Here’s something you don’t see every day. Most replica classics have several drawbacks – being based on a pedestrian platform, awkward styling to fit modern underpinnings, high cost of entry, and more. It’s nice to find a car that scores well on at least two of those elements, and if you buy into some snobbery about country of origin and longevity of its maker, it has that going for it as well. Spartan Cars were made from 1973 to 1995, and in addition to the Roadster there were a Mini-Moke-like vehicle, and what must have been truly odd-looking estate car and motorhome conversions for the Ford Cortina. The Roadster first used the Triumph Herald/Vitesse/Spitfire as its basis, moving to the Mark III-V Cortinas as the Triumphs became unsuitable donors through age or collectibility. At any rate, there can’t be that many of these in the US, although the Spartan owners’ club does count some Americans among its members. If you want to be one of the few, you can start by looking at this 1971 Spartan Roadster for sale for $4500 somewhere in Clark County, WA, just north of Portland, OR.
The car’s been well-photographed, or at least the awkward proportions are disguised, but you can’t hide that thick windshield frame and boxy front end. It looks to have been stored well, at least inasmuch as it’s in good shape, and aside from a layer of surface dust it’s pretty clean. Side curtains are seen next to the car, and those wing mirrors look like they’re perfectly placed to be obscured by the A-pillars. Said to have been parked since last year, it will start but has weak brakes. The seller (and contemporary reviews) say it’s fun to drive, which is easy to imagine when the vehicle has a Triumph six and probably not much insulation.
Though it’s a kit car, most, if not all, of the bodywork appears to be metal. This particular car is based on a Vitesse (or maybe a GT6?) given the powerplant, which should make things a little more fun. Everything looks clean under the hood, though there are some odd touches of color, like the yellow wiring and oil cap. Since it’s a Triumph powertrain, you’ll want to check for the usual things like thrust washer play.
The interior looks to be in pretty nice shape, and the seller should be given credit for recognizing he’s lost interest and moving the car on to another enthusiast instead of letting it molder away in his barn. Even the wood dash appears to be in good condition. Oddly, while the car is listed as a 1971 model, Spartan only started production in 1973 – perhaps this was meant to circumvent emissions laws at the time of importation? The rear license plate dates to a 1966 car, so that doesn’t help either.
A bit more awkwardness here, and on top of that, when you drop the top you have a brushed metal rollbar. That said, there are a lot of details they got right – smaller lights, large headlights, a well-designed dash, and door handles that all look the part. As an affordable alternative to a six-cylinder Triumph, or a classic replica, would you take this one home?