Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Welcome Home, Little Spit!

I closed the deal on my new Triumph Spitfire tonight.  It's a 1974 model, red with a white factory hard top (and a black soft top too).

I paid $825 for it.  Depending on my perspective, that might seem like a smokin' deal: I've seen disassembled basket-cases posted for $750-900.  But they tended to be the rarer "soft-tail" Spitfires, which makes an apples-to-apples comparison tough.

And it's by no means certain that the car will ever fetch anything more than the purchase price plus what it takes to get it on the road.  It's got rust issues that are somewhere in that no-man's-land between trivial and terminal.  It's currently in non-running condition, with a possible bad starter and a probable need for a carburetor rebuild, and who knows what else once we get the motor turning.  The hard-top is missing its rear glass, and the interior is in very shabby shape.  I'm new to the British car hobby, but even I know that these costs can tend to balloon out of control.

So it's not a bargain, necessarily.  My dad always says "Body, interior, mechanicals - even a project car should have at least one of these things going for it."  If it weren't for the rust, or if the car were a driver, or if the interior was fresh - any one of those virtues might push it into "great deal" status.

Still, I'm pretty happy with my purchase.  I'll be even happier if I can sort a few things and get her on the road in the waning weeks of our Colorado Indian Summer.  We'll see....

So, What's the Plan?

The car's major needs are:

  • Weather-Proofing.  I have no garage, so our most pressing job is to get the hard top fixed or the new soft top installed.  Otherwise, the interior and rust issues will worsen over the winter.  Also, the window seals in the doors are bad, so water can flow down the windows and pool in the doors.  They'll rust out fast if I don't fix that, pronto. 
  • Brakes.  The previous owner (PO) installed a new brake master cylinder and started installing the rear drum slave cylinders, but the slave installation is incomplete and the lines haven't been hooked up yet.  E-brake is inoperable, too.
  • Battery & (maybe?) Starter.  Can't very well drive it, or even test the carburetor, if the car won't start.
  • Carburetor.  The ad describes it as needing carb tune or rebuild.  Once everything else is done, I'll need to figure this out to get 'er running.

The great news is that, except for the carburetor, these are not interdependent systems.  So I can run three parallel tracks:

  1. sourcing and installing a glass or Lexan rear window, gasket, and door seals; 
  2. jacking the rear up and getting the brakes together; and 
  3. testing the battery and starter with my battery charger.
So that's where we'll start tomorrow.

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