The Triumph Spitfire was the E Type for the smaller budget

When I was young, I was fascinated by British vehicles, and the fascination didn't stop at roadsters either. A Triumph Spitfire was in the selection many years ago - against an MGB. It ended up being the MG, which wasn't quite a fair comparison, just the better roadster.

Not fair because the MGB was a notch higher in terms of both performance and price. Still, the Spitfire was a popular, rugged roadster in its day. It was what you would expect from a traditional English car brand. With a lot of flair and the comparison with the Jaguar E Type is no coincidence. Let's turn the ignition key and start the Spiti!

Triumph Spitfire 1500
Triumph Spitfire 1500

The Triumph Spitfire - tough and hearty

The Spitfire is small, quite small. And he's light. A length of just 3,68 meters meets a maximum curb weight of 815 kilograms. Actually, the Triumph mainly consists of a long bonnet, behind which the driver and front passenger plus possible luggage share the remaining, cramped area.

You only really reflect on the bonnet at the moment when you have got behind the steering wheel. From this perspective, it is tremendous, it builds up in front of the person behind the wheel and harbors associations with the Jaguar E Type. That's fun, even though the Spitfire itself is a pretty rudimentary vehicle, with chassis designed to be rock solid.

You literally sit on the road and think you can feel every grain of dust you drive over, while the 1,5 liter engine unleashes its 71 hp on the 800 kg vehicle weight. All this happens with an impressive, sporty soundscape, which is amplified by the sports exhaust system that is usually present, which protrudes only centimeters behind the passengers.

Driving a Triumph Spitfire is a story for all the senses. There is no power steering, no ABS, no ESP and no thing that scans, controls, monitors. There are only the riders and their machines, and it's so pure and unfiltered that it was already cool when the little roadster was being produced.

The Spitfire was not entirely unproblematic, it must be admitted beyond British folklore. Contrary to popular belief, this does not concern its allegedly pronounced lack of reliability. A car, and especially one from the Leyland era, is only as reliable as it is cared for. The criticism concerns the handling. The chassis with its swing axle tended to oversteer in hard driving situations, the rear developed a life of its own and the driver had to catch it himself. If he was able to do so.

I liked the Spitfire that I test drove back then, but ended up getting the MGB (Link), which was simply the more mature car.

Historic Triumph Spitfire advertisement
Historic Triumph Spitfire advertisement

The Triumph Spitfire is a Leyland Spitfire

In 1977, Leyland advertised the Spitfire 1500, the last version before production ended in 1980. Copywriting is always a thing, but in the case of this ad, 90% of the time you can sign it. The Spitfire top can indeed be opened and closed in seconds, no currently produced textile top car can match that. In fact, it is one of the last real roadsters, puristic, robust, without anything that could be annoying.

The misery of the British car industry under the Leyland name also embodies this advertising. Apparently, the idea of ​​marketing the traditional Triumph Spitfire as the Leyland Spitfire only comes up after you have looked deep into the glass of Scottish whiskey in preparation.

Unfortunately, the Triumph car brand is history. The trademark rights came from the Rover Group at BMW (Link) where people philosophize about a possible comeback every few years. which has been rejected time and time again. Revitalizing the brand does not take place, which can be regretted or welcomed.

At least Triumph can rest in honor, while former rival MG celebrates success as a Chinese revenant (Link), but the traditionalists suffer.

Driving a Triumph is still possible today without any problems. The Spitfire are simple, refreshingly pure, and charming. lively clubs (Link) take care of the Triumph vehicle stock, the spare parts situation is considered relaxed and the components from the island are still affordable.

- Sequel follows -

7 thoughts on "The Triumph Spitfire was the E Type for the smaller budget"

  • blank

    Reading brings up longings and memories.

    My first car was a 1967 MK II. That was in 1979 and I had just turned 18.

    With some optimization and the generous use of lathes and milling machines, we then got a full performance out of the small engine. Since I went a little too far with drilling, it was always a little warmer in the engine compartment.

    Countless curves that were hopped around more than driven and many enjoyable hours Spiti and I were on the road together and of course also in winter, whenever possible, open. A warm hat on top and, thanks to the leather passenger compartment cover, Stiebel-Eltron warmth on the bottom.

    How many hours have I been working on my blue Spiti and chasing the brown devil that is destroying it? My father always said that every helicopter had a better maintenance time to flight time ratio than my beloved Spiti.

    Where do you think he is today, my Spitfire?

  • Apparently the same age dear Tom, I drive a nice white TR 6, built in 1973, 2500ccm, overdrive...oh yes....

    • Yes, definitely. Same era, so to speak. A TR 6 is also very tasty.

  • blank

    She is a real spitfire...

    Only once for classification and because it is so beautiful. Spitfire means something like house dragon and has female connotations. Actually, it should have been called THE Triumph Spitfire in the historical advertisement.

    Anyway, since Nazis are stupid, I find it very charming that the Brits let loose their kites first in the air and later on land. There is something. I like the British very much. The only thing that bothers me is Brexit. But that's mostly how it is for them.

    • This and that is a difficult question. I flash back to the DS, which has often been a topic here. Citroën Germany spoke of her as “the DS”. Will be online soon.

  • blank

    My 1st car was a Spiti Mk 2 with 6 lights and roll bar; I had in 1970 in Ffm from a mechanical engineer. bought for 3.200 DM. As a technically untalented person, I was often in despair with the choke. Forgot to push it back which then caused the plane to sink. The workshop was happy and had to clean the carburetors.
    My 2nd vehicle was a Spiti Mk 4 bought from the dealer. Was probably a "Monday car" that needed a new clutch every 8.000 km. The sad highlight after such a repair was that the flywheel came loose on a trip to the Baltic Sea near Bielefeld; was fastened with the wrong torque. My 3rd car was an MGB, which reached 190 km/h on a slightly sloping road. Great car, I was very happy with it. Then exchanged it for a Jaguar XJ 6 Series 1 and met my first wife. That's it for now.

    • Exciting. Then my decision for the MGB was the right one after all. Thanks!

Comments are closed.