Triumph Spitfire Tyres
- The first Triumph Spitfire (MK1, MK11 & MK111) fitted 5.20-13 Dunlop C41 Crossply Tyres with 3.5” wheels
- For the MK1, MK2 & MK3 Spitfire we suggest 145 R 13 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ CA67 as the best tyre for the road
- The MK1V (MK4) Spitfire in 1970 moved onto a 4.5” wheel because the wider rim was better suited to a radial tyres so again the 145 R 13 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ CA67 would be our suggestion as the best tyre.
- With the extra torque of the 1500 Triumph Spitfire it could carry the longer legs of a taller tyre, we suggest 155HR13 Michelin XAS
- Often with these little cars and the accessibility of cheap modern wide tyres people fit wider rims. We don’t recommend that but if you do have wider wheels the best tyre is 175/70 VR 13 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ CA36
- 1300 triumph Spitfire we suggest the correct tyre pressure is 24psi front and 26psi rear. For 1500 Spitfire we would suggest 26psi all round
The Spitfires known handling trait was the snap oversteer when the swing axle rear suspension of the Spitfire was fully extended under hard cornering causing the rear wheels to tuck in and loose grip suddenly. The best way to address this is to fit the Pirelli Cinturato 145HR13 CA67, and increase the tyre pressures by considerably in relation to the original 520-13 Dunlop C41 crossply recommended pressures.
Worth baring in mind that wider more modern tyre carcass will make the effects of this snap over steer far more dramatic, and far more likely to happen if you push on in the corners in a Spitfire.
Triumph Spitfire Recommended Tyres
Other Options for Triumph Spitfire
Triumph Spitfire Snap Oversteer
These pictures display the snap understeer phenomena related to the Triumph Spitfire. Increased pressures and correct size period tyres with rounded shoulders will help diminish this effect, wider tyres and more modern squarer shouldered modern tyres will increase this effect. We suggest sticking with the 145HR13 Pirelli Cinturato CA67, its light steering and progressive handling characteristics will mean the tyre drifts a little gently before hoping up onto a rolled under axle and creating a sudden lack of grip.
How do you stop a Triumph Spitfire from suddenly dramatically oversteering?
Because of the swing axle of the Triumph Spitfire when you press on in corners the axle can roll under the car as shown in the pictures. This is enhanced by too low tyre pressures and also too much grip, which is enhanced even more by a wider squarer shouldered foot print. Fitting a proper period tyre such as the Pirelli Cinturato CA67 in the correct size of 145HR13 will mean that as the car loads up under steering and the contact point rolls round the nice rounded shoulders it will gently drift a little rather than gripping then suddenly letting go. Also up you tyre pressures compared to what was originally used in the 520-13 Dunlop C41 crossply tyres.
Independent Tyre Test - The Results
In the world of modern tyres it is common place to come across a tyre test. However in the world of classic tyres the investment never seems to be there to do a proper modern tyre test. However a German magazine in July 2016 conducted this modern tyre test using classic tyres. This classic tyre test has been translated from German to English. What is remarkable in this tyre test is quite how well the PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ CN36 classic tyre performed in the table at the end. The scores in this table are not scored in relationship to the other tyres in the test, so when a score of 1 is recorded, then that is a perfect score for a classic tyre or a modern tyre. It is wonderful to see that these classic PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ CN36 tyres can give such exemplary results.
History of the Triumph Spitfire
Built between 1962-1980, the Triumph Spitfire was a small two-seater sports car based on designs by Giovanni Michelotti and made to compete with the Austin-Healey Sprite. There were five different models of the Spitfire over its lifetime, the Triumph Spitfire 4/Mark I (1962-1964 - 45,753 Built), Spitfire 4/Mark II (1964-1967 - 37,409 Built), Spitfire Mark III (1967-1970 - 65,320 Built), Spitfire Mark IV (1970-1974 - 70,021 Built) and Spitfire 1500 (1974-1980 - 95,829 Built).