Over the production life of the GT6 from September 1966-November 1973, three models were produced, taking their cue and styling from the Spitfire production at the time, but with the fast back Coupe detail, making a true Grand Tourer with the power to cover longer distance’s with ease and comfort.
The GT6 story began in 1963 when the Triumph asked Michellotti to design a fixed head coupe version of the recently released Triumph Spitfire. That concept was shelved when it became obvious the extra weight would be too much for the 4 cylinder engine to handle with any performance potential, and possibly an excessive cost for the target market.
The fastback body was in fact fitted onto a Spitfire chassis in Turin, christened the Spitfire GT, and driven back to England to join the small fleet of experimental one-offs used by a few members of the company. The pleasure the car gave to those who drove it worked an insidious magic and the Spitfire GT project became official policy in 1964.
The decision to turn it into a six-cylinder car, to handle the extra weight, was the result of progress with the up-grading of the Triumph Vitesse to 2-litre. It was a bit of a squeeze getting the 1998cc six-cylinder engine into the Spitfire’s engine bay, but by creating a rather complicated cooling system and a large hood bulge they managed it.
The Triumph GT6 formally debuted in September 1966 was, a few months ahead of the Vitesse 2-litre.
The GT6 Mk2 was introduced in 1968. It was fitted with an advanced lower-wishbone rear suspension layout; double-jointed shafts located by a spring at the top. The effect on the handling of the GT6 was very positive. The Mk2 also acquired a new cylinder head, borrowed from the Triumph TR5, resulting in an increase of power from 95 to 104bhp.
Due to differences in USA emission engine specifications, their model was known as the GT6+
The GT6 Mk3 was released in 1970, with similar styling to the Spitfire MkIV, the tail was “chopped-off” similar to Stag styling and the bonnet external seems removed. The rear roof line of the GT6 was altered and petrol filler/cap and door handles recessed to provide a smoother look.
Changing USA safety and emission legislation meant a considerable increase in weight and reduction in power of the carburetted 2-litre engine, so on the thirtieth of November 1973 the last two GT6s produced quietly left the factory.
It is interesting to observe that many of the “last” of the old and the “first” of the new models actually had features of the new or old models as the flow of components didn’t quite match the model run-out dates.
GT6 (unofficially known as Mk1) 15818 vehicles – Chassis Number KC00001 to KC 3752
GT6 Mk2 12066 vehicles – Chassis Number KC50001 to KC58046; KC75001 to KC83397
GT6 Mk3 13042 vehicles – Chassis number KE00001 to KE04596; KE10001 to KE14815; KE20001 to KE24218
Triumph produced the fun and affordable Spitfire for 18 years, during which time over 314,000 were built. Launched in October 1962, the Spitfire featured sleek styling by famed Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti. The car was an instant hit.
A 1970 design “facelift” by Michelotti freshened the car’s look for the new decade, and accompanying chassis and suspension tweaks improved handling. A larger 1500cc engine followed shortly thereafter.
Spitfire production ended in August 1980 as the car fell victim to short-sighted management at British Leyland, and U.S. safety and emissions issues.
From 1963 Spitfires were assembled from ‘kits’ here in Port Melbourne by Australian Motor Industries (AMI). If you have just purchased a new Spitfire, check the Commission number to see if it is an ‘Australian Spitfire’- Commission numbers beginning with a ‘2’ are AMI built. The Mk1 and 2 Spitfires had an 1147cc engine, Mk3 and Mk4 a 1296cc capacity and the final 1500 model had a torquey 1493cc motor. Australian built Spitfires were painted in unique local colour shades and contain numerous locally sourced components. The later Mk4 and 1500 models were assembled in England, and more recently several local enthusiasts have imported them from overseas.
TSOA Victoria has had a long and distinguished association with Triumph Spitfires. Many famous local racing cars and Concours winners have been part of the Club, as well as many daily drivers and much loved classics over the years. Many club members have restored and modified their Spitfires and are keen to assist new owners in offering advice and experience to keep these classic cars on the road.
In recent years there have been many Spitfire based activities organised by TSOA Vic – including Concours events, Historic Film Nights, Garage Workshop sessions, MSCA Race events, Sunday Drives and Photo Days as well as many feature articles and ‘Spitty Tips’ in the regular TRaction Club Magazine. So, if you own a Triumph Spitfire and wish to participate in regular events and meet fellow enthusiasts, or just need some restoration advice, join TSOA Vic Inc and become part of the action.
|Triumph Spitfire 4 (Unofficially known as Mark I)
||Oct 1962 – Dec 1964
|Triumph Spitfire 4 Mark II
||Dec 1964 – Jan 1967
|Triumph Spitfire Mark III
||Jan 1967– Dec 1970
|Triumph Spitfire Mark IV
||Nov 1970 – Dec 1974
|Triumph Spitfire 1500
||Dec 1974 – Aug 1980