No Reserve Garage Find: 1965 Triumph Spitfire

This 1965 Triumph Spitfire is the stereotypical “one owner, little old lady” classic. The original owner recently passed away, and the seller purchased it from her estate. It runs and drives, and it appears that it wouldn’t take a lot of work to have the Triumph in a roadworthy state once again. That could make it the perfect winter project for the right person. The Spitfire is located in Novi, Michigan, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding currently sits at $4,500 in a No Reserve auction.

The Signal Red Triumph has undergone a cosmetic restoration in the past, but the seller says that it doesn’t look like the work was completed to a high standard. The floors have a few patches, and the rockers have been repaired to address rust problems. However, there is the possibility that these might need to be reworked to improve the quality of the finish. If the buyer decides to go the whole hog and replace the floors, these are readily available. An outlay of $660 will secure a full set of floors, and that should fix that issue permanently. Similarly, replacement rockers are easy to find, and a figure of around $200 per side will secure both inner and outer rockers. Beyond that, it appears that there are no other rust issues with which to contend. The convertible top is present, but its condition isn’t great. That is one item that I would certainly replace. The trim looks quite respectable, and there are no visible issues with the glass.

Tilting the front forward on the Triumph reveals the 1,147cc 4-cylinder engine. This should produce 67hp, which finds its way to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. These are not a high-performance car, and they will struggle to reach a top speed of 92mph. It appears that the Spitfire is mechanically original, and it does run and drive. The engine and transmission are said to be in good health, with no issues to report. The hydraulics for the brake and clutch work as they should, but the brakes do need some attention before the vehicle could be considered to be fully roadworthy. The original owner was an elderly lady, and she drove the Triumph on a semi-regular basis for many years. However, she stopped using the car towards the end of her life, so it has been sitting for an extended period. Therefore, a full check would probably be a wise move. One area of the Spitfire that does come in for criticism is its performance on the highway. It will cruise at highway speeds, but owners state that the car can be noisy, with the engine sounding “busy.” If the buyer isn’t focused on complete originality, there could be a fantastic option open to them. A commercially available kit will allow a 5-speed Ford T9 transmission to be slotted in place of the standard 4-speed. This added ratio gives the Spitfire an improvement in flexibility around town, but the overdrive 5th gear makes it a more relaxed vehicle on the open road. However, this kit does come at a cost. Are you sitting down? The complete kit, including the transmission, will set you back $4,000. It isn’t cheap, but it could be worth considering. One of the kit’s added attractions is that it is fully reversible if the next owner decides to return the vehicle to its original specifications at some point.

The interior of the Spitfire is quite serviceable as it currently stands, but it will require attention if it is to present to a high standard. The carpet is new, but the section below the shifter is worn and faded. The seat covers are looking tired, while the dash pad is cracked. The rest of the dash and the gauges appear to be in good condition, and I think that the door trims would look pretty nice if cleaned properly. None of this work is urgent, and if the buyer chooses to drive the car as an original survivor, this interior should be up to that task.

If I were to buy this 1965 Spitfire, I would have no hesitation in stripping it entirely and restoring it from end-to-end. I believe that its overall condition would justify this, and I am sure that I would be driving out of my workshop in a British classic that would be bound to turn heads. These are not a car that commands a huge price, and there are plenty of tidy examples to be found for around $15,000. However, if the new owner is prepared to be “hands-on” in their approach, it is a project that could be financially viable. If a classic British sports car is on your radar, then this is one that might be worth watching closely.

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Comments

  1. Mike Hawke

    better off finding a properly restored one than stepping into this briar patch

    Like 6
  2. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Had one back in my college days as a commuter car. It was one thing after another with that thing, electrical being the worst. Other thrills were if it was parked nose high (till I found and fixed it), the clutch lost all it’s fluid. The lines to the carbs would come off at times and even had the steering column come unhooked from the steering gear one time.
    I spent my time in Hades with that one, and wouldn’t buy another.

    Like 5
    • kiteflier

      Aw.. the doors of Hades are locked from the inside.

      Hitched a ride in a buddy’s Spit in the summer of 1970 from Chicago to San Francisco. It was epic. We only had shorts and T shirts and almost froze in the Sierras when the d–n carbs needed adjusting.

      Like 5
      • 86_Vette_Convertible

        Could have been worse, mine the heater didn’t work till spring. I got real good scraping the inside of the windshield with a credit card while driving.

