Triumph Spitfire 1500 Project

1978 Triumph Spitfire 1500

Photo taken at seller’s garage as we aired up the tires and boosted the battery

There is nothing quite like open top motoring. Even better classic low to the ground roadster. I’ve owned a Triumph Spitfire but that was almost a decade ago. It was a slightly tatty but very drivable 1974. That car remains one of my favorites (if not overall favorite) cars of all time. I’ve had a hankering for another one almost since the moment I sold it. I’ve finally been able to acquire another Spitfire but this time in project car form.

My old 1974 Triumph Spitfire 1500

As mentioned this Spitfire isn’t in near as good condition as my previous one but it is very hard to find a cheap Spitfire these days. Critically the body is very solid with excellent floors and trunk area. Originally a brown car the previous, previous owner primed it but didn’t progress any further. For colour I was thinking perhaps a shade of yellow. The windshield is also free of any cracks or chips.


Interior is a little rough and is in need of some repair and cosmetic help. The brass furniture knob on the window winder is an example. Seats while still comfortable are quite tatty looking. It runs and drives for the most part but will need some tuning at minimum. It idles quite high and I believe the auto choke may be to blame. There are some electrical needs to be met and some plenty of sorting.


While fundamentally the same as my old 1974 model there are a few differences between them.

  • The steering wheel is smaller in diameter
  • The Zenith Stromberg carburetor has the much hated water choke. The air cleaner is slightly different as well.
  • The 1978 has a dash plaque celebrating Triumph’s SCCA Championships in 1965, and 1968-1973.
  • Speedometer is is km/h. I think my old ’74 was mph
  • The bumper over riders are a bit smaller
  • Valve cover painted red
  • More modern looking handbrake and steering column
  • Some of the exterior chrome is painted. Windshield wipers no longer chrome
  • Horn button on the stalk instead of wheel mounted
  • Electric seat belt reminder (not hooked up though)
  • Houndstooth style seats and beige coloured interior. The 1974 was all black.
  • Different engine fan

My old ’74 also had an aftermarket Pacesetter header and Monza exhaust both of which conspired to make it rather noisy. It did however have a nice oil pressure combination gauge sourced from a MG Midget which I may replicate on the 1978.

Exacton WheelsThe Spitfire is fitted with a set of rather attractive and probably rare Exacton Type SA aftermarket alloy wheels with new looking 13″ tires.

1978 Triumph Spitfire 1500 - 1.5L engine - top view

Initial plans are to assess exactly what I have then catalog a list of missing or broken parts. Next move on to fixing any non-functional items and fully sort the electrical system. There are a few non-functional electrical items but on first glance they appear to be the result of a previous owner messing about. After that a mechanical assessment and sorting will take place with painting happening after that. Probably the interior overhaul will happen after the new paint colour is finalized.

1978 Triumph Spitfire 1500

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3 Responses to Triumph Spitfire 1500 Project

  1. Glen says:

    Congratulations on your newest acquisition. Good late winter/early spring project.
    Are you hoping to have it on the road for this driving season?
    …and since you’ve owned one of these gems in a previous life, you are then well acquainted with the Lucas electrical…’Prince of Darkness’ system…lol :).
    Perhaps a Mazda Miata would have filled this gap a little more ably ? Or are you totally smitten with all things British?

  2. Glen says:

    Please don’t take that last paragraph as criticism on your purchase, rather my own thinking out loud what I would do, in regards to the Miata.
    Here’s to many miles of smiles in the Spitfire.

  3. oldcarjunkie says:

    No worries.

    A Miata would be wonderful but would cost me more money and I would like to restore something properly. The Spitfire is also a good deal smaller than a Miata. This Spitfire allows me that opportunity. Cheap buy, cheap parts, good availability and easy to work on. I do like vintage British products too.

    Almost all the electrical problems I’ve come across on British cars have been the result of bad grounds or previous owner changes. They wiring is very simple and nicely colour coded. Its better than its reputation.

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