1966 Triumph Spitfire Mk II
4-cyl. 1147cc/67hp 2x1bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Triumph Spitfire production reached 500 cars a week by 1964, which helped make Triumph the top sports car constructor in the UK. When Spitfire sales had totaled 45,573, Triumph launched the Mk II in December as a 1965 model. Changes were minor but noticeable. The powerplant was still the Herald’s 1174 cc OHV four, now rated at 67 bhp at 6,000 rpm. The interior was upgraded with more comfortable seats, full carpets, and a vinyl covered dashboard.
Following competition successes, owners could now buy three different tuning kits. The interim kit included an improved intake and exhaust manifold and downdraft Solex carburetor, good for 70 bhp. Stage II kits a Weber DCOE carburetor and improved camshaft while Stage III was a competition motor, with twin Weber DCOE carburetors, high-compression, ported head, exhaust headers, a high-lift camshaft and a heavy duty diaphragm clutch. By Stage III, owners were well advised to modify the rear suspension with a pivoting the transverse leaf spring.
The hardtop Spitfire had been priced the same as the convertible model, but for the Mk II, the hardtop cost an extra $144 on top of the $2155 MSRP. The list of Spitfire accessories continued to increase, and buyers could now order special grilles, bumper guards, wood steering wheel and shift knob, tonneau cover, and luggage rack. Wire wheels and an overdrive gearbox were increasingly popular. Sales increased by 10 percent over the 1964 Spitfire and were now approaching 20,000 units a year. In all, 37,409 Mk II Triumph Spitfires would be sold between 1965-67.
The Mk II Spitfire was launched in the U.S. in spring 1965, along with the TR4A and by the time of the New York Show in April Car & Driver readers had voted the Spitfire “Best GT/Sports Car under $2,500.”
Dean of U.S. auto journalists Tom McCahill of Mechanix Illustrated tested a Spitfire at Daytona International Speedway and rated it over the MG Midget/Austin-Healey Sprite saying “if you’re a sports car buff you can’t possibly go wrong putting one of these in your barn. It’s worth every foolish dime you can’t afford.”
Meanwhile, competition successes continued and two fastback coupes finished first and second in the GT 1001-1150 cc class at the 1965 Le Mans 24 Hours, driven by Jean-Jacques Thuner/Simo Lampinen and Claude Dubois and Jean-Francois Piot. They were 13th and 14th overall and were the last two running cars in a catastrophic race, which saw 37 of the 51 entries fail to finish. Four Spitfires were entered: veterans David Hobbs/Rob Slotemaker crashed out in the seventh hour, and William Bradley/Peter Bolton blew up their engine in the first hour. The race was a parade for Ferrari, which finished 1-2-3.
On the other side of the pond, Spitfires won several SCCA divisions in 1965 and two cars came in second and third in their class at the American Road Race of Champions in Riverside, California.