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My dreams are haunted by the bones of a Triumph GT6+

A few years ago, I wrote a piece about a 1970 Triumph GT6+ that I bought in the summer of ’76, just after I graduated high school—how it was the first and easily the worst car I’ve ever owned, and how the rust, metal fatigue, and electrical issues (headlights dying at night and wipers dying in the rain) verified that everything bad you’ve ever heard about British cars is true. The experience was so negative that it waved me off British cars for 37 years, until I bought a dead ’74 Lotus Europa Twin Cam Special in 2013, a decision for which I still have no defense.


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The bent front bumper support lends credence that this frame is very possibly that of the author.  Be that as it may, my story is about a 1965 Spitfire 4 (AKA Mk1).  The little red sports roadster was actually my wife's car; she loved it till the "end".  The beginning of the end came when the Spitfire was rear-ended at an intersection by a 1970 Pontiac LeMans.  That pointy grill/bumper was jammed directly into the center of the Spitfire's rear end.  Damage was substantial, but the driver of the other car worked for the Pontiac dealer and made an arrangement with his employer to have the TR repaired and resprayed at the dealer's body shop.  They did a great job and we had the car back in no time.  After a while, we noticed something wasn't quite right about the little roadster.  We passed it off as a "British Car Quirk" and drove the car for a couple more years.  Later, during a routine car service, the technician told us that the car had a bent rear axle.  We thought he was kidding until he showed us that the right rear tire "wobbled" when it rotated, however very slightly.  It had been a couple of years since the collision, but the bent axle likely was a result of that fender bender.  We decided to keep driving the car until it started using oil.  The Spitfire's engine breather was insufficient to support the "blow-by" created by the aging engine; so, oil began to dribble out of the dip stick tube.  Unfortunately, the dipstick tube was directly above the exhaust pipe and oill started dripping onto the hot exhaust pipe.  Living in California, it was just a matter of time before a CHP Officer "wrote us up" for a smoky vehicle.  We were given the choice of repairing the aging engine or parking the car.  Personal finances prohibited rebuilding the engine; so; we sold the car, as-is, to a gentleman who would repair the engine and keep the car on the road.  The body and interior were perfect, the near-new tires were mounted on Lotus Elan wheels and everything else on the car was perfect.  We accepted $100 cash for the car and watched it drive off into the sunset.  Oh, if we only still had that cute, little car...

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