Triumph Spitfire Buying Guide
In addition to the items listed in the general Triumph Buyers Guide , there are a number of specific items of interest on the Spitfire.
Parts availability for the Spitfire is excellent, with a number of major suppliers providing most parts for the Spitfire, ranging from tune up components and interior kits to most body panels.
There are two stages in checking the quality of a potential Spitfire purchase. Make a list of all the areas you intend to inspect and stick to the list.
First Stage-walk around
- Body: One of the most important things to watch for on the Spitfire, as with all Triumphs, is rust. Rust coming through the paint generally indicates that there is 5 to 10 times more rust lurking beneath the body panels. Where does one look for rust on a Spitfire, other then everywhere?
Look for areas that have been repainted, especially over possible rust. Is the car the original color? Look closely for body filler and lumps around the fenders and trunk. (If appropriate, lightly run your hand across the finish to feel for small bumps or dents). Be sure to pay particular attention to the following areas:
- Under the carpets at the front of footwells, underneath the driver's pedals, and along the seat rails.
- Under the bonnet, particularly behind the rear wheels, and at the hinge mounting points where the bonnet is attached to the frame.
- In the engine compartment around the battery box, and under the hydraulic master cylinders, where leaking fluids may have removed paint, allowing rust to spread.
- Interior: Open and close each door for fit. Look for rust and check color. Check the rocker panels for rust/repair. Examine door panels and raise/lower windows. Test locks. Upholstery on seats should be free from cracks. Check under seats for disintigrating seat foams. Slide seats forward and back. Check the carpet for wear. Sneak a peek under the front carpet for floorboard rust, replacement for damage. Cracked dash? Look for the original steering wheel, ash tray, map light, glove box compartment(s). Seatbelts should be attached and not excessively worn. Spare tire and jack?
- Electrical: There are no particularly unusual electrical problems on the Spitfire, other than the typical problems common to nearly all British cars. Check all lights and plastic parts for damage. Be sure to test headlights (bright/dim), turn signals, backup, and brake lights.
Also check the chrome for the the quality of the finish, dents or missing parts. Front windscreen should be free from scratches. Convertible top should fit, back windows clear, studs secure, and stitching firm.
While standing about 10 feet away, check each side of the car for the alignment of the doors. Poor door alignment could indicate a bad frame or rusted rocker panels. Check the front and back for "lean" or suspension/chassis defects. Try bouncing the corners to check the shocks.
Second Stage-More detail
- Body fit: Open the bonnet latches and check fit, dents, or twisting. Look for rust inside around lights and wheel arches. Check A-post for corrosion around attachment to door sill. Open boot and check hinges and edges for rust. Check doors again for proper fit. Look for corrosion in footwells and examine inner sills to floor pan. Check under rear wheel arches.
- Mechanical: Check fluids and belts. Start engine and check hand brake, brake and clutch pedals. Listen and look for exhaust problems. Engine should be appropriately clean. Look for oil/water leaks and mystery parts. Listen for knocking, grinding, banging, rattling, or loud ticking.
- Test Drive: Try the gears while parked. Move in reverse first. The car should not "jump" out of gear (gearbox). Now try first gear and continue through each gear, checking for smooth opperation. Tire wear can cause the car to pull to one side. Brakes can also pull. Uphill climbing should be without labor. Listen for bearing noise. Check for vibration in the steering wheel.
PricesThe prices given below are determined by the author's experience, and are not necessarily indicative of prices in your area.
Restored - 100% as new, 95 points min concourse
Excellent - mostly restored or superb original
Amateur partly restored, or very good original
Good, complete, runs and drives well
Fair, drivable, needs minor repairs, but complete
Poor, not too incomplete, not badly rusted/damaged
Poor, rough, incomplete, damaged, or badly rusted
Remember, these are values based on a normal (non duress) situation. If you are trying to sell a Spitfire (or any collector car for that matter) in a hurry (i.e. divorce settlements, need immediate cash to close on the new house, etc.) then prices can be lower, especially in winter months in the northern states. Price valuations from appraiser's are usually given to estimate the cost of replacement.