Triumph Spitfire Tyres

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Triumph Spitfire 1962–1980

Triumph Spitfire MKIV on 155R13 Dunlop SP Sport Aquajet Tyres

Triumph Spitfire MKIV on 155R13 Dunlop SP Sport Aquajet Tyres

Triumph Spitfire MKI, MKII, & MKIII 1962–1970

  • The first Triumph Spitfire (MK1, MKII & MKIII) 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.
  • If you desire a wider tyre for the early Spitfire we recommend the 155R13 PIRELLI CINTURATO CA67.

  • "When I bought my 72 Spitfire, it had 165/70r13 on it. they were absolutely scary handling tires in high speed corners. I replaced them with 145hr13 Cinturatos and the difference is amazing. Totally happy with them. Also, price wise they may have cost a bit more, however spending a bit more on proper quality tires is a no brainer as that is truly where the rubber meets the road."

    Triumph Spitfire Tyres Explained

    Triumph Spitfire MKIV 1970–1974

  • The MK4 Spitfire in 1970 moved onto a 4.5” wheel because the wider rim was better suited to radial tyres.
  • The early MK4 Spitfire offered 5.20-13 Crossply tyres or 145R13 Dunlop SP Sport Aquajet tires, which are sadly no longer produced.
  • Again, the 145 R 13 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ CA67 would be our suggestion as the best tyre for the early MKIV Spitty.
  • The ideal tube for these tyres is the Michelin 13CG innertube.
  • The later 1972 production of the MKIV Triumph Spitfire fitted 155 HR 13 Dunlop SP Sport Aquajet as standard.
  • Our suggested tyre in the 155HR13 size is the 155R13 PIRELLI CINTURATO CA67 or the 155 HR 13 Michelin XAS FF. Both are excellent tyres for light classic sports cars.

  • Triumph Spitfire 1500 Tyres

    Triumph Spitfire 1500 Magazine Advert

    Triumph Spitfire 1500 1974–1980

  • With the extra torque of the 1500 Triumph Spitfire, it could carry the longer legs of a taller tyre, we suggest 155 HR 13 Michelin XAS FF or the 155R13 PIRELLI CINTURATO CA67.
  • These 155 R13 tyres would best fit an Michelin 13D innertube.
  • 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 ™; CN36.
  • It is worth bearing in mind that a wider more modern tyre carcass will make the effects of this snap oversteer far more dramatic and far more likely to happen if you push on in the corners in a Spitfire.
  • These tyres would best fit a Michelin 13E innertube.
  • Our period fitment guides disagree about innertubes in Spitfire wheels, early models likely did not have the safety rib typical of a tubeless wheel, but their thinness may have allowed some to run them tubeless anyway. At Longstone, our general policy is 'if in doubt, fit a tube'.
  • For more information on tubeless and tube-type wheels, see our Innertube Page.
  • For a 1300 Triumph Spitfire, we suggest the correct tyre pressure is 22 psi front and 26 psi rear. For 1500 Spitfire, we would suggest 26psi front and rear.

The Spitfire's 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 lose 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.

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    Triumph Spitfire Recommended Tyres

  1. Other Options for Triumph Spitfire Tyres

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Triumph Spitfire Snap Oversteer

Triumph Spitfire Snap Oversteer

These pictures display the snap oversteer phenomenon related to the Triumph Spitfire. Increased pressure and correct-size period tyres with rounded shoulders will help diminish this effect; wider tyres and more modern square-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 hopping up onto a rolled-under axle and creating a sudden lack of grip.

Triumph Spitfire Tuck in Swing Axle

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 pressure and also too much grip, which is enhanced even more by a wider square-shouldered footprint. 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 understeering and the contact point rolls around the nice rounded shoulders, it will gently drift a little rather than gripping and then suddenly letting go. Also up your tyre pressure 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 commonplace to come across a tyre test. Sadly, 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 relation to the other tyres in the test, so when a score of 1 is recorded, 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.

Triumph Spitfire at a Car Show

Triumph Spitfire at a Car Show

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).

Standard-Triumph designed the Spitfire to contend with the Austin-Healey Sprite in the compact sports car market. The Sprite has a lightweight drive system based on the Austin A30/A35. The mechanicals from the Herald saloon/sedan were utilised in the Spitfire. The Herald employed body-on-frame construction, as opposed to the Austin A30's monocoque design — a chassis Triumph was able to shrink, saving the cost of constructing an entirely new chassis-body combination.

Giovanni Michelotti, who had designed the Herald, fashioned the bodywork, which had wind-up windows (as opposed to the Sprite and Midget, which employed side curtains) and a bonnet/hood/wings/fenders assembly that opened forward for engine access. The Spitfire's launch was delayed due to the company's financial difficulties in the early 1960s, and it was later unveiled shortly after Standard-Triumph was acquired by Leyland Motors. When Leyland authorities discovered Michelotti's prototype under a dust sheet in a manufacturing corner while taking stock of their new acquisition, it was swiftly cleared for production.

Borrani Wire Wheels

Borrani wheels are available for your Triumph Spitfire. As agents for the iconic Ruote Borrani Milano company, we are able to supply all wheels from their extensive range.

Wire wheels made by Ruote Borrani Milano are, without doubt, the best wire wheels available. Borrani wheels utilize aluminum rims, steel spokes, and steel wheel centers.

If your Borrani wheels require rebuilding, then please contact us at [email protected]

Click the link for Triumph Spitfire Borrani wheels.

Wheels made by Borrani are available in the following styles:

  • Painted silver finish, as per the racing wheels of the period
  • Polished and chrome finish, highly polished rim, chrome spokes & wheel centre
  • Painted finish with polished outer edge

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