In the Six Million Dollar Man an astronaut, effed up in an accident, gets some new parts making him a better man. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Triumph has gained Miata parts, and man, does that make it better!
Yesterday's Celica-Supra may have had a name that was hyphenated, but according to 75% of you, it also had a price that was huffing it. Sadly, the first and second generations of these cars were a little too much Celica and not enough Supra for most people's taste.
One of the factors that might have stemmed that Toyota's Crack pipe vote was its originality and condition, having its factory motor, interior accoutrements and even its OEM wheels. That wasn't to be the case, however, and as today's car comes from the nadir of the British auto industry, the fact that it's not all original may just play in its favor.
The British auto industry has always been incestuous, and while MG, and Triumph started out as separate, disparate makes, they eventually ended up sharing parts and (along with others) circling the drain together as part of the industrial crap-fest branded British Leyland. Mergers like that rarely work out, as proven by the more recent ‘merger of equals' that was, for a short time, Daimler-Chrysler. Of course one of those brands turned out to be more equal than the other, and a good bit of party repartee at the time was the joke: How do you pronounce Daimler-Chrysler in German? Daimler, the Chrysler is silent.
Today's car is another merger of un-equals, although the Miata 1,800-cc four in this 1980 Triumph Spitfire is unlikely to be silent, and the Mazda twin-cam has a much better reputation for staying on song than did the original British 1500. The seller claims a 128-bhp out of the fuel injected Japanese motor; a healthy bump over the 71 horses made by Triumph's smog strangled single Stromberg wheezer.
Not only does it Tim Allen the power, but it's also lighter, sporting an aluminum block and head as apposed to the 1500's cast iron sammich. More ponies, less poundage, makes for a quick Spit, and while the little Triumph still sports a willowy separate frame and body, it no longer is burdened with the Herald's hitch up and kill ya' swing axle rear suspension. Up front are A-arms, and in testament to the engineering that originally went into the Spitfire, that front end was chosen by lotus for their Elan, Europa and eventually Esprit models.
Cosmetically, the car has the blues, and it has them bad. The steel wheels share the metallic azure color making for a bit of a blue overdose. Popping those off and giving them a proper coat of metallic gray might help, but as it is, this car is a blue meanie. The seller says that it had sat for 10 years before turning Japanese, I really think so. He also claims that the body was ‘minimally prepared' for the paintjob, which explains the fuglies under the trunk lid lip.
Inside, where you'd normally expect to find a termite's delight dash and hound's-tooth upholstery you will instead find leather-tex vinyl covering nearly every surface, and, surprisingly, the luxury trappings of both A/C and power windows. The Miata gauge cluster tucked in behind the wheel actually looks pretty OEM, as do the seats. If you're also expecting the Mazda's one hand top mechanism you will be disappointed as the Triumph top is intact, and as potentially leak prone as you might expect.
But the joy of a convertible, both Spitfire and a Miata, is top-down driving, and you almost get the best of both worlds here- the beautiful Michelotti body – albeit spoilt by massive plastic bumpers adopted in the Spitfire's last year here – with the reliability and comfort of a modern Japanese car. And all for $6,000.
Now it's not everyday that you get two cars rolled into one for that kind of money, and it's sort of like getting Siamese twin hookers that you only have to tip once. So what's your take on this 48K Spitiata for $6,000, does that sound like a merger of an interesting car and a good value? Or, does that price make this one a Spitune?
Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a tip, and remember to include your commenter handle.