest approach first!
      (Says the guy with a shop full of stuff that I later didn’t need!)

    • Maestro1 Member

      Well done, Charles. Good advice.

  58. Ken Nelson

    Josh, if you can find a Citroen DS owner near you who has an extra hydraulic pump that he’d let you use to pressurize a cylinder, you can easily rig up a cheap device to apply a whole lot of pressure to a piston without damaging it, and could possibly blow the engine loose without taking anything apart. I’ve freed up at least 3 Traction Avant engines and a couple of DS19 1.9L engines with nothing more than a pump borrowed from one of my cars, and hooked up via a long flexible hose which could even be made up from junkyard brake flex hoses with some hardware store adapters. I knock the ceramic out of an old spark plug, tap the steel base for a small pipe fitting with a compression fitting on its other end, and connect it to a 1/4 in. diam. short length of steel brake line that will fit thru a spark plug socket so the adapter can be screwed into the engine, then connected to the flex hose. You can only do this if none of the pistons are at TDC, as you want to use a high piston vs. a low one, and you need to know what the relative piston heights are so you know which way the piston you choose will move, and then you have to make sure both valves are tightly closed so pressure doesn’t leak out.
    After filling the high cylinder with 30 wt or equivalent, hook up the hose to pump, spin it fast with an old washing machine motor or something that is capable of about 3K rpm, and hit the switch to purge the line of air, then connect to spark plug adapter. Give it power, but be ready to shut off fast, as it doesn’t take much to generate a lot – 1000, 2000 psi? – of pressure to blow a small engine like yours loose. The valves have to be tight enough to hold pressure, and you might want to loosen the adjuster screws to make sure they’re shut. If the crank moves, cut the switch, suck the oil out of the cylinder, and try the starter with all plugs out. If the crank spins, then pull the head, press fit a cardboard disc in each cylinder in turn at BDC, then polish out the bores with a fine grit spun bonded Scotchbrite abrasive wheel to remove the barrel rust, vacuum out the crud, then apply WD40 to each cyl, spin engine with starter to bring any barrel rust below the piston up the barrel walls, wipe clean & repeat until no more rust comes up the cylinder. Only then put a head gasket and head back on and fire it up. This method has worked very well for me on at least 4 Citroen engines that had been stuck for yrs. I never pulled any of them apart as I didn’t need to – they ran fine, even if barrel rust went a couple thousandths below the barrel metal, and didn’t burn any oil. My son and I ran a ’64 DS wagon 1500 miles roundtrip on its maiden voyage after this break loose routine, at 75 mph, and the engine didn’t burn any more oil than normal!

    • DT

      Make sure its in neutral

  59. Charles Gould

    That’s incredible Ken! Great idea and wonderful detailed description. Are there any over the counter electric pumps that can generate this much pressure if one doesn’t have a DS lying around to scavenge parts from?

    • Dave Wright

      A simple Port a Power hand pump will male that kind of pressure.

  60. Howard Coe

    I’ve enjoyed reading all this good advice. I had a ’63 Spit, $ 400 for a faded, mismatched tires, only one seat, missing some part just to start. Later head gasket. I was just out of the Army in 1970, but wanted a sports car. Learned a lot and had a ton of fun. Later had a ’66 Sprite, ’74 914, and now ’70 MG B. It is just back on the road with some work to do. Amazing advice and great support.

  61. Ken Nelson

    A portapower can generate the pressure, but not enough volume fast enough to overcome some leakage of pressure out the valves and down the rings – The Citroen hydraulic pump is a marvel of design, reliability and hydraulic power in such a small package – producing 2500 psi all the time the engine is running to supply the whole car – suspension, brakes, steering and shifting/clutching. With an old washing machine motor driving one, you can spray paint or rustproofing hydraulically, which I’ve done with one, along with blowing at least 4 engines loose and back to running condition without ever touching the bottom ends or damaging anything.

    • Dave Wright

      Having owned a hydraulic shop for several years……..there is nothing remarkable about the Citroen system except the rate that it fails and leaks. Portapower pumps produce 10,000 to 20,000 PSI. They are commonly used to lift buildings, straighten frames, push wet sleeves and Pistons out of engine blocks. They can be had in either manual, electric, gas or diesel power. I have seen old tractor guys lubricator stuck Pistons as others have described here, pull the head and use a porta power cylinder with rubber cushions on each end. The old boy loosely replaced the head and drove the Pistons out with the pump. The only other issue was he would always do it on the bench and remove the crankshaft before driving them out. There is enough force to damage a crank if you are not careful. This old boy rebuilt antique tractors that had been sitting in the elements for decades. Many times he would break a piston but in his opinion, if it broke, it was no good anyway. Sometimes the piston skirts were frozen to the cylinder walls by corrosion, the top of the piston would break out with the rod and pin,and he would use his torch to get out the residue.

  62. Charles Gould

    Does the pump actually pump hydraulic fluid into the cylinder, or just air to compress the penetrant that was poured into the spark plug holes? If hydraulic fluid, do you use the LHM fluid or a simply hydraulic, and how do you get it out afterwards? Where can I get one of these pumps? I need to free up the double overhead cam six cylinder in my barn find E-Type Jaguar.

