The People's Sports Car
We British have always been an interesting bunch. The weather is always too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry, but when we find something we like, then we adore it and celebrate it. Something I believe has not been celebrated enough is the Triumph Spitfire.
Back in 1962 when the Triumph Spitfire 4 (MK 1) was first released to the public it raised many eyebrows, at a price of £641 it was more expensive than the Austin-Healey Sprite at £587, its main competitor of the day, but the Spitfire still managed to outsell the Sprite every year of production except one, due to workforce strikes. Just by looking at it you can see why.
The stunning curves and design by the extremely successful Italian designer were based on a modified Herald chassis. The simple but effective Austin A30/35 drivetrain and a lightweight body made even the most stone-hearted blush, and the 1,147cc inline 4 cylinder engine producing a top speed of 92mph, doing 0-60 in approximately 16.5 seconds. This may not sound impressive today, but was quite competitive in the small sports car category in the day. Later upgrades like an overdrive option from the MK2 onwards and a bigger engine added on the later models, firstly to a 1,296cc from the MK3 in 1967 then to a 1,493cc for the last 1500 model from 1974 to 1980.
After the end of the Spitfire in 1980 everything began to go downhill for Triumph. The new cars like the TR7 were so poor and built up a reputation for the company of shoddy quality and next to no development, which meant that the production of the true British sports cars basically ceased to exist.
The Spitfire to many has always been the essence of the British car, a car which almost everybody might one day own. It puts the idea within touching distance, a true peoples sports car. It is one of those cars that when you see it driving down the street, you can't help but smile and wish you were the one driving it.
While it doesn't have the racing history of cars like the Austin Healy Sprite or the Jaguar E-Type, the Spitfire has always had a dedicated and loyal following from those who appreciate a beautiful truly classic British sports car.
This is a car I have long wished to drive and one I will continue to dream to own, as have many others over time.