Ford Rosso Red
(Spitfire 1500 engine)
3/11/2003 – 22/09/2008
4 years, 10 months, 20 days
Purchased for: £1500
My first car, my uni transport, and the consumer of most of my student loan.
Although the registration date of 1971 made it a Mk IV the engine had at some point been swapped out for the later (and marginally better, though that’s a textbook definition of “damning with faint praise”) 1493cc unit found in the Spitfire 1500. It had also been resprayed in Ford Rosso Red, perhaps because it had originally been Triumph Pimento Red and the owner couldn’t stand the pre-faded orange-ness any longer. (No offense, Pimento Spitfire owners…)
I probably shouldn’t have bought this car – it was the first I went to see, the front suspension was clearly on its last legs, the engine was leaking oil, the owner wouldn’t budge on the price, and (as if to underline the point) the clutch master cylinder gave out on the drive home – but I fell for it the moment I saw it and ended up slowly dragging it back to a mechanically healthy state over the next few years. My dad and I reconditioned the engine (transporting a weighty engine block in the boot of my friend’s groaning Rover 100 (née Metro) in the process!), had the gearbox and overdrive rebuilt, overhauled and upgraded the suspension, and even threw a Dell’Orto carb at it for the shnort. Even when it tried to kill me with a spectacular trunnion failure at speed I still adored it, warts (and white Weller wheels) and all.
Unfortunately the move from uni into full-time work coincided with the development of major bodywork issues and, after parking it up for a while in the hope of tackling the repairs, I eventually called time and ended up selling it to a local classic car mechanic who planned to get it back on the road.