    • Dave Wright

      Chas, don’t waist your time and energy with witchcraft. You have a complicated expensive engine. Get a bore scope and inspect the cylinders through the spark plug holes, that will give you useful information that you can use to proceed with. Lubracation and solvents are always nessisary in starting any engine that has been sitting, whether stuck or not. Your car could have a stuck cam bearing, or valve guide or any one of a miriad of things. Find a real Jag expert, these things frequently have the same problems. Experiance is priceless. My Detroit diesels tend to seize when the blowers corrode and lock up. I simply pull the quill in the blower drive and turn the engine with a bar (after lubracating the cylinders) to confirm the problem…….then the blower is off to the rebuilder. There are lots of real old grey haired Jag experts that would be glad to pass on there experiences.

  63. Chris A.

    Although you have one cylinder that looks bad, the other three may also have “sticky” problems. The advice from Chas Gould is spot on, Kroil is amazing stuff but you have to let it sit. I can only add that the one time Dad and I used it, we filled a very large trigger squeeze oil gun with Kroil and then heated the gun in a pot of boiled water. As noted above, three of the cylinders leaked down into the sump very quickly, but #4 didn’t which gave a good idea where the problem really existed. Pulled the head and found it had been overreved and dropped a valve. But Dad and I had left that last cylinder for a week and noticed no leakdown so it was time to look further. Pulling a head on an OHV engine is no big deal. I have no idea what is in Kroil, but restorers of old aircraft engines and propellors for the Air & Space Museum use it on engines and props that have sat decades longer than your Spitfire. Let it sit, and study your calculus (and the Spitfire workshop manual) in the meantime. Good luck and please keep us posted.

  64. Ken Nelson

    With all due respect Dave, using a Citroen pump is not witchcraft – I’ve been doing this for 52 yrs and have always done my own hydraulic work, most recently fixing the hydraulic window system on the late Billionaire Jacques Littlefield’s ’65 Mercedes 600 limo when the MB guys f….cked it up. I not only fixed it better than the factory, I saved him thousands of dollars by building my own test rig, finding out what was wrong, and repaired it by using not ridiculously expensive MB parts, but off the shelf hydraulic shop parts and a customized Parker free piston accumulator spec’d by me to replace the blown Bosch one costing $7000 vs my Parker Special at $350 – ’nuff said? And my background in physics doesn’t hurt when combined with my own dirty fingernail experience.

    So – to answer your question Chas, you don’t want any air in the system if you try my witchcraft – that’s why you fill the cylinder completely, which is easy in the Jag – I just got my own 3.8L grab bag engine running – with the hemi cyls, purge air from the pump line, and use any cheap engine oil if you’re using an LHM pump. I’ve often used an old LHS pump if I didn’t have a later one, knowing I was going to rebuild it anyway. If you spin it fast enough, some pump leakage won’t matter. You’re using straight hydraulic power this way, and it automatically forces the oil anywhere it can go so lubes the piston and everything it touches. Worst case was a DS21 engine in my Dad’s old ’67, parked in a damp barn in N. Wisconsin over the winter for a couple yrs. It stuck so hard in spite of soaking with penetrant that all I could do was move the crank about 30 degrees, which did break it loose, but not loose enough to turn with the starter or any other way, so had to come out. I didn’t have enough time to pressurize all the other cylinders, which might have helped, but the car was pretty rusty also, so we elected to donate it to some local Cit guys who parted it out. However, this attempt demonstrated to me what the Cit pump could do when set up right, yet not break anything as long as you make sure the piston you use is a high one but positioned off TDC at least 20 degrees. Remember, the pressure was applied just to one piston, yet made all the rest move with it – the hydraulic force is gentle, smooth and perfectly uniform vs beating on the top of a piston. The key is to have the valves tight – otherwise all you do is fill the intake or exhaust with oil. The LHM fluid is just a fancy oil, so won’t hurt the pump. I run Dexron III in my ’67 DS convertible (converted to green fluid seals) and have for yrs – inexpensive and works perfectly in a manual DS, so use that if you’re concerned about compatibility. Contact me offline if you’ve got any other questions re the Jag.

    • Dave Wright

      Any time I am looking for an obscure car to rob an even more obscure part to modify for use as a tool it qualifies as witchcraft. Did you ever use eye of newt?

      • Robert J.

        Don’t waste your money on eye of newt! You can just use any eyeballs you happen to have lying around as long as you soak them in Ganges river water under the waning moon first. Everyone knows that. :)

    • DT

      Littlefield………The military vehicle collector????………..Jag????……Citroen????………Im very confused and my head hurts???

  65. DT

    One Lloyd I had,I tried Marvel Mystery oil,I filled the cylinders full….In a few seconds the Marvel Mystery oil was all on the ground.So if the motor has a hole in a piston or in the cylinder bore,thats just a waste.One Borgward I had was frozen,I put Marvel mystery oil in all the sparkplug holes…turned out transmission broke,so transmission was siezed, which in turn siezed the crankshaft.I could have poured 2000 gallons of Diesel,Acetone or Marvel Mystery oil in there with no positive results.

