Introduction

I’ve had a Triumph Spitfire 1500 since I left university in er, well let’s just say it was a long time ago! I drove it everywhere, entered, and won, competitions in it, took girlfriends on first dates in it, polished it to within an inch of its life and knew I’d never part with it.

Thankfully I never did but for the past 20 years I may as well have because it has sat, in several pieces, in my garage looking very sad.

My Lovely Spitty Sat In Bits For 20 Odd Years

However all that ends with a commitment to take this car on a trip with five friends to drive the North Coast 500 in Scotland in just 12 months time. And not only do I want it restored in time, I want it restored to be a little bit special.

Take a look at these pics & videos to see how I’m getting on……..

How To Build A Fast Road Spitfire Part 1: Intro

Let’s Look At The Chassis

How To Build A Fast Road Spitfire Part 2: A Look At The Chassis
How To Build A Fast Road Spitfire Part 3: Chassis Back From Blasters

With the chassis back we were able to start building the suspension and we started with the front.

Front Suspension & Brakes

The wishbones were blasted, painted with a rust converter and multiple layers of filler primer, sanded and finished with black chassis paint. We considered powder coating but decided touching up chips and marks once the car was on the road would be far trickier if the parts were powder coated.

We’ve had new height and ride adjustable Gaz shocks on the shelf for a while so we added those together with 330lb springs, trunnionless vertical links, red poly bushes, a new 1″ thick anti-roll bar and brand new shiny nuts and bolts! You can also see here we’ve started with the braking system. We made and added new copper brake lines and fitted new braided flexible hoses.

Everything here is just loosely bolted together for trial fitting. It will all be torqued up later.

Trunnionless Vertical Link & Adjustable Shock

Here you can see we’ve also added the steering rack. This was treated with new red poly bushes, tie rod ends and new gaiters.

Steering Rack Added

Rear Suspension

The differential was good so was simply drained of oil, cleaned and painted and fitted to the chassis with new red poly bushes. The trickiest part was fitting the bushes to the rear of the differential. They seemed to be way too thick and so were thinned down a little.

You can also see here we have a 1″ thick aluminium lowering block which will lower the rear of the car. The rear spring will sit on top of this.

1″ Lowering Block Sits On Top Of Diff

The pivot box was sanded and painted and fitted to the rear spring with a new red poly pad. The spring will require longer studs to attach it to the differential due to the additional thickness of the lowering block.

Rear Spring Added

Back To The Front…..

Sexy Front Brake Discs Look Great

New drilled and grooved discs went on next using the original hubs. The hubs were degreased and cleaned with a wire brush before being painted and treated with brand new bearings and longer wheels studs from a Land Rover Freelander. These are fitted in anticipation of deeper wheels, possibly too deep for the original studs to reach through enough. This next video will show you how to fit new front bearings and brake discs.

Rear Differential

Before we move on to the front callipers, we fitted those bolts I mentioned which attach the rear spring to the diff. As I said they had to be quite long to allow for the 1″ lowering block but they went in ok.

Longer Bolts Needed To Link Rear Spring To Diff

Rear Suspension & Brakes

We also started to build up the rear suspension which includes adjustable Gaz shock absorbers.

Adjustable Gaz Rear Shock

The rear brake back plates were manky but saveable. Firstly all the gunk, old paint and rust was removed with a wire brush drill attachment. They were then treated with Kurust (a Hammerite product which will convert the surface rust to a hard paintable surface in about 15 minutes – it is a white, milky liquid which turns the rust blue and then, when dry, black) and then painted black.

Back Plates Before & After Wire Brushing

One of the back plates is missing a bracket that the brake pipe attaches to. This will be fabricated and welded into place.

One Back Plate Is Missing A Bracket

Front Brake Callipers

The original callipers were refurbished and painted with gold calliper paint. We’re using Greenstuff pads as they’re a good compromise for road and track.

Front Callipers & Greenstuff Pads

Starting On The Body

The Brooklands Green body had been badly painted orange many years ago but was then never used. It’ll be returning to green but this time British Racing. The first job was to address the bulkhead which was by far the worst part but even that had only surface rust.

The loose rust and dirt was removed with a wire brush drill attachment before being treated with Kurust.

Bulkhead before & After Kurust Treatment

The worst area was then sanded further revealing quite a lot of deep pitting. This was treated again for surface rust, cleaned thoroughly, painted with etch primer and then filler primer.

Deep Pitting On Bulkhead
Bulkhead With Filler Primer

The filler primer will next be sanded before the remaining pitting filled with a fine 2k filler.

Meanwhile the floors of the bodytub were reasonably solid with just a couple of small rust holes and so the floors were cleared of dirt and loose rust and then treated with Kurust. Any rubber plugs were also removed.

Floors After Initial Rust Treatment

The boot floor has been painted with something similar to underseal. It will need to be removed before it can be painted. Some areas were removed with a wire brush drill attachment. The rest will come off with a DA sander.

Boot Floor Before & After Initial Sanding

The body under both wheel arches was covered with a thick underseal. Removing some of the loose material revealed a number of areas of body filler. You can see some of the grey filler in this shot. Watch the video to see what we found under the layers of filler, underseal and loose paint in the LHS arch:

Removing filler, underseal & loose paint on LH inner rear wheel arch

A first look at the underside of the body tub:

Inspecting the underside of the body tub

Driveshafts

The lure of shiny new parts is always irresistible and so a few bits and bobs were ordered to enable progress to be made to the chassis. I really want to get a rolling chassis complete with all brakes and suspension sorted as soon as possible. When the bits arrived I progressed with getting the driveshafts cleaned, painted and rebuilt with new bearings, oil seals, gaskets and grease. Here’s a video of all the parts ready to be put together:

Parts for our driveshafts

Rear Brakes

Now this is slightly embarrassing. As you know, I’ve had this car for a very long time but I have only just noticed the rear brakes are not standard Spitfire. They’re much bigger and likely to be GT6! That’s great in that it means they will be more effective with a bigger shoe surface area. It does however mean I can no longer add the Alfin finned brake drums I was planning to use as they’re not available for the GT6. At least I’ll save around £500! Look at the size difference:

Standard Spitfire drum (top) v my bigger drum

Well, they’re not GT6! What are these rear brakes from?!!

Rear brakes progress

We have a dilemma! Should I paint these boring looking but larger than standard rear brake drums gold to match the uprated front calipers? What do you think?

Should I paint these drums gold?

We have heard back from Nick at Rimmer Bros www.RimmerBros.com and he has discovered which car our rear brake drums are from! He has scoured their warehouse and found a match with Triumph Vitesse! These are a Herald bodied car with a straight six engine, hence the larger drums. Brilliant! Shoes have now been ordered so fingers crossed these will go on ok and we can move on with the project!

The Vitesse shoes fit!

Meanwhile the results are in regarding whether we should paint the brake drums gold to match the front calipers. The overwhelming vote was to NOT paint them gold so they will be polished and painted black to match the chassis. Thanks for your votes!

Keep checking back to see how we get on!