Originally a concept in 1957, Standard-Triumph tasked the Italian designed Giovanni Michelotti with developing a car to compete in the small sports-car market created by the introduction of the Austin-Healey 'Frogeye' Sprite and MG Midget. Michelloti, famed for the creation of many Italian exotics such as Ferrari and Maserati and who had already designed the Triumph Herald, came up with a new swooping design, with the car featuring wind-up windows, as opposed to the Sprite and Midgets more agricultural side-screens, as well as a clever single-piece front end which could be tilted forward in order to provide easier engine servicing.
During its 18 year production the Spitfire was developed from the basic Spitfire 4 / Mk1 (a 1147cc 4 cylinder, hence '4'...which indicated the chance of a 6 cylinder variant possibly shared from the 1600 Vitesse) through to the '1500' model introduced in 1974, now featuring a 1500cc engine with the options such as an Overdrive gearbox and Hardtop. Driver / passenger comfort improved dramatically through the cars development too; from rubber mats to a carpeted interior, improved instrumentation, a full fold away soft-top, reclining seats featuring headrest plus numerous revisions which improved safety and drivability, the most notable being a complete redesign of the rear axle, which helped to eliminate 'tuck-in / oversteer' which in turn made the Spitfire one of the best handling small sports-cars in the market place.
By 1980 and with circa 300,000 units built the Spitfire could no longer meet US safety regulations and the last example an Inca Yellow, UK market example, chassis 009898 ran off the Cranley production line in August 1980.
Absolute Classic Cars are delighted to offer this exceptional 1500 Spitfire. Registered in May 1981, 10 months after production ceased, chassis 009792 (169 from production end) is confirmed as an original UK market, 4 speed manual example and is finished in Vermillion Red with contrasting black interior.
Her history file confirms that after a period of long term ownership the Spitfire was sold to her new keeper in 2007. A useable example, but needing work the Spitfire was taken off the road and during a two year period the car was subject to a £20,000 photographic restoration, with works including:
- Full body / chassis strip down with all remedial panel work carried out to an exceptionally high standard, no weld marks or joints visible prior to body preparation and respray in her Vermillion Red. The chassis was sent away for media blasting, repairs as necessary, rust treated and painted black.
- Suspension - all components removed and inspected. All new bushes, new shock-absorbers and all other items painted / powder-coated.
- Front / Rear axle - components stripped, checked for wear and replaced as required - new wheel bearings, new hubs fitted to accept new chrome wire wheels / tyres.
- Engine - stripped and checked for wear. All worn items replaced, new water pump, bearings, crank reground, new gaskets and rebuilt with alloy rocker-cover.
- Gearbox - checked for wear, new clutch, servo, new gaskets and resealed.
- Braking system - all new hoses, rebuilt brake servo, master cylinder, new calipers, discs, rebuilt rear drums, new hoses etc.
Once all the main chassis work was completed the chassis was built up to a rolling chassis and fitted to the freshly restored body.
- Fuel system - fuel tank cleaned, carburettors rebuilt, new fuel pump.
- Exhaust - new stainless steel system.
- Chrome - front / rear bumper hard-wear all stripped and powder-coated and chrome-work stripped and plated.
- Front screen rubber replaced, new chrome inserts.
- Hood frame replaced and new mohair hood
- New carpet set, door panels, new dash veneer.
- Seats fully stripped, all new foam and trimmed in leather.
- Moto-Lita wood rimmed steering wheel.
Amazingly since her detailed restoration the Spitfire has travelled less than 500 miles and as such she looks spectacular, by far and away the best we've seen and on opening the door and sitting in the wonderful restored leather interior one can't help but feel a sense of anticipation, "will she drive as well as she looks?" The answer is an emphatic "YES!" The rebuilt 1500 engine starts easily and on pulling away she changes gear smoothly and sings a sweet tune through her Stainless Steel exhaust system. Most notable has to be the complete lack or rattles etc as often found in cars of this period (the 'Leyland' years), we'd say in many ways she's better than new.
A properly restored example, this Spitfire is a real joy, she offers all the fun of open air motoring, the delights of classic car ownership and is easily capable of weekends away (we've even included a picnic hamper, with Champagne for the new owner) and we feel that there's no reason this car can't be maintained at this high level if cherished as her owners have done over the last 22yrs, she's an absolute gem!
Triumph Spitfire 1492cc, MK4 model 1981, original first owner (Pharmacist)
first paint!! original interieur, The Spitfire war designed by Giovanni Michelotti in 1957.Production was from 1962 -1981......