9 October 2009

Our Cars: Jeff Peek’s 1967 Triumph Spitfire Mk3

Jeff Peek was at Hagerty only six months before being bitten by the collector-car bug. He found a 1967 Triumph Spitfire Mk3 on eBay, and quickly learned some valuable lessons about the hobby.

“My best and worst moments were about 30 minutes apart. My best moment was picking up the car in Grand Rapids. … But I only drove it 30 miles before the engine threw a rod.”

Hagerty employee: Jeff Peek has been a marketing writer with Hagerty since spring 2008.

Car: Jeff purchased a 1967 Triumph Spitfire Mk3 in summer 2008. 

Repairs and modifications (planned or completed): The previous owner repainted the Spitfire; it was red and is now a non-standard metallic green. Jeff had to rebuild the engine in summer 2008. The overdrive option has also been removed. Among Jeff’s plans for the future: new “dampers” (shocks), a new tachometer and new wood paneling on the dash.

Interesting stories: Jeff Peek: “I purchased this car on eBay. I used to own a red 1975 Triumph Spitfire 1500, and I had a lot of fun with that car. It was just too expensive for a college student to keep up, so I sold it. After joining Hagerty – and getting bitten by the collector car bug – I started to get an itch to own another Triumph. I found this one in Big Bear Lake, Calif., did a little research (too little, I’m afraid) and placed a bid that I thought I could afford. When the auction closed, I was the high bidder, with $1 to spare. Unfortunately, I needed that dollar and a whole lot more. My grand plan was to fly to California and drive the car home, but a friend talked me out of it. That’s when the fun really began! First, I had to pay to have the car towed down the mountain at Big Bear because semi trucks aren’t allowed on the road. Then I paid to have it shipped from the base of the mountain to Grand Rapids. To make matters worse, I had to have work done on the engine before I could bring it home. When the smoke finally cleared (literally), the price of the car had doubled. Tough lessons to learn, but when the sun is shining and the top is down, it’s easy to set that aside and enjoy the ride.”

Favorite drive: “I love getting the car out on a beautiful sunny day and driving it to work or to church or taking it for a short trip along the water. I don’t think this car was designed for long-distance travel (or high speed!), so short trips are the best trips.”

Best and worst moment: “My best and worst moments were about 30 minutes apart. My best moment was picking up the car in Grand Rapids. It was a thrill to see it lowered off the truck and knowing it was mine. I felt like a kid at Christmas. But I only drove it 30 miles before the engine threw a rod. It was a horrible, horrible feeling coasting to a stop on the side of the road – after midnight in the middle of nowhere. At least it didn’t rain.”

