Used car buying guide: Triumph Spitfire

Spitfire: the name conjures up images of swooping around the lanes, silk scarf flying. Until, that is, the little car’s engine goes pop and you’re left at the roadside wondering where all that steam’s coming from.

Best we get in that reality check early on. The thing is, a Triumph Spitfire is such a pretty little thing and so darned cheap (you can get a tidy runner from £3500 and probably less) that the temptation to throw down this magazine and buy one right here, right now might be overwhelming. Resist it. Instead, look around and, above all, take a knowledgeable and sceptical mate with you when you’re allowed to go out shopping again.

Based on a shortened version of the Triumph Herald, the little two-seat convertible was launched in 1962 with a 1147cc engine. A more powerful, Mk2 version followed in 1965, itself replaced by the livelier Mk3 with a 1296cc engine in 1967. These 1960s cars are the prettiest and most coveted but rare. Looking around, we found only one: a 1968-reg with 69,000 miles for £10,000.

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Triumph Spitfire 1300 Mk4, 1972, 93,000 miles, £5975: Restored by the previous owner (which may be a good or a bad thing depending on their experience and depth of wallet), this Spitfire looks clean and bright. The 1300cc engine is rumoured to be stronger than the more plentiful 1500cc.