4th Place – 1971 Triumph Spitfire Mark IV

With just over 300,000 produced, the Spitfire beats out cars you’d think were more successful, like the BMW Z3, Honda S2000, and Mercedes R107 SL. Of course, it fell well short of the Z3 in terms of annual sales, but it did beat the other two. With a fully independent suspension, a single piece front end for better engine access, normal wind-up windows, and more powerful engines, the Spitfire seemed to outdo its main competitors, the Midget and Fiat 850 spider, fairly well. And while it’s subjective, you could argue the Spitfire has more attractive, flowing styling against the Midget’s and 850’s cheap and cheerful look. Check out this 1971 Triumph Spitfire, for sale in Fair Oaks, CA for $1800.

1971 Triumph Spitfire right front

So the color is a question of personal taste – it’s not as universally loved as red or green, but this ochre (or baby poop) color is right for the period, also used by Alfa Romeo and other marques. A contrasting black interior might balance things a little. Michelotti’s styling, and this restyled version, have held up really well, and Italian styling over user-friendly mechanicals is never a bad thing, whether they’re British or American. The little mudflaps give it a somewhat aggressive look, and you could hit those gravel roads without fear.

1971 Triumph Spitfire right rear

Check out the sweet club-and-golf-ball license plate frame – probably one of the first things to chuck in the bin, or maybe to install on the wife’s car to see how long until she notices. It’s nice the car has blue plates to show a long California history, and while this car is said to have no rust and good paint, it needs the carburetor and radiator reinstalled (once you’ve asked why they were removed in the first place, and ascertained whether the pistons are free). As with our Midget, parts are readily available, not terribly expensive, and performance modifications are well-documented. All of this is a nice relief if you’re accustomed to working on a car that is, say, number 12 on the list, or not even on it.

1971 Triumph Spitfire left front

The bumpers look nice and straight, and all trim seems to be present. There are a few cracks in the dash, but there’s hope that a simple clean-up will yield you decent results. The most important improvement on the Mark IV Spitfire was the change to the suspension, whose geometry was redesigned to reduce the tendency to oversteer and/or flip. Bring a large socket to spin the crank and your AAA card, ask the owner some questions, negotiate and have it towed home – just three easy steps to Spitfire ownership!


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