We’re heading back to The Motorcar Gathering 2012 held at the Queen Alexandra Hospital here in Victoria last year in today’s post, continuing our running photoblog series “The Toads At The Gathering“. We’re going to learn a little bit more about me on a personal level today as I share a story about a car that meant a lot to me in my early adulthood. You really have to hand it to Mrs. Toad, she’s got more patience than most women when it comes to my crazy passions in life, so at the bottom of our post here please feel free to leave her any comments you may have of a sympathetic nature. She will surely appreciate that.
I love cars of all genres and walks of life. My prime love is for sports cars, and specifically convertibles. When I was in my late teens, my grandmother passed away and left me a few thousand dollars… you can probably guess what I did with that by now. Yep, I went and found myself a primo 1978 Triumph Spitfire that was partway through a restoration by a local shop teacher who really loved these cars. It was my first convertible, and a car that I remember very fondly all these years later.
The Triumph Spitfire was known in the 70’s for the successes it had on the SCAA circuit. I recall a plaque affixed to the dashboard that proudly showcased the years that this car was active and winning. It was a small car, one that was difficult for me with my 6’3″ frame to get in and out of, and many times I felt like my knees were wrapped up around my ears as I drove around in the car. Surprisingly, this actually gave me a better connection with the car as I felt like I became a part of it.
It’s a beautiful car. Low slung and wide, it out-handled many sports cars that were above its class.
If I had kept mine and finished it, it would have definitely looked a lot like this. The great gauges that came with it had chrome bezels, really adding to the overall character of the car. I wish my steering wheel had been so gorgeous as the example we see here, with the chrome spokes and the incredible wood wheel. Triumph did a lovely job of topping all this off with the woodwork on the dashboard. This added true British character to the cockpit.
The small 4-cylinder engine under the hood was fairly reliable and pretty easy to work on. The car we saw here at the show was modified to use a 4 carburetor side-draft setup. As I was working on mine all those years ago, I went with a Weber single barrel side-draft unit and had a complete custom exhaust system made up for it by a local craftsman here in Victoria. It sounded oh so sweet.
The combination of it being a very lightweight car with a prime focus on handling allowed these cars to really excel on the track. You could literally be driving down the street at the posted 30MPH speed limit and just turn right. I mean a 90* right turn that would find most cars spinning on their roofs in the middle of the street. The car just didn’t lean, and due to the engineering that went into the suspension design it stuck to the road like glue.
Couple all that with the ability to drop the roof and blast around free in the wind. What a great feeling!
The only real drawback to my car that I recall was found in the Lucas wiring. Frequently referred to as “The Prince Of Darkness Wiring”, the Lucas harnesses were well-known and highly prone to perplexing failures. I was lucky in my car, it never stranded me, but the gauges on the dashboard at times really acted completely randomly. We used to laugh about it and chalk it up to driving a foreign sports car.
I can honestly say that when we visited The Motorcar Gathering and came across this great example of a Triumph, I was very excited to see an enthusiast who had spent a lot of time and money bringing this car up to the level it’s currently at. It’s a remarkable platform, one with a really storied history, and one that is a pure blast to bomb around in. It really meant a lot to me to discover this car and to have a chance to spend a few moments with it reliving my own youth.
Thank you ever so kindly for your visit today! We love to hear from everyone who visits, so do feel free to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have below. Until next time, my good friends!