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1979 Triumph Spitfire 1500

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The Triumph Spitfire was in production for nearly two decades, beginning in 1962 and continuing through 1980. Introduced at the London Motor Show, it wore styling by Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti, was manufactured at the Standard-Triumph Canley works, and approximately 315,000 examples were built.

The front-engined, rear-wheel drive, two-passenger convertible sports car rested on a shortened variant of the Triumph Herald saloon's chassis, with a wheelbase that measured 83-inches, a length of 145-inches, a height of 48 inches, and a width of 57-inches. The body-on-frame construction was augmented by structural components within the bodywork and used the running gear and Standard SC engine from the Triumph Herald. The inline four-cylinder engine initially displaced 1147cc's, later growing to 1,296cc before reaching 1,493cc in the Spitfire 1500. It had a pushrod overhead valve cylinder head, two valves per cylinder, and twin SU carburetors. The rack-and-pinion steering was courtesy of the Herald, and the coil-and-wishbone front suspension setup was derived from the former Alford & Alder company that Standard-Triumph had acquired in the late 1950s. In the back was a single transverse-leaf swing axle. The four-speed manual gearbox was joined by an optional overdrive for 1964, and wire wheels and a hardtop were also available.

The Mark II version of the Spitfire arrived in 1965 with revisions to the engine that included a revised camshaft profile, tubular exhaust manifold, and a water-heater intake manifold, boosting horsepower from 63 horsepower to 67 bhp. The cars destined for the North American market continue to use the coil-spring design clutch of the Mark I, while other markets received a Borg & Beck diaphragm spring clutch. Styling changes were minimal, including a new grille and badges, and the interior received carpeting, replacing the original moulded rubber floor mats, and revised seats.

Styling remained consistent through March of 1967 when the Mark III brought a new front bumper in compliance with new crash regulations, and the rear overriders were removed and bumper-mounted reversing lights became standard. The interior gained a 15-inch, wire-spoked steering wheel, and a wood-veneer instrument surround. Under the new folding hood was a larger 1,296cc engine equipped with a new quieter exhaust system, and with twin SU carburetors, it delivered 75 horsepower and 75 lb-ft of torque. Wire wheels, a factory hardtop, and a Laycock de Normanville overdrive were a part of the options list.

The Triumph Spitfire Mark IV entered production in 1970 and was built alongside the Mark III which remained in production through 1971. The 1,296cc engine produced 63, and in 1973 it received larger big-end bearings and was detuned to comply with new emissions regulations. The interior had a full-width dashboard with the instrumentation placed in front of the driver. Exterior revisions included recessed door handles, the convertible had squared-off corners and a revised bonnet.

Triumph Spitfire 1500
The final Spitfire was the 'Spitfire 1500,' introduced in 1974 and produced through 1980. It was the most popular of the Spitfires, with 95,829 examples built. 70,021 were Mark IV's, 65,320 were Mark IIIs, 37,409 were Mark II's, and 45,753 were Mark Is.

The engine in the American market Triumphs had a single Zenith-Stromberg carburetor and a compression ratio reduced to 7.5:1 (other market cars had an 8.0:1 compression ratio) allowing it to operate on lower octane unleaded fuel. Along with a catalytic converter and exhaust gas recirculating system, engine output was now rated at 53 bhp.

The Triumph 1500 suspension system used lower swing axles and a lowered spring mounting point, allowing for a wider and lower stance.

U.S. specification models through 1978 had chrome bumpers, switching to black rubber bumpers with built-in over-drives for the 1979 and 1980 models. A wood dash, hazard flashers, and an electric screen washer were new features installed on the Triumph Spitfire in its final years of production.


By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2021

Related Reading : Triumph Spitfire History

In 1962, the British company Triumph introduced a two-seater sports car named the Spitfire. The Austin-Healey Sprite had proven there was a demand for small cars with sporty intentions. Triumph wanted a piece of this market and felt they could produce a better automobile than the Sprite. In September of 1960 construction of a prototype began and was codenamed Bomb. Triumph used the mechanical....
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Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1979 Spitfire 1500
$3,755-$109,806
1979 Triumph Spitfire 1500 Base Price : $3,755

Other 1979 Triumph Models
$11,150 - $11,900

1500

Year
Production
Wheelbase
Engine
Prices
82.99 in.
4 cyl., 91.11 CID., 57.00hp
$3,000 - $3,000
83.00 in.
4 cyl., 91.11 CID., 53.00hp
$3,750 - $3,750
83.00 in.
4 cyl., 91.00 CID., 57.00hp
$3,750 - $3,750
83.00 in.
4 cyl., 91.00 CID., 52.00hp
$3,750 - $3,750
83.00 in.
4 cyl., 91.00 CID., 53.00hp
$3,750 - $3,750
83.00 in.
4 cyl., 91.00 CID., 57.00hp
$3,755 - $3,755
83.00 in.
4 cyl., 91.10 CID., 53.00hp
$7,370 - $7,370

Industry Production

#1#2#3Triumph
1984Chevrolet (1,655,151)Renault (1,429,138)Ford (1,180,708)
1983Renault (1,491,853)Chevrolet (1,175,200)Toyota (1,068,321)
1982Renault (1,491,853)Chevrolet (1,297,357)Toyota (1,068,321)
1981Chevrolet (1,673,093)Renault (1,295,713)Toyota (1,068,321)9,768
1980Chevrolet (2,288,745)Renault (1,492,339)Ford (1,162,275)14,939
1979Chevrolet (2,284,749)Ford (1,835,937)Renault (1,405,330)12,733
1978Chevrolet (2,375,436)Ford (1,923,655)Renault (1,240,941)16,447
1977Chevrolet (2,543,153)Toyota (1,884,260)Ford (1,840,427)29,258
1976Chevrolet (2,103,862)Toyota (1,884,260)Ford (1,861,537)28,238
1975Chevrolet (1,755,773)Toyota (1,714,836)Ford (1,569,608)22,803
1974Chevrolet (2,333,839)Ford (2,179,791)Renault (1,355,799)18,396

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