Junkyard Find: 1979 Triumph Spitfire 1500

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1979 triumph spitfire 1500

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.

Like just about all junkyard convertibles, the interior of this one is pretty well roasted to oblivion by many years of outdoor storage.

It’s possible that someone plucked this tube header before the car got crushed (I shot these photos last October in Northern Californai, which means this car is probably shredded metal bits in a shipping container in Shenzhen at this point), but there’s not much demand for smogged-up 1500s these days.

Those horrible 5 mph crash bumpers! Even in this apparently rust-free condition, nobody was willing to rescue this forlorn British Leyland machine.

The emergency run to the hospital in a Spitfire seems like a risky proposition, but it worked out fine in the commercial.

From the land of British Racing Green.

For the man who has lived long and well, it offers a respite from boredom.

This ad offers a more accurate portrayal of real-world Spitfire driving on American highways.

Chicks dug it, though, especially after pulling .87 Gs on the skidpad.

British Leyland had something for everyone!

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2 of 61 comments
  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Jul 12, 2014

    No Cali Stags? Opened your wallet wider and died sooner. By 79 this first buyer shoulda known better. Buy then cat was WELL out of the bag on BL. Typical British stupidity & the Calis that fell for it.

  • PunksloveTrumpys PunksloveTrumpys on Jul 13, 2014

    These cars have quite a strong following here in NZ. In fact most pre-1980 cars on our roads (unless they are completely rusted out or mangled in an accident) find somebody willing to fix up or restore them before the scrappers take them away. I ran into a few friends from the Auckland Triumph Car Club dismantling a Spitfire at my local U Pick several months ago, it had crashed into a tree and had a badly dented rear quarter panel. We took out the engine, gearbox, front suspension including the brakes and most of the dashboard switches too. Most of these live on in one of the participants Triumph Vitesse (that's a Triumph Herald with the 2 liter straight six engine. About 2 months after that had taken place I got an email from another club member with the following link in it: http://www.jaianila.com/353790363 Somebody had found the Spitfire and bought it about 30mins after we had left the junkyard with most of it's parts! Unbelievable, we'd honestly thought that poor car was crusher fodder (even by our incredibly generous Kiwi standards).

  • Lou_BC "Owners of affected Wrangles" Does a missing "r" cancel an extra stud?
  • Slavuta One can put a secret breaker that will disable the starter or spark plug supply. Even disabling headlights or all lights will bring more trouble to thieves than they wish for. With no brake lights, someone will hit from behind, they will leave fingerprints inside. Or if they steal at night, they will have to drive with no lights. Any of these things definitely will bring attention.I remember people removing rotor from under distributor cup.
  • Slavuta Government Motors + Government big tech + government + Federal police = fascist surveillance state. USSR surveillance pales...
  • Johnster Another quibble, this time about the contextualization of the Thunderbird and Cougar, and their relationship to the prestigious Continental Mark. (I know. It's confusing.) The Thunderbird/Mark IV platform introduced for the 1971 model year was apparently derived from the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform (also introduced for the 1971 model year), but should probably be considered different from it.As we all know, the Cougar shared its platform with the Ford Mustang up through the 1973 model year, moving to the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform for the 1974 model year. This platform was also shared with the failed Ford Gran Torino Elite, (introduced in February of 1974, the "Gran Torino" part of the name was dropped for the 1975 and 1976 model years).The Thunderbird/Mark series duo's separation occurred with the 1977 model year when the Thunderbird was downsized to share a platform with the LTD II/Cougar. The 1977 model year saw Mercury drop the "Montego" name and adopt the "Cougar" name for all of their mid-sized cars, including plain 2-doors, 4-doors and and 4-door station wagons. Meanwhile, the Cougar PLC was sold as the "Cougar XR-7." The Cougar wagon was dropped for the 1978 model year (arguably replaced by the new Zephyr wagon) while the (plain) 2-door and 4-door models remained in production for the 1978 and 1979 model years. It was a major prestige blow for the Thunderbird. Underneath, the Thunderbird and Cougar XR-7 for 1977 were warmed-over versions of the failed Ford Elite (1974-1976), while the Mark V was a warmed-over version of the previous Mark IV.
  • Stuart de Baker This is depressing, and I don't own one of these.