1976 Triumph Spitfire 1500 1.5 from North America
A fun, inexpensive 4 wheel alternative to a motorcycle
Bought as a rebuild project for $300.00. Rebuilt engine; cam with Weber carb and manifold; 9:1 pistons; reground street performance cam; overhauled transmission; rebuilt front end; rebuilt brakes; clutch; etc. and performed 30+ years of deferred maintenance.
Only real fault was the left front vertical link and trunnion snapped off while driving at about 15 mph!
I had TR4's back in the day, but they are overpriced and serious rusters. So I purchased a pair of Spitfires for $1400.00 (1976.. $300.00 & 1978... $1100.00) with excellent bodies (no rust at all), decent interiors, and the 1978 ran well (OD equipped), but needed typical tune up and maintenance work. The 1976 did not run, so I completely rebuilt it with upgraded performance parts.
The cars are surprisingly good performers with all the pollution equipment removed and performance upgrades. The Webers, higher compression pistons and cam really give them a kick in the pants. Headers (4 into 1) are OK, but required some frame modification to fit.
The car handles very well, although it takes some getting used to non-power brakes. Watch out for the vertical link trunnions, which are fragile. Hit a curb hard and bend them, and they come apart.
I'm 6' tall, and it's a comfortable fit with everything within arms reach. The car is incredibly easy to work on, and parts are cheap and readily available. I don't think you could ask for a more fun car at the price. I had someone ask me if they were difficult to maintain. I told them "Not if you're a Triumph mechanic." Get the manual, expect to do your own work, learn about your car, and carry tools in the trunk.
When I showed up with the Triumphs, I told my wife that we could go touring up in the mountains with the top down with my 2 sons. "But they only have 2 seats" she replied. "That's why I bought two of them!" I said. She won't ride motorcycles with me anymore, and these Spitfires are as close to a motorcycle as you can come with 4 wheels.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 9th May, 2011