The 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…)
Honda is gearing up to launch the all-new, turbocharged Civic Type-R, but they’ve actually made a boosted Civic before. And it was badged as a Triumph. The last Triumph ever, in fact.
Some 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 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…)
We’ve seen a couple of “poor man’s TR8” race cars in the 24 Hours of LeMons: you take a TR7 and drop a junkyard V8 out of a junked Land Rover into it. This works better than both the “really poor man’s TR8″ (a TR7 with Buick V6 swap), in the sense that it sounds a lot cooler, and is (slightly) more reliable than a Triumph Slant Four-powered TR7. Plenty of folks did this swap to their street TR7s as well, and I’ve found an example in a Denver self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)
A less-than-perfect Spitfire, like the MGB, typically spends a decade or three as a get-around-to-it-someday project car under a tarp in the driveway… and then it’s off to the junkyard when reality finally sinks in. I haven’t seen a beater Spitfire for at least a decade now, so this is one of many smoked out of its hiding place by high scrap-steel prices. (Read More…)
With nearly 180 entries, the 2010 Arse Freeze-a-Palooza will be the biggest 24 Hours of LeMons race in history, and it also promises to have the highest concentration of never-belonged-on-a-road-course awesome machinery ever gathered in one location. At this moment, I’m wearing the LeMons Supreme Court judicial robes and busting cheaters, which means that I’m finally allowed to share some of these fine machines with you and not ruin their grand entrances at the track. (Read More…)
Ken Dowd writes:
I’ve got high compression readings of over 190 lbs on all cyls on my TR4. The head has been reworked twice that I know of, about .050 has been shaved. I got these readings after putting the engine back together with all new sleeves, pistons, rings and a head/valve job. I CCed. the head at 55cc and crunched the numbers on several online compression ratio calculators and figured my compression to be about 9.5:1 Compression ratio on the stock engine is 9:1. Would you expect to see such high compression readings with such a small increase in compression ratio?
I’ve searched the world over and cannot find a spec for compression on a healthy 2138cc TR4 engine. Do you have any experience with after market solid copper oversized (thicker) head gaskets to bring down compression? That is the only thing I can come up with. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
For decades, British roadsters had a spell on Americans. And the rivalry between the MG and Triumph, the two leading exponents of the genre, was legendary. They each had loyal adherents to the respective marques, and the stiff competition kept the improvements coming, even if not exactly at a breakneck pace. But by about the time this TR-6 first appeared in 1969, the race was essentially over: the new MGC was DOA, and the MGB was quickly slipping into its ossification period, while the Triumph reveled in its final incarnation of the classic formula: old school, but with a healthy kick of life in it yet. (Read More…)