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View Full Version : Spitfire Spitfire vs. Spider 124



noKYtour
05-01-2012, 09:17 AM
I wanted to get some opinions on the 124 Spider vs. the Triumph Spitfire in terms of why you chose the Spitfire (and yes, I realize where I'm asking). Just to remind you I'm looking at small convertibles because I want something fun, something to tinker on, and something to teach my kids about the generalities of car maintenance. The Fiat was the first convertible I looked at but I didn't get to drive it because the one I found had no brakes. I've since looked at and driven a 77 Spitfire and a 79 MGB. I ended up ruling out the MGB because it just didn't do much for me in the way it looks even though the car was in good shape at a good price.

After driving both of the British cars I'm concerned with the lack of power. I've never had a car with less than a v6 and I can't shake this nagging fear that I'll be disappointed in the power over the long haul. I know the Spider has more power and I'm looking for one now to check out and drive. That being said, one of the initial things that kind of shied me away from the Spider was the thought that I might be going at the experience more on my own with the Fiat. It seems all the LBCs have a good support network and clubs that do lots of local events but I haven't really been able to find that for the Fiat in Cincinnati. Maybe I just haven't been successful in searching though. One of the things I really like about the Spider though is the potential for having the kids in the car with my wife and I because of the rear seat / package shelf.

So, I'd really be interested in hearing some thoughts, especially from people that looked at Spiders too and chose the Spitfire, or people that might own both. I'm trying to get into the hobby with my eyes wide open and want to make sure I make the best possible decision for me and my family over the long haul. Thanks for any thoughts and/or adviceyou might have.

Mickey Richaud
05-01-2012, 09:27 AM
Not to throw a wrench into the works, but a properly sorted early MGB will be a different animal than the one you drove. A bit better handling, and you'll get a bit more grunt as well. Still not a record-breaker, but notable.

The 124 is more of a cruiser than the Spitfire, and I believe others have already addressed the different driver's position.

Now, if you want to play, get a B with an implanted V6! <<GRAEMLIN_URL>>/grin.gif

Oh, and I know of a 124 here in Clarksville that has been available for a while. Haven't seen it, but I know the folks and am pretty sure it's a good one. Let me know if you're interested and I'll check for you.

JodyFKerr
05-01-2012, 09:34 AM
I haven't driven the Fiat 128, but I have driven many similar cars. I also have a number of cars that have 3 times the horsepower of a Spitfire. Despite all of that the fastest way to get a big cheesy grin on my face is to hand me a Spitfire and let me go. :smile:

The only time that the Spit bothers me is on the highway. Unless you have overdrive or a costly 5 speed conversion 70+ mph is rather buzzy. Yes, you'll never be pinned to the seat by forceful horsepower, but it's definitely enough for the car.

If you think top speed may be an issue, then I would recommend looking for a car with an overdrive (or adding one later). If it's really HP you want, all the engines can stand uprating, but the 1275 is the most buildable. We have a 1500, and since it's registered as an antique we ripped out all the emissions stuff, that was an immediate power boost. The next time noone's looking I plan to add a decent exhaust header and dual carbs. That should be another nice boost.

When we spend too much time with modern cars we tend to get unnecessarily obsessed with the amount of horsepower a vehicle has. When it comes to the driving experience that's only one variable in a long equation.

Jody

noKYtour
05-01-2012, 09:34 AM
Thanks for the thoughts. Any info on the TN 124?

Mickey Richaud
05-01-2012, 09:36 AM
I'll see what I can find out for you.

sd80mac7204
05-01-2012, 09:48 AM
As far as a Spit is concerned I can tell you that one with the emissions properly removed and a few small tweaks here and there can be a very enjoyable car. While not having the hustle muscle that a lot of modern sedans have on the interstate highways it has plenty of power when in it's own element: narrow twisting country roads. For example: My fiance had no problem smoking me when she had my Impala SS when we pulled out onto the main road(that thing has some serious "push you back in the seat" power). A few miles on when we got on the back roads I was right on her tail around every curve. I really like the way my Spit runs and has always made it home no matter what has broken along the way.
My thoughts are... Stay British!

drooartz
05-01-2012, 09:51 AM
I'll add in that the 1970s were not good for any LBC really (other than the TR7/8). Certainly with the Spitfire, MGB, and Sprite/Midgets the earlier cars tend to be quicker and more nimble. This is especially true for the MGB. The last cars were almost 30 HP down on the early ones, and they didn't have all that much to begin with (98HP in the best year I think). Might be worth driving a chrome bumper MGB (1974 and earlier) to compare. For example my 70 MGB (UK spec, so no emissions equipment) only feels down on power when I'm trying to chase a TR6 up a mountain pass.

