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1976 Triumph Spitfire Build thread

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Garage winch has now got a 6mm base, some support struts and 10mm drilled holes ready for installation. Sorry for the crap welding my welder was either blowing holes in or poor penetration and I couldn't find a happy medium for the metal(even through it does have a switch marked medium).


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More progress today finally glued the rear wing on and sorted out some missing metal on the bottom of the door recess, a momentous occasion the last time this spitfire had a driver rear wing was 1993.

Stick 'em on ebay - they could be worth more that the Spit to one of those avid collector types. After all, they must be as rare as Kurt Cobain guitars and those are fetching millions... Paul

I must admit this thread has had me doubting myself even though I know someone with a late Mk4 head on a 1500 with a non standard cam who says it goes great. Looking at the chart a Mk4 head will give

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  • 2 weeks later...

With work giving us a well being half day for work through the latest lockdown it was time to tackle the rot in the passenger side wheel arch. First cut away some of the wheel arch to see what the extent is.


Clean up and remake the end of the crossmember


Fit the new cover plate and paint.


Next job for the weekend is to repair the wheel arch.......


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Bit of a frustrating day today. Decided to tackle the small spots of rust on the drivers side wheel arch and titivate the rear control arm. The control arm didnt want to play ball, taking it off was easy enough but the rubber bushes refused to come out without some serious argy bargy. Once they were removed the arm cleaned of the rust including the bush housing and some new paint I attempted to fit the new poly bushes, nope they didn't want to know, tried brute force, vice press, screw press, swearing loudly, a hammer they didnt want to stay in. I will now stare at them to see if divine inspiration will take hold. Any advice gratefully received.

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Crusty cross-member that. Neither of our cars was anything like that bad there. - though they made up for it elsewhere.

poly bushes not fitting in the eyes of the arms or not able to get the crush tubes in after? Not usually a problem - what make and do you have the right ones?

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I had a hellish time trying to get red polybushes into the rear trailing arms on mine. I came so close to giving up but eventually got them in, I even managed to break a vice but it was a very small one to be fair.

Given how many methods you've tried you've probably already thought of these:

  • use of a lubricant is always recommended
  • heat the arm with a propane torch to expand it, and keep the bush cold to shrink it - then try press it in

Getting them back into the brackets with the bushes installed is always a pain too even after plenty of road use, but I've got to the point now where I've evolved a system of well placed levers and lubricants.

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Doh it looks like someone but the wrong bush in the "support arms packet" they were slightly bigger than the rest. They weren't obvious until I put a vernier on them, found the right ones and all good now. On the plus side a new bolt set has arrived for the rear suspension so I'll swap the old rusty bolts for new ones and the paint has arrived too. I have even received my MG slave cylinder so I can get that back on the road too. 

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I have a couple of spare 1500 FM engines and I am going to use one for this build. I would like to make some of the cheaper mods to develop a bit more horse power. I will be taking the head to have unleaded seat done but I have also heard that it is advisable to skim the head to increase the compression, can someone advise how much to skim?

I have also heard fitting the Mk3 Cam into the 1500 is a good idea too, is this correct and is it documented anywhere?

Is there any other cheap mods worth doing? 

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Also on the penny pinching theme I have come across a type 9 gearbox which I could use on the spit and I have seen some conversion kits in the thousands and others in the hundreds, is there a recommended way to do this in a cost effective manner? I would like the gear stick and handbrake in the same position if possible.

My 1500 is non overdrive.....

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T9 is a significant improvement on the Triumph offering, even before the 5th gear is factored in.  To note....

T9s can be knackered too, they are all old and well used now - but parts are readily available in standard and uprated form.

The origins of the T9 makes a difference, affecting ratios and input shaft length.  In brief:
- 4 cylinder cars (Sierra, Capri, Granada), lower 1st gear, short input shaft.  Most common and best suited to Spitfire.
- 2.8 V6 cars, closer ratios with taller 1st gear.  Longer Input shaft, some late ones have stronger laygear bearings.  2.3 V6 Cars have the longer input shaft but same ratios as 4 cyl..
- Diesel/P100.  Longer input shaft, ultra-low 1st gear, frequently knackered.  Still potentially useful as core/basis for full build with a new gearset.

Fitting kits vary in quality and content.  Some suppliers (including those who REALLY should know better) don't differentiate between the different input shaft lengths.  Long input shafts don't fit 4 cyl Triumphs without shortening (obvious and fixable), where as short shaft boxes do appear to fit 6 cylinder cars but the pilot tip doesn't engage with anything.  This isn't obvious and causes various problems.

