Sunday, April 9, 2017

Show Car Sunday returns with a sleek British sports car - Spitfire!

Spring has sprung and the weather here in NYC today is beautiful so it's time to break out some sporty fair weather rides. Check out the following perfect East Village scene where the car and house behind it seem to go together flawlessly:
This is a 1969 Triumph Spitfire Mk3 in Black. It is beautiful, sporty, and as classy as can be.
Look at this fresh faced little looker!
It's hard to imagine a more eager, happy car with its big chrome smile and bright eyes. Are you telling me you wouldn't accept if this car asked you out on a date?
The one blemish on this entire vehicle is the dot on the center of the bumper. What would Lauren Hutton be without the gap in her smile, or Kirk Douglas without a cleft chin? Unfortunately we can see from the angle of the bumper that it has been in a minor parking scuffle. A pox on the house of whoever backed into this beauty!
Austin-Healey came out with the sporty Sprite in '58 and Triumph decide to counter with their own drop top. The Spitfire was introduced in 1962 based on the underpinnings of the Triumph Herald. I happen to love the Herald as well which was a more upright passenger car.
This ride is sporting a set of original knock-off spoke wheels. The center is a huge bolt that requires a large wrench. You can use a mallet on the wrench to "knock off" the wheels. Legit!
This handle is just behind the front wheels. When both sides are pulled you can lift the entire front end forward on hinges to work on the engine. When the front is open you have remarkable access for repairs since only the lowest edge of the body remains.
This thing looks like pure fun. They came from the factory with a soft convertible top but hardtops were available too.
Those dual exhausts are connected to a 1296cc inline 4 cylinder engine good for a mere 75 or so horsepower. Being that this is such a diminutive car it was enough for a 95mph top speed (that's PLENTY when you're almost sitting on the ground looking up at the bumpers of cars around you!). Mileage was good too averaging around 33mpg. Automatics transmissions were NOT available thankfully. This is a sports car, remember? 
The Mark III ran from '67-'70 and represented the first major facelift of what was a less sexy Spitfire (in my opinion). In many ways this is the best era for a U.S. spec Spitfire. Starting in 1970 changes were made to comply with safety and emissions regulations. The '69 retains its purity.
I want to run up and jump into this thing to make my escape!
The gas cap is that chrome circle on the top center of the body. Filling up without spilling a drop is almost impossible! Some care goes into maintaining this mirror finish.
This is a straight-up pure sports car interior. Not only is there no radio, there is no place for a radio! There were radios available to be installed from the dealership that were mounted under the center dash. That dash is made of wood for the last time in '69, to be replaced with a matte black finish in '70. Dig the ashtray on the dash top! Armrests? Forget it.
British cars from this era all share a fatal flaw: Lucas wiring. The weaknesses and quirks of British automotive wiring are legendary, with ever a slight drizzle causing the car to stall, lights to go out, horn to stick on, etc. If you pick any British sports car up I HIGHLY recommend redoing the entire wiring harness immediately. We're talking seriously basic wiring by the way, especially on these earlier models.
For such a wonderfully sexy little car you don't even have to shell out much cash. I found several well maintained examples for sale under $10,000 and even a museum condition show car seems to top out around 15. With a garage space, wiring diagram, and a little tinkering you could have yourself a hilariously fun summertime cruiser for the price of a used Honda. On days like today when the sun is shining and temp climbing into the 60s I can't imagine a better ride.

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