By on July 11, 2014

09 - 1979 Triumph Spitfire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe low-value British or Italian sports car that sits in rough condition in a yard or driveway for decades, then takes that sad final journey to the local U-Wrench-It— it’s been a staple of the American self-service wrecking yard landscape for what seems like forever. The MGB and Fiat 124 Sport Spider are by far the most common examples of this breed, followed by the TR7, Alfa Romeo Spider, and the Triumph Spitfire. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’65, this ’67, and this ’75, and now we’re getting right to the end of the Spitfire’s 19-year production run with today’s ’79. (Read More…)

By on February 10, 2014

05 - 1967 Triumph Spitfire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSome old cars have managed to maintain a steady trickle of fresh examples into self-serve wrecking yards since I began crawling around in such yards, back in 1981 or so. The kings of this phenomenon are, of course, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider (in a few years of this series we’ve seen this ’71, this ’73, this ’75, this ’78, and this ’80), and the MGB (so far, this ’67, this ’71, this ’75, this ’79, and this ’79 with Toyota 20R power). The MGB’s British Leyland cousin, the Triumph Spitfire, has been a rarer but just-as-steady find for me; first this ’65 and then this ’75, and the prehistory of this series gives us this Spitfire-sibling ’67 GT6 as well. What these cars have in common is near-scrap value when in rough shape, respectable price tags when in nice condition, and a tendency to be hoarded by guys who plan— someday— to turn the former condition into the latter condition. Eventually, reality sets in and a car that sat in a driveway from the time of the Chowchilla Kidnapping until a few months ago takes its final trip. Here’s a rust-free, fairly complete, restorable early-ish Spitfire that I saw last month in a Northern California yard. (Read More…)

By on November 19, 2013

12 - 1965 Triumph Spitfire Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy far the most numerous British sports car in junkyards these days— and, in fact, for the last few decades— is the MGB. We’ve seen many of these cars in this series, but today’s find is just the second Junkyard Find Spitfire, after this ’75. The Spitfire had a long production run, 19 years total, but Spitfires just weren’t anywhere near as sturdy as their MGB cousins and most of the non-perfect examples got crushed long ago. Still, every so often a forgotten project gets evicted from a garage or back yard, and that’s probably what this happened to this battered ’65 that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard last month. (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2013

06 - 1979 MGB Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinAs a former MGB commuter, I always feel a certain sadness when I see one of British Leyland’s underpowered little sports cars about to get eaten by The Crusher. The B was a surprisingly sturdy car of very simple construction, but sales were undermined by terrible build quality, a primitive pushrod engine, and electrical components made by the Prince of Darkness. These cars show up frequently in self-service wrecking yards, as abandoned project MGBs are expelled from driveways and back yards; we’ve seen this ’71, this ’75, and this Toyota-engined ’79 in this series, and today we’ll look at a very used-up ’79 that I spotted in a California yard. (Read More…)

By on November 16, 2012

As someone who spent a few years using an MGB-GT as a daily driver, my junkyard radar is pretty well attuned to detect Crusher-bound examples of the iconic British sports car. Incredible quantities of Bs were built over a run that lasted close to 20 years, and of course you’ll want to read Ate Up With Motor‘s excellent history of the breed after you’re done here. The biggest problem with this sturdy little car (other than the Prince of Darkness) was the lack of power from its antiquated pushrod engine, so a previous owner of this car solved that problem by adding a Taliban-grade Toyota truck engine. (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2012

In all my years of crawling around in high-turnover self-service wrecking yards, not to mention old-timey slow-turnover wrecking yards, this is the first Lotus I’ve found. And it’s not just some boring Eclat— it’s a genuine mid-engined Elite! Granted, it’s been picked over pretty thoroughly… (Read More…)

By on December 23, 2009

dead but still kicking

Revivals are notoriously unsuccessful. But the lure of recapturing the magic of of the past perpetually goads men into futile pursuits, whether it be cars or women. The problem is that the changed circumstance of the times aren’t properly considered: the chemistry that worked so well twenty years earlier may not today.  But it all makes for colorful stories, depleted bank accounts, dented egos, bent valves and prematurely rusty cars. (Read More…)

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