Buying a Triumph Spitfire
Before You Own a Triumph Spitfire
This page contains some hints and tips for those who are considering buying a Triumph Spitfire.
Buying a classic car is not like buying a modern car. For a start there are going to be fewer cars available. Time takes its toll and older cars like the Triumph Spitfire are much more prone to rust and structural problems than newer cars.
Also with the passage of time there are bound to be repairs required which can be an expensive business for Spitfire owners. Cosmetic repairs can be cheaper than doing a proper job but may only last just long enough to sell a car – so be careful.
Of course these are just suggestions and I can accept no responsibility for any unforeseen consequences that may follow.
Use these links to jump down to the relevant sections
- Join a Triumph Club
- Don’t buy the first car you see
- Read and use a buyer’s guide
- Take a magnet with you when you go to view a car
Join a Triumph Club or other Classic Car Club
If you’re serious about owning a Triumph Spitfire the time to join a Triumph Club is now.
I joined the Triumph Sports Six Club (TSSC) which initially covered Triumphs based on the Herald chassis but now covers other models like Stags, Dolomites, etc. There are other clubs as well as the TSSC though.
It’s worth joining a club for a number of reasons.
A club can help you find a car as members may advertise their cars for sale in the club magazine or on its website. Of course you may not need to join to look at the adverts.
The main reason for joining a club would be to help with affordable car insurance. The TSSC operates a scheme for members with an insurance company called Footman James and they will insure your Spitfire (and other classic cars) for a very reasonable price. It can be difficult or expensive to insure a Spitfire through more mainstream companies.
After I sold my Spitfire and bought a Stag my insurance premiums with Footman James went up slightly but only to about £220. Where else could you insure a 3 litre car with a comprehensive policy and free breakdown cover for that sort of money?
The TSSC also produce a monthly magazine called The Courier which contains technical articles for the various models and reports on races etc. There are also pages about the local branches of the club.
Don’t buy the first car you see
Once you’ve fallen in love with the idea of having a Spitfire it can be really frustrating not to actually own one. Please resist the temptation to buy the first car you find unless you know exactly what you are looking for.
There are many Spitfires for sale out there – all in different states of repair and roadworthiness. When I was looking for one I saw some cars that were in a beautiful condition and some that were in a mess. So take time and see as many cars as you can to get a feel for what’s available and what a reasonable price would be. Some owners actually seem to be quite blind to the obvious faults of their cars.
Read and use a buyer’s guide
Like most cars the Spitfire has its own peculiar strengths and weaknesses – some of which emerge over a period of time.
It is important to have a feel for potential trouble areas whenever you go to look at a car. One of the most important places to look at on a Triumph Spitfire are the sills beneath the doors. The sills are structurally very important and they are expensive to fix properly if repairs are required.
The floorpans have a tendency to rust through too – especially on the driver’s side, and they can be expensive to replace. The bonnet areas around the headlamps are prone to cracking and rust as well.
But there are many other things to look out for so find a buyer’s guide and use it. As a starting place I would recommend Erik Kieboom’s guide.
Take a magnet with you when you go to view a car
Any car you go to see may look good but it may have areas that consist of a lot of filler. So always take a magnet along with you to test how much of the car is metal and how much is filler. This is very important on the door sills and chassis elements.