  66. Nick

    By the time you monkey about and buy everything necessary to pressurize the proper cylinder (pump, fittings, oil(s) etc…, provided the stuck piston was kind enough to jam at 20 degrees off TDC (if the problem is indeed the cylinder), you might as well tear the motor down and rebuild what needs rebuilding. At the moment you’re dealing with what’s apparent in a non running engine. There’s nothing to say that, after loosening up the crank and starting it, that there will be decent, or any oil pressure. If antifreeze got into the oil, then sat in the oil pump, there’s a very good chance it won’t work. I’ve seen several British oil pumps jammed completely with sludge.If you want a motor you can trust, you want to find out what caused the problem in the first place and deal with domino effects.

  67. Dave Wright


  68. Ken Nelson

    DT – does that stand for Delerium Tremors? Didn’t mean to give you a headache! And what’s wrong with mixing Limeys with Frogs? And how is it so many of us who have the weird cars always have the same weird ones? LLoyd? Borgward? My very first car was a ’59 Isabella TS in 1962, and just a couple yrs ago I had a 1960 Goliath “Tiger” pancake 4 FWD coupe with TWIN carbs no less (BFD)! Almost bought a Lloyd Alexander with my first Panhard – rusting in the same garage. A friend and I got the Lloyd started, but also accidentally set fire to the engine. Birds of a feather??? And yes, Littlefield – owner of the world’s largest collection of military vehicles (280+) – only guy on the planet with two Russian Scud missile launchers with missiles, and a huge Russian portable radar truck which had the nasty tendency to microwave its crew. I offered to help him get his French EBR reconnaissance car running – a PushmePullyou with a driver at each end for fast retreat, carried a machine gun, with 4 huge tractor tires on the corners, and 4 retractable steel tractor wheels in between for off road, powered by 6 – yes 6 – Panhard flat air-cooled twins bolted end to end under the floor – now there’s a bugger to maintain! Instead Jacques wanted me to fix his Merc’s weird hydraulic windows, and after that, his 1925 or so Citroen Kegresse halftrack which was lots of fun – until on one startup the solid bronze rotary valve carburetor stuck wide open and no. 3 rod & 10 pieces of piston made an 8 inch window in the aluminum crankcase – not so fun, but that’s another story –

    • Robert J.

      I for one would love to wander through you garage and talk Borgwards and Panards. What fun.

  69. Mike Japp

    Nice find! I’ ve had my 1977 Spitfire since I was 16 in high school. That was 33 years ago! It was only parked for a few years during part of my US NAVY time and some college time. I have not rebuilt engines myself but I have done everything else except body and paint. These cars are a lot of work but can be a lot of fun too! Go to Amazon and buy the book “Triumph Cars in America” by Mike Cook who worked for Triumph in the 60’s and 70’s. He has the inside story. Join a local British car club and learn from the experienced guys. That’s what I did in 1991 and it helps. Also get the Triumph Spitfire magazine. My website is “” forwards to Angelfire. Cheers!

  70. Cameron Bater UK

    Hmm sounds like you’re in a pickle.

    The first thing I’d do in this instance is drop or lift the engine (Former for subframes and so on) once its mounted on a stand drain the oil and remove the sump, I’d do this anyway as sediment and metal shavings may have built up in the sump and may indicate what’s happened. once thats done remove the head and turn it so the engine is on a slant (this should allow access for views from both ends) attempt to turn it over with a breaker bar.
    It sounds like a big job but should only take about an hour or so, I’m only a student of Mechanics but I do know that if the Crank baearings are tightened down beyond their torque it can stop the shaft from turning, the same can be said fro damaged shells.

    Option 2 is to send it off to a specialist who will heat up the cylinder and cool the piston forcing a seperation, at that point they’ll throw the pistons away (or re-condition them) and bore out the block for new ones, they’ll also skim the faces of the block and cylinder head to make sure the seal will be 100% on fitment.

  71. Cameron Bater UK

    The important thing is to work down a list of potential problems in order of price.
    1. Compression issues £0 to diagnose
    all the way to
    100. Heat Welded Cylinder £???? complete specilist rebuild required

  72. DT

    Be careful lighting Lloyd motors on fire because the gas tank is under the hood

  73. Ken Nelsonq

    Yes, we noticed that DT and smothered that fire fast! – in fact a friend recently told me he knew a guy who had a lloyd, and his car had the hood prop attached to the top of the gas tank until one day he forgot to latch the hood down. As he was driving, the hood flew up, yanked the gas tank off the car and slung it over the roof! Didn’t hear what happened behind that event…….could’ve been pretty exciting.

  74. Dave Wright

    So……..did the engine free up yet……..

  75. Robert J.

    Ha! Hilarious story Ken. Reminds me if my ‘ ’69 Deville convertible. Her name was Cruella. She decided to pop a power steering line which sent blood red fluid into the air in all directions. The hood was already open for completely different reasons.

  76. William

    Depending on your finances, I’d pull the head and have a good look at it. Even if it is shot the car is worth putting back on the road. A small engine like that I’m assuming can’t be that much to rebuild or maybe your can find a good used one. Don’t give up so easy.

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