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Thinking of getting a Triumph

gixxerjim

Freshman Member
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I am recently bitten by the old spart car bug and thinking of pulling the trigger on a nice classic. The choices in front of me are of equal cost and excellent condition: 1980 Spitfire or a 1973 GT6 MKIII. Which would be the more reliable, easy to maintain, cheap to insure/operate vehicle, assuming equally good condition up front, and why?
 

luke44

Jedi Warrior
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Well let me be the first to start with some food for thought - I'm sure some others will chime in. They are completely different experiences. The GT6 is a closed coupe, the Spit an open convertible. That's a world of difference.

The spit is slower than the GT6 - 4 cyl vs 6 cyl, and you may find this, well....challenging (all due respect to current Spit owners - i love the car btw). The GT6 can get a bit warm in the summer.

Operating costs and parts cost are pretty much a wash - both have good availability at reasonable prices.

Both are snap to work on with fully opening front noses.

Insurance will also be a wash - declared value with a specialist vintage car insurer - I use Hagerty but there are a number of other good ones out there.

I think decision #1 is coupe or cv. In either case, the hobby is great and either way you'll enjoy it. Good luck.
 
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gixxerjim

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Thanks luke44. Coming in clueless as I am, I was wondering if there were some known defects or major drawbacks to either car, or if one is more collectible than another, etc. From what you are telling me these are no concern, thanks...now if the sellers would just return my calls!
 

tdskip

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Drive both - you'll know which one you like immediatley. The later model Spits were somewhat stangled with emissions controls (sorry guys), so between that and the GT6 engine the GT6 will have more grunt. Then again not having a roof tends to result in a great sensation of speed. :smile:
 

WedgeWorks

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Guys lets give him the best advice.....no matter which direction the body condition would be number one on my list! No rust! Mechanicals and electrics are much easier for a backyard mechanic! Welding, cutting and painting can cost more than any aspect of the car. I love the spitfire but the GT6 and the 6 cylinder howl and fastback roof line has me! Unless you find a spit6 (Spitfire with a GT6 engine) then you would get the best of both worlds!
 

JodyFKerr

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I'd say that most of it is really what you prefer to drive. :smile: As mentioned above the differences between a convertible and a coupe in terms of driving experience are pretty significant. As to collectability and the like, what's more important is whether you like the car, not what it might be worth down the road. :smile:

I mechanically refreshed a Spitfire for my mum last year. She loves it. She likes to drive it to the market for milk, to church and the occastional "long" drive (15 miles) to visit grandkids. Now, were it my car, I'd have to have an overdrive added because I like to go faster on the highway, and the little 4-speed just isn't designed for fast highways speeds. And were it for my wife, it'd be the GT6, simply because she prefers coupes. So, it's all about preference.

Drive both and see what you prefer. They are both easy to work on. The parts are easy to obtain. The only issue we ran into on Mum's Spitfire is that it's a '78, and in Arizona that means we had to get it through emissions. I don't know what the rules are where you live. It wasn't terrible, just a lot of fiddling before that car got through.

When you go to look at the cars, look *very carefully* for rust. Get underneath them (or as close to it as possible, they're low cars), look in the trunk, etc. It's a lot easier and cheaper to fix mechanical problems than rust problems.

Good luck!
 

Andrew Mace

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Semi-random thoughts:

First, join a Triumph club if there's one anywhere near you, such as Vintage Triumphs of Wisconsin (web site seems a bit out-of-date, but....) and talk to Spitfire and GT6 owners; maybe even see if they'll let you drive a car. See if either car is really what you want; especially, make sure you're comfortable after 5-10 minutes!

I'd be hesitant to just jump on either of the first two cars you see, unless one is the perfect condition, deal, color, reminds you of your childhood, softly and seductively beckons you, etc.! Even then, that usually is not quite enough to cause you to rush into anything.

As noted, the last of the Spitfires is somewhat strangled by emissions equipment and added weight due to mandated safety equipment. But they're still loads of fun for what they are: a relatively inexpensive and basic convertible sports car. Acceleration and top speed aren't everything, of course! As nice as the late (1973) GT6 is, it also is somewhat strangled compared to earlier ones, especially 1971 and before. (I know: I had first a 1970 and then a 1972 back-to-back. Both were totally stock, and I loved both, but there was no ignoring the difference between the 79hp '72 and the 95hp '70!)

And yes, there's the "Spitfire 6" or "GT6 convertible" or however you wish to look at it. But this is not something for someone new to Triumphs. There are more than a few of these about; all are "homemade" cars, as it's not something the factory ever conceived, built or sold. They can be great, but more than a few have been slapped together out of junk parts. Ideally, such a car should have ALL the running gear of the GT6, including suspension and brakes, but many don't. You need someone who really knows both cars to help you determine if such a car is built properly.

Bottom line: take your time. Don't rush into anything, lest you find yourself on the debit end of a major mistake. :frown:
 
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gixxerjim

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10-4 I will be bringing my own jack! I will not buy a rusty car, been down that road with muscle cars.