16 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Anonymous Unknown February 25, 2014 at 16:12
    I have a '71 spitfire total frame off resto, and custom, with 800 watt stereo and dvd. It appeared in your magazines before and after section in 08. We too (my wife and I ) love that car. Its a blast. Jeffs right not good for long hauls or high speed.
  • 2
    Anonymous Unknown February 25, 2014 at 16:12
    Don't throw that overdrive away. When functioning, it will greatly increase your TBTR (time between thrown rods). You just need to obtain some opposite-spin electrons and a bottle of replacement smoke. No man should be without his Laycock-deNormanville.
  • 3
    Anonymous Unknown February 25, 2014 at 16:12
    Hang in there. The worst is over. Have fun is the most important part!
  • 4
    Anonymous Unknown February 25, 2014 at 16:13
    Sorry you had problem! As for the long drive issue drop in a 5 speed gear box and your set!!!
  • 5
    Anonymous Unknown February 25, 2014 at 16:13
    The Two happiest days... When I bought my Spitfire on Ebay for $1700 and the 2nd when I sold it on Craigslist for $1700 I had it for 7 years and a constant need for repairs.... but still the most fun I've had with a car....
  • 6
    Charley Fitch Unknown February 25, 2014 at 16:13
    It would be interesting to know how many cars bought on ebay have had a big problem with them. For myself I picked up a TR4 that was advertised as "restored". Fortunately I brought my trailer to take it home (1,000 miles). The problem was to get the car in gear ( clutch slave cylinder was not working) to get it into the trailer. Then two months later the rocker shaft started making noise and I found out it was dry as a bone. I have now "really" restored the car and am enjoying it very much.
  • 7
    Ken Ohio February 25, 2014 at 16:14
    I myself have ALWAYS loved Brit cars my first was a new 1964 MG Midget, and another was a new 1965 Sunbeam Tiger 260. Now at 73 years young attributed to LBC (little british car) fever & after my retirement own a fully restored 1980(MFG DATE NOV1979)Triumph Spitfire which i purchased on Ebay from Mission Veigo Calif. The car was 2/3 restored professionally when i bought it. It was car carrier shipped closed cover to Cleveland & transhipped to my home in Canton, Ohio. When i recieved it the engine was scrapped and a new engine was installed. Now after 8 years of ownership it has created so much fun i made further upgrades & improvements such as gas bonnet struts rear air-shocks all new engine anncillary all new carpeted boot, Coker WW's, 5 speaker stereo. It is Hagerty insured for $10,500. Presently 'WHITELIGHTNING' is a SHOW & GO BEAUTY. The unique character of these cars will never fade & REMAIN one of the truly original open roadsters of all time. A seat of the pants experience.
  • 8
    John Progess Unknown February 25, 2014 at 16:14
    I got started with British cars because I wanted to restore something that was a bit unusual and that held their value. I now have done ground up restorations on a 1954 MGTF, 1960 MGA Coupe, 1962 MGA Roadster and a 1964 Austin Healey 3000 and still own all of them. People everywhere just love to see these old classics on the road. The bonus is that they are great fun to drive!
  • 9
    Keith unknown February 25, 2014 at 16:15
    Great fun car. I found mine in Calgary and the kids and I drove it back to Chicago (slowly <70) with the top down and ear plugs in. Our family enjoyed it for 12 years. Now a friend is training his kids to enjoy collecting too. You can fix everything yourself, even the alternator and now burled oak veneer on the dash.
  • 10
    Steve unknown February 25, 2014 at 16:15
    Sounds like fun , I know that british car service had one for 4000 in tucson with a new lower end, but I settled for the 200 dollar fixer upper MGB and the big start up is this weekend!!!! I agree that these cars are definately for the the short trips with the dog and wife! Best
  • 11
    Anonymous Unknown February 25, 2014 at 16:15
    I too drove a 1975 Spitfire in College, liked it so much I bought a second one while on my first job. Now I have a 1952 MG TD which I restored after owning for 20 plus years. Still look at Spitfires with great fondness. I love my Hagerty policy on the TD! Perhaps I need to add a second car to it...
  • 12
    Anonymous Unknown February 25, 2014 at 16:15
    Jeff's (re-)introduction to the joys of British car ownership reminds me of mine. Many years ago I came across a MG Midget while shopping for a Toyota. It overheated before I got home, all of 15 miles away. A portent of the future. But what a blast when the sun was out and the top was down!
  • 13
    Anonymous unknown February 25, 2014 at 16:16
    My Pembroke Welsh Corgi loves long rides in my (her) Spitfire. 55 mph feels like 75 in the Spitfire so you don't need to go to fast to feel like your racing.
  • 14
    Jim Bauder unknown February 25, 2014 at 16:16
    Sorry about your engine problem! But now you know the condition of the engine and hopefully the brakes, clutch, trans and dif, the drive line and U-Joints, etc, etc.! I have restored two TRs myself, a '58 TR3 (now sold) and a '68 TR250. I have had problems from time to time but I try to drive mine as much and as far as I can! If they are in good condition, they are great road cars! Drive 'em!! Regards
  • 15
    Luke Seaford September 1, 2013 at 05:43
    Fantastic little car.few cars excite like the spit, especially the mk3. Overdrive makes a huge difference. With suspension sorted it drives like its on rails. Isn't overly quick in a straight line but it doesn't matter. U are so low the ground and a few engine upgrades will be plenty for most people.
  • 16
    Jeff Vinalhaven ,ME March 10, 2014 at 20:44
    Of all the British sports cars I've owned my Spitfires have stayed with me the longest and for the most miles. A '78 1500, quite used when I bought it, spun a bearing while taking a girlfriend to her family house for Thanksgiving - 150 miles from my home [those pesky thrust washers!]. Once rebuilt, I put nearly 80,000 miles on it, summer and winter, before I sold it. After life with an MGB and a TR-7 [both were less demanding highway cars], I'm looking at Spitfires again. You can drive them anywhere!

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