Spitfire 4 (1962-1964)
Obviously it was never officially called a Mk1 as it was the first car - The biggest identifiers are the bumpers. The front bumper sits underneath the front grille. The sidelights and indicators all above the bumper. The car also has chrome trim strips running across the top seams of the front and rear wings, where they are welded to the bonnet and rear of the car. The hood is a rather complicated affair with removable struts. Rear IRS came under scrutiny for handling on the limit. The rear wheels can tuck under on lifting off, midway through a corner and cause the rear end to swing out. Not such a problem as say, on the GT6 as the car is not intended as being ultra-fast and doesn't possess that much power.
The dashboard centre is finished in black (not wooden veneer as on later models) and the dash surround is painted body-colour. (Note: The wooden steering wheel on the white car left, is non-standard)
Spitfire Mk2 (1964-1967)
Visually almost identical to the Spitfire 4. Mk2 Scrolls on the rear give the game away and there is a better interior. Performance is increased. Retains original styling of the Spitfire 4, but with greater performance and better detailing. Original styling and "rough edges removed" make this a good car. Hood still requires a pit-crew to remove & replace though.
The whole dash surround is covered in black vinyl and the dashboard centre itself is also coloured black
Spitfire Mk3 (1967-1970)
Front bumper is raised across the grille, "bone in the teeth" style. US legislation forced the bumper height to be increased and for once, it actually improved the looks of the car. Indicators & sidelights are now underneath the bumper. Front bumper over-riders now have black rubber 'cushions' on them, rear 3/4 bumpers no longer have over-riders. Engine is now increased to 1300cc's Fastest Spitfire yet, with near-100mph speeds (confirm this at your peril, these cars don't carry airbags and crumple zones are your legs!). Hood is now a simple two-catch operation that drops neatly behind the seats.
Spitfire Mk4 (1970-1974)
Big change to the suspension, which is now swing-spring, alleviating the "tuck under" syndrome of earlier cars. Chopped-off tail. Squared rear end uses tidier tail light clusters and the front bonnet is smoothed and flattened. Bumpers are changed again - front is recessed into bonnet and has no over-riders. Rear bumper is now full-length, instead of 3/4. Chrome strips on the front wings are removed altogether and the ones on the rear are coloured black instead of chrome. Dashboard is reorganised and has more dials, set at the drivers side of the car (instead of in the middle of the car, as on previous models). Model is heavier and slower than all previous Spitfires. US versions slower still due to emission controls.
Probably the least desirable of Spitfires, due to performance, but should make this the cheapest model to buy! However, if performance really does seem sluggish, there is always the option of dropping a 1500cc unit in there and many more performance add-ons would also transform the car.
Note: These are the latest model Spitfires which come under the "Historic" rating for road fund licence in the UK. Up to 1973, all cars have zero duty to pay.
Spitfire 1500 (1974-1980)
Visually identical to the Mk4. Has a black plastic front spoiler (although these are frequently removed) and sports a '1500' logo on the front and rear. As the name suggests, the engine has increased in size to 1500cc's Performance is now back to Mk3 standards and beyond. Prices more expensive than Mk4, probably in line with Mk3's.
Probably the easiest model of all Spitfires to own, due to more modern feel and incredibly widespread availability of spares. Car actually seems 'larger' than the round-tailed earlier models and has a plusher interior with more 'mod-cons'. If you are thinking of using the car as a daily driver, or it will be your only car, then the 1500 is probably the best bet (and to a similar extent the Mk IV).
|Above left is the interior of the early Spitfires,
notice the "universal" central dashboard, which didn't need to be swapped for
LHD. Mk1's had the dash surround painted in body-colour, Mk2's had an all-black dashboard
& surround. This one is a mk3 (note correct seats with white piping).
Above right is the more modern, later interior with optional leather seats (cloth trim was standard on 1500's)
Below left is a close-up of a Mk3 dashboard
Below right is a later dashboard, as found on some US Mk3 Spitfires and all MkIV and 1500's (though the colour of veneer differed)
Triumph Spitfire Vs GT6 - which one is the best buy? Though the slower of the two types, the Spitfire probably has the edge in styling and the fact that it's a convertible more than makes up for its lack of pace. However, if pace is what you are looking for, the GT6 Mk2 and Mk3 are the fastest cars. Check the tables below, for comparative performance figures on acceleration, overtaking and maximum speed.
|Model||Acceleration 0-60 (in seconds)|
|Spitfire Mk4 (UK)||16.2|
|Spitfire Mk4 (USA)||15.9|
|Spitfire 1500 (UK)||13.2|
|Spitfire 1500 (USA)||15.4|
|GT6 Mk3 (UK)||10.1|
|GT6 Mk3 (USA)||12.6|
|Model||Overtaking (50-70MPH in top gear)|
|Spitfire Mk4 (UK)||16.3|
|Spitfire 1500 (UK)||12.1|
|GT6 Mk3 (UK)||9.2|
|Model||Maximum Speed (MPH)|
|Spitfire Mk4 (UK)||90|
|Spitfire Mk4 (USA)||86|
|Spitfire 1500 (UK)||100|
|Spitfire 1500 (USA)||94|
|GT6 Mk3 (UK)||112|
|GT6 Mk3 (USA)||104|