This car is a surprise for my wife (yes I secretly want the car). So I need to surrepticously determine which she would prefer....

Any known problem areas on these cars that I should look for in particular?
 

DrEntropy

Great Pumpkin
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Rust.

The only other thing is rear hubs/bearings condition.
 

Andrew Mace

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Realistically, rust is pretty much THE problem area. That's because while both cars have a separate "backbone" chassis, the body itself is essentially a "semi-monocoque" construction, with the sills providing a great deal of the overall strength of the car. It can be as simple as opening the driver's side door: if the door sags a bit, it could simply be a worn hinge; if the entire "A-post" sags with the door, you'll likely want to close it as best you can, slowly step away from the car...and then RUN! :laugh: There are also trailing arms on the rear suspension that bolt to reinforced bits of the body tub. If that area is rotted, see above advice about stepping away....

There are any number of minor-to-significant "problem areas" that could be listed (but I need to get back to work). Read through some of the posts on this Forum, again talk to owners, etc., etc., etc. And by all means, don't be afraid to ask any specific question as it comes up (like "why does the pulley on the front of the engine move forward half an inch when I press the clutch pedal?). Frankly, most all problem areas are those that developed due to lack of maintenance and attention to a given car, not so much inherent design faults!
 
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gixxerjim

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Thanks, this will be our first euro car, let alone British car, so I am a little paranoid beyond the usual inspection routine I would go through on an American or Japanese car, just due to lack of familiarity.
 

chappy444

Senior Member
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gixxerjim said:
Thanks, this will be our first euro car, let alone British car, so I am a little paranoid beyond the usual inspection routine I would go through on an American or Japanese car, just due to lack of familiarity.

oh...you will need to learn a new "language" as well...lol
there are some good "translation" pages on the web tho.

as others have said.
Rust, rust rust... reach down in the footwell and pull the carpet back and inspect the floorboards.

i am like you...a newbie to british cars

i recently bought a 75 spit and this was my resoning for choosing the spit:

i wanted a rolling project, i would have prefered a 32 ford coupe but have you priced early ford sheetmetal lately?
so...affordability

i wanted a convertible... i figure if your gonna have a classic british car it should be a convertible.

normally i am a speed freak. but the pourpose of this care was, for me, classic motoring with the top down.

also, while looking for a car i noticed way more spits available. research had shown me that i could always make it go faster.

for me initial cost was important. i can always spend as much or as little as i want after i own it. i wanted a running, driving car at an affordable price. for me the spit fit the bill.
 

dklawson

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I own a '67 GT6 and a '72 Spitfire. As many have already said, though the cars have their similarities, the convertible and hatchback designs create very different "feels" for the driver.

Your last post implied that you are more familiar with more modern American and Japanese cars. You also asked about reliability issues. While I like our British cars, I would not ever consider them to be 'reliable' in terms of what you will be used to with modern cars and Japanese cars in particular. If you don't like doing your own repairs, you probably are not going to like owning an LBC. New and used parts are readily available but the number of professional garages working on older British cars is dwindling.

If emissions inspections are required in your area, find out if there is a "cut-off" year. I specifically chose our '72 because it was old enough to not require inspection.
 

TR3driver

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gixxerjim said:
So I need to surrepticously determine which she would prefer....
You might want to take into account how she feels about her hair. If it is long, or she favors any kind of permanent set, then the coupe may be more appropriate. Of course she could always put the Spitfire top up, but convertible tops always involve some compromises (tend to leak, require frequent replacement, back window turns yellow, etc).

OTOH, the GT-6 owners I know tend to complain about heat in the passenger compartment, when the weather is warm.
 

tomgt6

Jedi Warrior
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As for heat, the last tunnel I put into the GT6 we insulated it with some heat stuff I got at homedepot and it dropped the temp alot. I don't feel it much anymore.
 

AltaKnight

Jedi Knight
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TR3driver said:
You might want to take into account how she feels about her hair. If it is long, or she favors any kind of permanent set, then the coupe may be more appropriate.
I second that!
From your initial post it sure sounds like you're looking for a daily driver, if it's your only/primary vehicle I'm not sure you want to go with the convertible in Wisconsin!
 

tomshobby

Yoda
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I first met my wife in 1968 when I was driving my 1967 GT6. She had never seen a British car and her first impression was not good. But she soon after came to think it was a great car and often drove it on her own. 5 years ago we bought our TR6 and she was not sure about it either, now she wants to go for a ride or trip whenever possible and the top needs to be down.
 

Andrew Mace

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TR3driver said:
You might want to take into account how she feels about her hair....
I was one of those long-haired hippie types when I began driving in 1969, usually either in Dad's Herald convertible or my Herald convertible. Didn't take long to learn to either: wear a hat or headband; and/or b: carry a comb and/or brush.

Forty-one years later, I'm grateful that I still have hair to be windblown. :driving:
 
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DougF

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Keep your eyes open for a TR7. A decent car should be available within the same price range. You have a bigger car, better performance than the spitfire and easier to get in and out. Avoid the earlier cars.
There are others who can fill you in much better on these cars than me.
 
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