My Favorite Mistake

Want to buy a classic British Roadster? Don't do it.

But if you do, please just don't do it the way I did, many years ago...



Why a Spitfire?


Because its Michelotti lines always looked great and, at the time (2006), the Spitfire was the cheapest option if one wanted a British roadster.

Why I wanted a British roadster, given I come from the land of the AlfaRomeo Spider and Fiat 124? Because at the time I wanted something different: the Spitfire wasn't a particularly rare car in Italy, but it wasn't embedded in the public imagination like the Alfas and Fiats... People would see the Spitfire pass, appreciate its sleek look, but would rarely, if ever, know what it was.

So I soon found a nice looking '76 to go and see...


... And I bought it straight away!

It was a sunny, warm Sunday in late spring, the "British Racing Green" paint shining, making a lovely contrast with the beige interior... We went for a drive.

Second gear wouldn't select without sonorous grinding of the cogs, meaning a gearbox rebuild was needed, but I had the wind in my hair, a leather steering wheel in my hands, so all was well with the world... And with the car, at least in my mind.

That "honeymoon" period wasn't going to last long.


What I had really bought was an unloved, unsympathetically modified thirty-year old car that spent its last few years sitting in a garage, waiting for a misty-eyed optimist to rescue it and then emptying his bank account.

There was no guarantee to actually make it to any destination, no matter how close it was... My Spitfire badly needed some tender, loving care, so I set out finding a workshop, as I've never been very good at tinkering.

Thanks to the lovely folks of the Italian Triumph Spitfire Register, I soon found the right mechanic for my baby: have to say I enjoyed the rather frequent visit to his shop, as it was a sort of "Mecca" for all things British in the Turin area: Jaguars, MGs, Rolls-Royces, the lot! Gearbox rebuild, then suspension rebuild, then sorting out all the electrical system, then putting new wood on the dash and new carpeting inside... The bills started to pile up, my Spitfire was getting better... It was going to be great, I already had my "gentleman driver" gloves!


My Spitfire was huge fun to drive, part of me still longs for such a pure, analog driving experience... But not one that always ends on a tow truck.

No matter how many components were replaced or rebuilt, my Spitfire was such a cascade of problems (from the dramatic to the merely irritating) that, after too many breakdowns, I was no longer trusting the car for the pleasant trips to the lakes or the Riviera I purchased the car for...


To cut a long story short, I put the Spitfire for sale after the last time it failed to start, despite everything being new or refurbished. I had enough.

I'm sure my ex-Spitfire is still around, I hope its owner had a better time with it and treated it well, as you should with an old lady... Even if she's a temperamental one!

Haven't owned a classic car since... Disappointment bit me hard, but maybe one day...



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