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!
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.
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 -