1976 Triumph Spitfire 1500 Roadster
|Engine||In-line 4-cylinder, 1493cc|
|Gearbox||4 ? Speed Manual|
Conceived with the intention of taking on BMC's Sprite/Midget range, the Triumph Spitfire was launched in 1962. A sporty little roadster, based on proven mechanical components from the Standard parts bin, the Spitfire was styled by an Italian, Giovanni Michelotti, with whom Triumph enjoyed an association dating back to 1956. Michelotti succeeded in creating a fresh, clean shape that lasted well for into the next decade. With such niceties as wind-up windows (the Spridgets still had side screens) and a novel one-piece bonnet to provide excellent access to the engine compartment, the Spitfire was otherwise every inch the Spartan roadster in the finest British tradition. Mechanically, the Spitfire ran twin SUs to add zest to the little four-cylinder engine, developing a healthy 63bhp at 5750rpm and drive was delivered to the rear wheels through a four-speed gearbox (overdrive became an option from September 1963). The Spitfire was based on a heavily reworked Herald platform, utilising the rack and pinion steering, independent double wishbone-type front suspension and swing axles at the rear from that model. Originally badged the Spitfire 4, the first series - with 1147cc engines - have been retrospectively dubbed the Mark I and remained in production until the end of 1964, with 45,753 built in total. The Spitfire went through many subsequent incarnations before production finally ceased in 1981 and enjoyed great sales success, outselling the Midget in every year of production bar one. Spitfires achieved plenty of fine results on the track as well, placing first and second in class at Le Mans in 1965. For an inexpensive, easily maintained and rewarding British sports car, one need look no further than Triumph's Spitfire.