1968 Triumph Spitfire - the most patient Rusty Beauty
Helloooo! Long time no see, eh? Well, I was busy with other things, but I haven't forgotten about my promise to tell the stories of all the Rusty Beauties in my possession. Weather mine, partially mine, mine in the future or not mine at all, but with my hands all over them.
So let's have a round of beer and I will tell you about the 1968 Spitfire. I don't know too much about it, because the previous owner didn't know anything too, but I will tell you everything I know and everything since I picked her up.
So again that was an add in Kijiji, which I found by chance. I didn't look for it, but it just popped up and I couldn't resist.
I didn't have room to keep it, but I had just finished my 66 Spitfire (in the most part) and it was parked for the winter at home, so my hands were already itching for more. The price was very affordable and I mentioned that to Jake. He didn't even think twice. He told me to buy it and we would find the room.
I called right away, and luckily the car was still not sold. The owner, who was actually the husband of the owner, told me his wife bought it for herself and expected him to restore it for her. He was way too busy though and couldn't work on it for a while so they both decided to sell it. The condition was unknown, there was significant rust all over the place and the carbs along with the intake were missing. That was everything they could tell me. So yes, one more time I hit the jackpot. Exactly the car I was looking for.... or wasn't looking.... anyways - my type of beauty - rust and problems everywhere you look. What else could I dream for!
I wasn't going to be able to pick it up in the next couple of days, it was 300km away, but I didn't want to miss it, so I transferred the money right away in order to secure the deal. The next weekend I rented a trailer and hit the road with my son riding shotgun. It was beginning of November, but the weather was so beautiful and we enjoyed a very nice trip to beautiful Muskoka, Ontario. She was waiting for us and we didn't waist any time. Loaded her on the trailer and only then sure enough we had the traditional "oh, I can't find the ownership". Wow, I couldn't believe it.... It was the second time I went to pick up a car and it was the second time the owner couldn't find the ownership.... This time I decided to pick up the car anyways and even if the ownership didn't show up, I could still use it as a parts car and would still be happy with the investment. Luckily a few days later I got it in the mail.
Like I said we loaded her up and we headed home. We stopped here and there for a brake and quick photo shoot and we were home before dark.
In the shop we were very busy at that time, so I parked her in a trailer we used for storage in the back yard. Once we were not so busy anymore we brought her in and only then did I manage to look at her closely. It looked like the transmission was shot. The shifter was playing all over the place and when we were pushing her in the shop there was a very rhythmic clunk coming out of the gearbox. The engine was turning over by hand, which was a good sign. The body though needed many new panels and new floors. Like I said the carbs and intake were missing, but after I posted a video in YouTube one of the followers - JK Stevens contacted me with an offer that I couldn't resist as well LOL, so soon I had the missing parts in the mail. Once I got them I decided to try and start the engine. I installed the intake manifold and carbs, checked the ignition, filled up the rad with water, checked if there was oil and tried to prime the fuel system, but the fuel pump was shot too. So I connected a jug directly to the carbs and since the starter solenoid was not working I shortened the terminals and she started cranking. That brought a lot of constructive criticism in YouTube due to the fire hazard and I admit it was stupid. It didn't lead to anything, but it wasn't too wise from me. Anyways, she started and ran very well actually, but there were couple water leaks, so I didn't keep her running for a long time. It was enough to know that the engine was salvageable.
I thought that was going to be the last thing for the next year or so, since we had the 73 TR6 already in works, meanwhile we bought also the 74 TR6... But suddenly our trimmers remained without too much work and Jake asked me, actually he insisted to give them the seats to be reupholstered. You know me, I want to do everything myself, but that was an opportunity I couldn't miss so I agreed.
The seats were much worse than my MK2 ones. Looks like the car sat for a long time outside with no tarp or anything. So we stripped them and I cleaned up and painted the metal. The trimmers rebuilt the foam and I ordered the vinyl. Even before I picked up the car I had an idea about the body and interior color. The car was originally white, but I am not a fan of this color and I am not such a big purist to hold on to it. So I wanted a black exterior with red interior. The exact negative of my 66 Spitfire. So I ordered red vinyl. The Trimmers did a very good job and they even had time to build and wrap new door panels. I was really happy!
So these parts are ready, packed and waiting for the rest of the car to be restored. And again I thought that was going to be it for the next many months. And again I was wrong. Early in the spring I realized my 1966 Spitfire was in need of an engine rebuild. I thought I could avoid it, but the 1147 engine showed some evidence of damaged camshaft or pushrods or similar, so I had to deal with that. However I couldn't bring another car in the shop and disable it for weeks. So I decided to pull out the 1298 engine from the 68 Spitfire rebuild it and then bring my 66 Spitfire and swap the engines in a day with the idea that one day each engine would go back to where it belonged. And so I did. I pulled the engine, stripped it and started assessing the parts. Based on the condition of the whole car, the exterior of the engine and on the oil-like stuff I drained from it I was expecting all the parts to be shot.
How wrong was I... All the parts were brand new. All measurements were within the factory tolerances and the only problems were seized piston rings and badly corroded exhaust valves. The rest of the parts were salvageable. So in the next few weeks I cleaned up all parts, painted them, replaced the piston rings, honed the cylinders, lapped the new valves and assembled the engine.
As planned the 1298 engine went into the 66 Spitfire and the 1147 is still waiting to be rebuilt so they can be swapped back. The rebuilt engine is running like a Swiss clock, I already have more than 4000 miles on it and the 68 Spitfire is still waiting for it to come back.
Since then the empty shell is sitting in the corner. Sometimes it is getting covered by piles of stuff,
sometimes it is almost visible,
sometimes my colleagues are joking with it
and sometimes I do that myself.
I haven't given up on her, she is in my plans and in my heart, and I will take care of her one day, sooner or later.
All the above is filmed and you can watch the video version of this story here.
Oh, and why the most patient Rusty Beauty? Because she was there third, but she generously yielded her turn to the fourth and the fifth - 74 and 70 TR6's and now it looks like even the next one - the 72 GT6 will jump before her in the line. But she is patient and she doesn't complain.
So thanks for the company again, guys, it was pleasure to share one more story with you and I will see you for the next round of beer!