Running Barn Find: 1964 Triumph Spitfire

$9,500 seems like a fair deal for a rust-free, bondo-free Triumph Spitfire that runs under its own power, and comes with the factory hardtop. The seller claim this specimen was hiding out in a New Hampshire barn before he dragged it home, and thankfully not much dragging needed to be done since it’s currently a runner. This is a Mark I model, which comes with minor styling elements not shared on later models, like the pretty chrome bumpers and color-matched steel wheels with hubcaps. The seller calls this one 100% original, and based on the appearance in photos, there’s little reason to dispute that claim. Find it here on craigslist in Glastonbury, Connecticut.

Growing up, a friend’s dad was a big fan of Spitfires. He had one that was a gorgeous example, a later model that was absolutely turn key. They’d drive it out to Lime Rock in the summer, and while the ride was quite warm inside the cockpit on a summer day, it was a great choice for some of the roads leading to the road racing center of the east. The Spitfire earned a lousy reputation in the earliest years of production for dodgy handling, and various remedies were introduced on second and third generation models to eliminate some of the frightening oversteer that road testers originally experienced. Clearly, this Mark 1 avoided being put into the weeds by its previous caretakers.

The Spitfire was always an exotic-looking car, but not necessarily capable of exotic-grade performance. The clamshell hood almost always gets the attention of passers-by, but it wasn’t hiding anything particularly sporting. The Spitfire made do with mechanical bits from the Triumph Herald, with some minor adjustments to eek out some additional performance from the four-cylinder mill. Performance wasn’t earth shattering; it maxed out at just under 100 m.p.h. and ran to 60 in a little over 16 seconds. Fortunately, like many sports cars from this era, you’re close to the ground and everything around you, so it likely feels far faster than it really is.

The same friend whose dad owned the Spitfire eventually stepped into a GT6, which was a serious upgrade over the four-cylinder model. Ironically enough, my buddy owned a Sunbeam Alpine and, of course, always wanted the Tiger; as a young’un, his dad smartly decided it was best to not hand a 17 year old driver a V8 powered British roadster. The Spitfire as it sits here looks like a clean survivor with healthy running gear and no obvious alterations from stock. Throw in the factory hardtop and good chrome/paint, and it becomes even more compelling as a sensible entry into British sportscar ownership. What’s your favorite generation of Spitfire?

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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Nice to see something that old in original condition. Their handling problems were the same as the VW Beetles… swing axles in the rear that the aftermarket suspension guys jumped on quickly. One of the other problems that bit them was the fact that the engine only had “half moon” crankshaft thrust bearings rather than the full circle ones like BMC engines had. Wore out fast and didn’t do the rod bearings and timing chains any good at all. Fun cars and made great race cars. Don’t see the factory hard tops much at all. Didn’t see a lot of them when the cars were new either.

    Like 5
  2. chgrec Member

    Nice looking original car that takes me back to when a buddy & I put a GT6 engine and front springs into his spitfire. Made the car behave so much better….Such fun little cars.

    Like 4
  3. JRHaelig

    So, remember the Big and Rich song “8th of November”?

    The hero of the song is Niles Harris and he was my 1st Sergeant in Germany in the early 80’s.

    He had a primer black Spitfire. I remember the clamshell hood open and Top Harris sitting on the tire to fiddle with (no surprise) something electrical.

    Like 1
  4. MarveH

    My first ride in a convertible was in a Spitfire. A guy a worked with had me over to his house to help him lift the Spitty’s engine back in after a refresh. He wrapped a chain around the block and we put a gad pipe through the loops and lifted it in. A week later he picked my up for a ride, stoked my fire for little sports cars.
    As to hard tops for convertibles, I file that under the “seems like a good idea at the time” folder. Now days, few people would drive a Spitfire or MG rear round so the hardtop is a nuisance. It ends up being a garage obstacle collecting boxes, old rags, and tarps as it gets shuffled from corner to corner.

  5. BobW

    Not even close to original.
    Paint looks to be a repaint, engine compartment should be body color, Radiator expansion tank missing, different Radiator, later model front signal lights, “Spitfire4” script looks to be missing from boot lid, wrong color wheels are obvious at first glance.
    $9500.00 is wildly optimistic.

    Like 2
    • JagManBill

      BobW – paint might be original – looks like someone had a good time with a can of flat back under the bonnet at some point; Master cyl is late style; wheels would have been silver and not body color – which is the point I will agree with Bob and say that as body color they look nice and since they match the body gonna guess its a repaint; Radiator – looks like the original on my 64;

      as for the rear wheel tuck-under that was so prevalent on these you can get what is called a “camber compensator”. OR, you can add a spacer block under the rear leaf which will do a decent job of the same thing. We just run a block under the spring on the 63 racer;

  6. bobhess bobhess Member

    When these cars came out a lot of young folks bought them as their only mode of transportation. I was one of those folks. The first accessory I bought was a hard top to go on my ’62 MG Midget as the Air Force sent me to Empire, MI on the NW coast of the lower peninsula. It got it’s gold star several times when we got the average 3 feet of lake effect snow in winter. Did a lot of cross country in the car and the only reason my divorce didn’t come sooner was because of the hard top.

  7. JagManBill

    I’d like to see the floors…

    Like 1
  8. Daniel Gavin

    Don’t get hit in this by anything larger than a go cart !!!

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