The Triumph Spitfire is a small British two-seat sports car, introduced at the London Motor Show in 1962 and manufactured between 1962 and 1980. The vehicle was based on a design produced for Standard-Triumph in 1957 by Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti. The car was largely based upon the chassis of the Triumph Herald saloon, but shortened and without the Herald's outrigger sections. The Herald's running gear and Standard SC engine were also carried over. The Spitfire was manufactured at the Standard-Triumph works at Canley, in Coventry.
The bodywork was fitted to a separate structural chassis, but for the open-top convertible Spitfire the backbone chassis' rigidity was augmented by the use of structural components within the bodywork, with the rear trailing arms being bolted to the body rather than the chassis. The Spitfire was provided with a manual soft-top for weather protection, the design improving to a folding hood for later models. Factory-manufactured hard-tops were also available.
The Triumph Spitfire was originally devised by Standard-Triumph to compete in the small sports car market that had opened up with the introduction of the Austin-Healey Sprite. The Sprite had used the basic drive train of the Austin A30/A35 in a light body to make up a budget sports car; Triumph's idea was to use the mechanicals from their small saloon, the Herald, to underpin the new project, this made the vehicle a classic parts bin special. Triumph had one advantage, however; where the Austin A30 range was of unitary construction, the Herald featured a separate chassis. It was Triumph's intention to cut that chassis down and give it a sporty body, saving the costs of developing a completely new chassis-body unit.
Italian designer Michelotti—who had already designed the Herald—was commissioned for the new project, and came up with a traditional, swooping body. Wind-up windows were provided (in contrast to the Sprite and Midget, which still featured side screens, also called curtains, at that time), as well as a single-piece front end which tilted forwards to offer easy access to the engine. In the early 1960s, however, Standard-Triumph was in deep financial trouble, and unable to put the new car into production; it was not until the company was taken over by the Leyland organization that funds became available and the car was launched. Leyland officials, taking stock of their new acquisition, found Michelotti's prototype hiding under a dust sheet in a corner of the factory and rapidly approved it for production.
The Spitfire was named to honour the World War II fighter plane of the same name.
In March 1965 the Spitfire Mark II was launched. It was very similar to the Mark I but featured a more highly tuned engine with a revised camshaft profile, a water-heated intake manifold, and a tubular exhaust manifold, increasing power to 67 bhp at 6,000 rpm. The coil-spring design clutch of the Mark I was replaced with a Borg & Beck diaphragm spring clutch; North American models retained the coil-spring housing and were also equipped with ACDelco distributors. The exterior trim was modified with a new grille and badges. The interior trim was improved with redesigned seats and by covering most of the exposed surfaces with rubber cloth. The original moulded rubber floor coverings were replaced with moulded carpets.
Top speed was claimed to be 96 mph and its 0–60 mph time of 14.8 seconds was considered "lively". The factory claimed that at highway speeds (70 mph (110 km/h)) the car achieved 38.1 miles per imperial gallon.
This freshly restored example is out of the "In the Wrapper" Collection and is like all the other cars in the collection in as new condition, and ready for either the most demanding Concours or the Road! Finished in a really unusual and exciting color combination, this Spirfire will be a certain star no matter where you take it. It is not often you see a Spitfire restored to this level- this is the one to buy if you are looking for the best one out there!