The Triumph Spitfire is classified as a 2-seat sports car and was first introduced to the public at the 1962 London Motor Show. The design for the Spitfire was based one that was initially used for the Standard-Triump in 1957, designed by Giovanni Michelotti. The platform that this vehicle uses is based on the engine, chassis, and running gear of the Triumph Herald sedan and was built at the Standard-Triumph works at Canley, Conventry. The bodywork of most vehicles at the time was fitted onto a separate structural chassis, but the Spitfire was initially designed as an open-top sports car from the beginning, and the ladder chassis was reinforced for additional rigidity.
This vehicle was originally created to compete with other small sports cars at the time, including the Austin-Healey Sprite. The Sprite used the same drive train as the A30/35 as well as a light body in order to make it a budget sports car. The whole idea behind the Spitfire was to use the mechanicals from the company’s smaller saloon in order to underpin the new project. The only advantage that Triumph had over the competition was that their new Spitfire used a separate chassis, as opposed to the unitary construction of the Austin A30.
The production version of the Spitfire wasn’t much different from that of the prototype, though the full-width rear bumper was dropped for two-part bumpers that curved around each corner with overriders. The mechanicals of the Spitfire were mostly taken from the stock Herald, except for the front disc brakes. The engine this vehicle used was a 1,147 cc 4-cylinder with a pushrod OHV cylinder head and 2 valves per cylinder that was fed by twin SU carburetors. Another component that this vehicle borrowed from the herald was its rack and pinion steering along with the coil-and-wishbone front suspension and transverse-leaf swing axle arrangement.
The Spitfire was one of the most inexpensive small sports cars at the time of its release with an extremely basic trim that consisted of rubber mats and a large plastic steering wheel. Some of these earlier models were referred to as the Triumph Spitfire Mark I and the Spitfire 4, a completely different car than the Spitfire Mark IV. The UK version of the Spitfire was capable generating as much as 63 bhp at 5750 rpm and 67 pound-feet of torque at 3500 rpm. This model Spitfire was capable of reaching a top speed of 92 mph or 148 km/h.
An override option became available for the 1964 Spitfire as well as a 4-speed manual gearbox for a more relaxed cruising feel. There were also wire wheels as well as a hard top available with this model. The Mark III was introduced in March of 1967 and it marked the very first major facelift that this vehicle received. The front bumper on this vehicle was raised as a result of new crash regulations and most of the bonnet pressing was used in this one, though the front end looked very different from its predecessor.
The 1147 cc engine that this vehicle previously used was replaced with a 1296 cc unit. The bore for this engine was increased from 69.3 mm to 73.7 mm with the same stroke of 76 mm. There was also a new and quieter exhaust added to the Spitfire with its facelift, and an SU twin-carburetor with a total power output of 75 bhp and 75 pound-feet of torque. The Mark III became the fastest model yet and proved to be one of the more popular models, though future ones did come with some vast improvements.