1979 Triumph Spitfire Camp Raincloud LLC

1980 Triumph Spitfire

I’d like to formally introduce one of the cars I’m building for the 2024 autocross season. I’ve long been taken by the Triumph Spitfire thanks to the baby blue spit that sat in my grandparent’s garage. It’s one of those family heirloom kind of things. My dad remembers sitting on the hump between his mom and sister. It even wears the paintjob he put on it at the age of 14. I’ve began focusing a lot of my efforts on specializing in these cars, so it only made since to pick up a working example. Enter my 1980 Spitfire MKIV.

The car I picked up is, in my eyes, a fine example of a car from this era. It has its problems, but none seem too big to handle within a reasonable budget. When I first arrived, the car had obviously sat uncovered and the top looked a little wonky. Upon inspection, rain hadn’t claimed nearly as much of the car as I’d thought. While there is some rust on the car, I’m glad it looks manageable. The previous owner said the fuel pump didn’t work1, so he was using a universal 12v pump to a gas can. After installing a battery I brought with, The engine turned over with the key. That was all I needed to hear.

I looked around the interior of the car to make sure there were no glaring issues before I stepped out a changed man. I had found my car. I promptly paid the man and we loaded the car up. Luck would have it that the car was only four miles away from our shop, so it was a non-eventful trip back home. It was when we tried to roll the newly obtained spitfire back off the trailer that we noticed the front brakes were seizing up. The car weighs basically nothing so my brother and I were able to roll it back. The car made it to its new forever home.

With no more than half an hour of tinkering, I had a gas can secured in the trunk and was ready to diagnose the car. It started right up! This was a pleasant surprise, but I was impressed when the car went into gear. I lurched forward before cautiously testing reverse, and I backed up! The car runs, drives, stops and shifts! As fate would have it, though, the wires are a little wonky.

We’ve heard much about LUCAS, Prince of Darkness, but we’ve never me him head on. The headlights on this Spitfire MKIV stay on when the battery is connected, while no other lights or gauges work. Ok the oil pressure gauge works but that’s it. After a good cleaning, the wiring is one of the first bears we intend to tackle on this car. “Eat the frog,” as it were..

The car has now been vacuumed enough to see what we’re actually working with inside. We washed the car before parking it in the garage to knock off the general grime. Next time we’re with the car we’ll start cleaning the engine bay and running gear. This step should pay for itself in time. My hope is that we’ll be able to get a lot better control of rust and troublesome bolts if we can just keep it all clean (enough.)

This article is part of a series by Camp Raincloud on the Camp Raincloud LLC 1980 Triumph Spitfire.

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