Skip to main content

Haynes’ World: We buy a Mk4 Triumph Spitfire!

Haynes World our cars

Haynes' World is a regular feature that takes a look at what the staff at Haynes are doing with their cars, bikes and other vehicles. This time, product manager Nigel Donnelly tells us about his classic Triumph Spitfire.

Triumph Spitfire interior Haynes

Car: 1972 Triumph Spitfire Mk4

Owner: Nigel Donnelly

Winter isn’t the time for buying little open-topped classic cars. I also don’t need any projects. I already have an air-cooled Volkswagen to plump my overdraft but when a friend announced that he needed to offload a classic British sports car to make room on his driveway for a new car, I made the mistake of asking a couple of questions. A week later, I was driving it home.

The car in question is a 1972 Triumph Spitfire Mk4. It is a pretty early Mk4 so has a black plastic dashboard rather than a later wooden one.

It is pretty scruffy all over, but happily, it appears to be free of rot. It is also free of shine. It looks like it is painted in Tipp-Ex. 

It is white with a black interior, although the British Motor Industry Heritage Certificate I ordered says it was originally brown with a tan interior. The car was restored in the 1990s and this is when the colour was changed. Brown cars may have crept back into acceptability in recent years but no-one wanted brown cars in the 1990s.

It has kept its original 1300cc engine, although it does not have the desirable overdrive option. Shame.

Triumph Spitfire Mk4 front

As the pictures show, this is not a show-winning example of the breed. As a ‘historic’ vehicle, the Triumph has not seen an MOT ramp for a few years now, but happily there is plenty of evidence of recent work, even if some of it has been well meaning, rather than textbook. 

A nice bit of history is that the car was featured in a TV show a few years back. Flipping Bangers follows a familiar premise to many classic car shows, where a car is bought, improved and sold at a profit.

Gus Gregory and Will Trickett worked on the scruffy Spit to tidy and tune it on a budget. It was in a bit of a state when they acquired it but with an exhaust manifold replacement, tappet adjustment and a leaky pinion seal attended to, it was able to get an MOT and was sold on for a modest profit.

Triumph Spitfire engine

Since then, it has also had the SU carburettors rebuilt and the enormous bonnet assembly has been replaced due to rust and damage. Not all of the recent work has been ideal though.

The ignition system is a good illustration of this point and is the first thing which I will be spending time to understand and improve. I'll reveal exactly what that entails in another update soon.