You need
- Adapter block to got between Ford box and Triumph bell housing
- Various clutch/clutch release mech parts
- Propshaft
- Rear mount

Gear shift position is well back from the Triumph position..  IIRC (and it's been a while so checking is advisable!) it's about 150mm back as standard (about half-way down the handbrake) but the 'box can be modified to move it forward about 75mm.  The mod is straightforward but requires aluminium welding.  Tunnel cover/floor mods appear inevitable.

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Day off today so more time to spend on the Spit.

Bit of a wet day so the gazebo I bought for trackdays/racing came in handy.


Fitted the radius arm so that drama is over.

Out with the welder again to complete the repairs on the rear passenger side wheel arch and B pillar.


and fitted the rear section repair plate.

IMG_20201120_144111.thumb.jpg.c962a49b8b29555bc97ee5388f35a18d.jpgand the inner wheel arch


All ground to smooth and acid etched.

Also got my 2 spare engines to my mates garage ready for a rebuild when I get some spare time away from bodywork.



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  • 4 weeks later...

Wow were did that month go........

A quick bit of research revealed that I have a 1975 1500 engine and a 1976 1500 engine. So the 1976 engine can go in the 1976 spitfire result!!!. I put the 76 engine on the engine stand and started to dig into it.IMG_20201128_134708.thumb.jpg.afff3fb3df07e643bf42a616b707dc16.jpg


A quick inspection revealed that although the engine was free pots 2 and 3 are worn and will need a bore and OS pistons unfortunately time ran out that day so I could find out what size pistons I need.

The 1975 engine is also free and I will stick it on sale to fund the rebuild of the 76 engine.

I have also received 3 x 1300 engines too....

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Onto the bodywork section.......

Managed to weld the small hole in the floor using some formed metal left over from the door repair and just happened to be the correct shape (well with a couple of hammer blows it was) which just leaves a repair required to the back of the passenger side rear wheel arch, passenger side windscreen gutter replacement and small repair to rear deck to complete the welding.

With welding being a pain to do in my very narrow garage and the heavens opening up which meant I couldnt work outside I had to find something else to occupy me. First was to take the rear deck back to metal and found quite a bit of filler on the drivers side.


then the windscreen to remove. The seals had turned into stone over the last 44 years so it was very difficult to release the glass. I did manage to break the glass (it was inevitable) but it already had a large star shaped crack in it anyway.


and out with the petrol tank which was one of the first repairs I fixed on the car all those months ago.


Yes I do need to clean out the boot.

I was thinking of painting the floor gloss black with chassis paint as it wont be seen when the carpet goes in, is that agreeable?


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Working in a small single garage is a bit of a chore.......  makes it really hard to maintain order - but even more important!

On paint, I generally buy a tin of brushable synthetic mixed to the colour that I'm going to paint the car and use that for floor pans (inside and out), chassis etc.  That goes over the top of some form of epoxy or zinc primer.


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Is the  72 a 1300 engine? If so what head? If spitfire I think you will get a CR that is too high. Toledo head (8.5:1 on teh 1300) would be good and give a CR approaching 10:1 from memory, but even then you don't want the 1500 cam in there. TR5 profile cam or similar is what the dark lord used to preach.

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17 minutes ago, zetecspit said:

Is the  72 a 1300 engine? If so what head? If spitfire I think you will get a CR that is too high. Toledo head (8.5:1 on teh 1300) would be good and give a CR approaching 10:1 from memory, but even then you don't want the 1500 cam in there. TR5 profile cam or similar is what the dark lord used to preach.

Been told its the later Spit 1300 head you need with the bigger valves which is the 72, I'm looking at cam options at the moment.

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18 minutes ago, hardhatharry said:

Been told its the later Spit 1300 head you need with the bigger valves which is the 72, I'm looking at cam options at the moment.

If it is a spit head, you will end up with a CR of 10.6, more if the head has been skimmed. That is too high for any cam suitable for a 1500.  Do your research carefully.

It is possible to build a torquey/powerful 1300 that will outlast a 1500 easily. Not cheap, but do-able.

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This should be very helpful when head shopping.

There really isn't much point trying to get a head with bigger valves already in though, if you are having it ported and new valve seats cut. I started trying to find a 218142 head but in the end just got a standard TKC1155 head, got the shop to put Mk.4 valves in and had it skimmed about 1mm.

Edited by RichardBaines
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