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Buying a Spitfire or GT6

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First you must learn to read between the lines of some of those advertisements



One owner


Ideal for enthusiast

Total restoration needed

Slight attention needed

Needs major overhaul

Good mechanics

Bad body

Good body

Bad Mechanics

Marriage forces sale

It can be done in a Triumph, they did, and must get married

Stored two years

Most parts seized, grass in chassis

No dealers

No body who knows anything about cars, please

Collector's item

Price is over-inflated

Good t tires

That's all that is good about it

Excellent condition

Buyer beware

Genuine reason for sale

I've got to dump it

Company car forces sale

I've got a better job and getting a decent car

Baby forces sale

Can't pour any more money into this thing

House forces sale

Neighbors complaining

In need of total restoration

In pieces

Lack of time forces sale

Spent more time than it's worth

Dismantled for restoration

I can't put it back together

Slight accident damage

Total write off

OBO (or best offer)

I don't expect the asking price


I haven't the nerve to put a price on the car

Used daily

High mileage and jillion things wrong with it

Genuine mileage

Disconnected speedo-cable

Drives good

Looks terrible

Strong runner

same as above

Owned by careful lady

The others were maniacs

Will bargain

I'll get mad, you won't buy the car and I'll hit you

Will consider trade

Anything to get out from under this dog

Thank you Sandy Sanders Cambridge, England

But Seriously...

I must first say you will be buying a hobby not a car. These cars are old and being built on even older technologies and designs, they are not as reliable as a modern car. These cars require maintenance that modern cars have engineered out. That been said, it will break down so be prepared.

When buying one of these cars, keep in mind that most everything is easily fixed EXCEPT body work. Rust can often make an otherwise decent car an expensive pile of **** or even a deathtrap. When looking at the car be sure that major rust hasn't been quickly covered up and painted over. It is a good idea to take a refrigerator magnet and run it around areas of the body like behind the wheels, under the doors and the nose. If the magnet doesn't stick there is probably "Bondo" filling. This is not always bad but at least you are aware of previous repairs and discuss them with the owner. Got to our checklist page and print out the list to take with you. It will help you be more objective about the car and not just see it as a cool new toy.

When you get the car it is a good idea to give the car a complete going over. Replace all fluids (oil, brake fluid, diff., coolant). Oil/grease the hinges, u-joints, trunnions, etc. Give it a full tune up (new plugs, ignition wires, dist. cap, points, check timing, etc.). Change all hoses, belts and pads. Having everything that wears out replaced will ensure your car getting off on the right foot. This will cost around $150 for you to do or a couple of hundred for someone else to do it. You might consider rebuilding the carb also. It can make a huge difference!

If the car has been sitting for a while, the brakes and clutch will more than likely have problems. Repairs are relatively straight forward but MUST be fixed. Safety is paramount.

Also, see our "New Owner's" Page.


What is it worth? Good question. A lot is dependent on the condition of the car, how much is original, the age of the car, famous previous owner, etc. Occasionally you will find a person that wants to get rid of someone else's car (ex-husband, death in the family, etc.). These cars are usually a steal as the seller has no idea of the value and rarely cares. These cars are rare and are the exception. The more normal sale will not be as cheap as these. The value of these cars is a tricky thing. As a general rule, the older & more original, the more valuable. (If you change anything with a non-original item ie. replacing a Zenith Carb with a Weber, keep the item. You can always put it back on later.) My guess based on prices I have seen for Spitfires is: Crap/Parts cars- $0-$800, Fun driver needing things- $1000-$3000, A restored or great original- $3000-5000, perfect cars- $5000 and up. Remember, it is almost always cheaper to buy a pretty good car with minor things wrong than to buy a piece of **** and fix it up. This been said, buy the best you can afford, and know what needs attending to up front.

Finding a pretty complete "parts car" will pay for itself many times over in not only cheap parts but as a reference guide. If you pull a part off your car and forget how it goes back on, go to the parts car and find out.

Where to Buy

Of course I recommend the "Spitfires Only" classifieds as well as local newspaper classifieds. Hemmings Motor News makes a wonderful book of everything auto related for sale, trade, wanted, etc. But be warned. You will spend many hours drooling and "shopping". Anyone remember the Sears Wish Book that came out just before Christmas?

Buyer Guides (outside links)

The European Triumph Spitfire MkIV and 1500 buyers guide