        Like 1
  3. John B. Mc

    I had a ‘65 in the early 70’s. The amount of rust was overwhelming considering it’s age; but the throwing of piston rods was it’s single most fault. For the time spent working on it the amount of miles driven was pathetic! It turned me against all foreign cars. Thankful it is gone!

    Like 1
  4. Andrew S Mace Member

    This just might be the “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” of Spitfires: All it needs is a little love. Ok, a LOT of love! It looks to be a great car for a skilled hobbyist; not so great for one whose concept of restoration is to simply drain the savings and the 401k and hope for the best.

    Like 4
  5. Michelle rand

    I will counter the couple of negative comments here, got one in restoration yes I know that is nuts no need to point it out, very fun to drive, best iteration of the Michelotti design, and gaining favor in the market for whatever that is worth. If you inherit someone else’s bad habits in upkeep, they are a nightmare. If properly kept up and driven semi regularly, can become reliable. They were cheap cars so folks often didn’t have the wherewithal to maintain them.

    Like 7
    • JMB#7

      I agree with all of your comments. Best iteration of Michelotte design. Yes, the curves on the rear quarters are the most appealing and artistic. Leave the chopped off tail look for the TR6. This version is a sculpture.

      Like 2
  6. Little_Cars

    This obviously is a steel wheel Spit with those awful wire wheel covers looking gaudy and cheep. I wish I’d seen this one before extracting my “little old lady” 1970 Spitfire from a field in Eagleville, TN ten years ago. Price seems about right even though that resale red paint extending into the engine bay is a bit much for my taste.

    Like 2
  7. Dennis

    Honestly, I don’t get the lack of love for this little Triumph. Back in the 70’s, a small group of us all had British sports cars (except for the Saab guy). I was an MGB guy the other three had Tr’s, one TR4 and two Spitfires.

    We worked on them together, and yes, the two Spit’s required more attention than the TR4 or my MGB. But these cars are about fun, and part of that fun is doing the required maintenance.

    This car looks to me a solid and worthy weekend toy. The price right now, $4500 is pretty reasonable, it shouldn’t go much higher, who knows?

    These are funky but fun to throw around the hills and curves, looks good to me.

    Like 8
    • Russell

      “fun to throw around the hills ” especially when one of the rear wheels lifts and folds under the car on a tight curve… the first time it happens to you and/or you see it happening to another … wow

      Like 1
      • RayZ

        Never happen, had a MKIII when I was 16 and I drove it like I stoled it. Spun it slid it never lifted. The tires were to skinny and the weight was to balanced.

        Like 2
      • Little_Cars

        @ RayZ–

        “like I stole it” no “ed” on the end.

        “Too skinny,” “Too balanced.” need the extra “o.”

        My childhood English teachers thank you.

        Like 2
  8. JMB#7

    Fun cars to drive. Easy to work on. At the current price (unless there is major rust hiding) it would make a great hobby car & weekend driver. As for wiring… there just isn’t much wiring to go through on these. Buy it, put some wheels & tires on it that suit your tastes, and go have some fun. If you would rather dump money into a full restoration, go find a Porsche 911.

    Like 2
  9. Pete

    This was my first car in 1976. Mine had the floor boards rusted out. No canvas on the top. Ran on 3 out of 4 cylinders. Brakes were spongey. After I was done , I had $150 in buying the car and dragging it home. Parts and labor, insurance and tag. I had $483.00 in it. First full day of driving it home from high school I had it up on two tires, set it back down and did a 360 in front of god and everybody in my high school as well as a deputy sheriff coming from the other direction. I told him my throttle got stuck. I was in fact acting a fool. This one is in far better shape than mine was when I got it.

    Like 3
    • Little_Cars

      35 years later this is what I dragged home, Pete. Evidently they rusted right away if you let them sit in a field?

      Like 3
  10. Stephen Coe

    Me And brother had 2 his 63 mine 64 paid 700 each this was 69 so 5 & 6 year old car almost rusted to nothing in a very shout time but fun to drive,when you are 16 living at VA Beach VA IT WAS A FUN CAR MINE DIED IN 72. My brother traded his for a Sprite. & I still have a Brit car bad habit, 58 MGA COUPE ,67 MGB,& 3 79 MGB, GOT 3 grandkids they each have an MG B.

    Like 1
  11. Little_Cars

    Virginia, where I was born and raised Stephen! Hard to quit the British car habit once you get a dose. My infant son has his eyes set on taking over maintenance on my MG Midget.

    Like 1

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