That said, a Spitfire (with OD) is a nice little car. Roomy, great lines, and good parts and club support. Were it me I'd try and find an early 70s car with the smaller bumpers and an overdrive. Again, not the fastest thing around but plenty fun, cheap, and rugged. I don't fit the Italian driving position very well, so I've stayed with the Brits.

poolboy
05-01-2012, 10:19 AM
The beauty of most of these underpowered by current standards sports cars is their nimble handling which is best appreciated out in the country, not on some crowded highway or in conjested city traffic.
Think about where they were made and the environment of their homeland during that period of time and the decade prior. No way that compares to the United States in the 21st century..
They are what they are and once you get your head around that and accept an LBC for what it is the happier you'll be in the long run.
If you can't do that..there are other "convertibles" you could consider.

Mickey Richaud
05-01-2012, 10:22 AM
:iagree:

sd80mac7204
05-01-2012, 10:34 AM
:iagree:x2

tdskip
05-01-2012, 10:57 AM
OK - to round out the conversation and possible annoy the folks here - Fiat 124 in a heartbeat for similar money. Faster, roomier, works as a modern car, better convertible top, and over all a much mechanically advanced car for similar money. Parts availability isn't quite as good, but is still strong.

The Fiat has double overhead cam, aluminum crossflow head version (with later models being fuel injected), four-wheel disc-brakes, 5 speed transmission.

That said they are totally difference cars to drive, Spitfire is more vintage, Fiat is frankly more usable and in a different class of engineering. Find one that hasn't been mess-about and it will be quite reliable.

djwoody
05-01-2012, 11:15 AM
If you want more power why don't you consider a TR6? They are not really that much larger than a Spitfire and there are lots of them still around so finding a decent one shouldn't be too difficult?

PC
05-01-2012, 12:30 PM
If we're going to diverge from the original Spit/Spyd question, may I suggest throwing a Jensen Henley into the mix? :whistle:

FordFiesta
05-01-2012, 01:03 PM
Or a Datsun 1600 or 2000

Mickey Richaud
05-01-2012, 02:15 PM
The 124 is sold.

noKYtour
05-01-2012, 07:51 PM
The 124 is sold.

Thanks for checking for me Mickey.

I wanted to say thank you to everyone for your thoughts and comments. I've read all of them and taken them into consideration. I think the best bet for me is to get out and drive them, which I've heard here and from other posts that I've asked about. I just want to make sure I know what I'm getting into before I get there! Thanks again.

71MKIV
05-01-2012, 08:01 PM
If you are just looking for something to play with, get a Miata.

If you are looking for something to learn to drive in, tinker with, learn some fundamentals, get a Spitfire.

Honest cars, fix them with a rock and an adjustable.

Got my spit cuz all the people I was hanging with at the time had British stuff.

Dale
05-01-2012, 08:43 PM
If we're going to diverge from the original Spit/Spyd question, may I suggest throwing a Jensen Henley into the mix?
For sure the J-H gets my vote over the TR7 and of course any LBC over a LIC.

eschneider
05-02-2012, 03:24 PM
OK - to round out the conversation and possible annoy the folks here - Fiat 124 in a heartbeat for similar money. Faster, roomier, works as a modern car, better convertible top, and over all a much mechanically advanced car for similar money. Parts availability isn't quite as good, but is still strong.

The Fiat has double overhead cam, aluminum crossflow head version (with later models being fuel injected), four-wheel disc-brakes, 5 speed transmission.

That said they are totally difference cars to drive, Spitfire is more vintage, Fiat is frankly more usable and in a different class of engineering. Find one that hasn't been mess-about and it will be quite reliable.

Having owned both, the Spitfire is much more go-kart-like and rudimentary, both mechanically and in the way it drives. They are a total blast to drive and work on. The Fiat was ahead of its time mechanically for the reasons stated above, but suffered with emissions and bumper standards. If you can find a clean pre-74 chrome bumper 1608cc Spider, that's the one to have. Fiats do have internet support groups (mirafiori.com, FLU....) and plenty of parts suppliers out there. Fiats are easy and fun to work on as well (but they don't have a clamshell bonnet). The ride is more refined - especially on the highway, and they do autocross very well, but the steering and turn-in isn't razor-sharp like the spitfire.