July 25, 2024

Byrdr Automotive

Car and Comfort

Love-Hate Relationship With A Car

Love-Hate Relationship With A Car

Back in the late 70’s, and a few years prior to getting my driver’s license, there was one car above the rest which made my heart pound – a Triumph Spitfire. The Spitfire (lovingly referred to by enthusiasts as a Spitty) is a two-seater British sports convertible that looks sexy and is a blast to drive even though it has a dinky engine. The Spitty was made from 1962 to 1980, then the company went bankrupt.

I was infatuated with the car. Everything about it made we want one real bad. I saw myself driving around with the top down, sunglasses on, and my arm hanging out the window. It wasn’t even so much about picking up chicks with it – heck I was just 16 and life was more about getting a car. Price wise a used one was in reach for me even though I was just a dishwasher on the weekends at a Mexican restaurant.

My neighbor had a Spitty that he drove to high school every day. He put a custom exhaust system on his that gave it a load sound. You could hear him coming from a mile away. Finally I got to ride in it and that was when I knew I absolutely had to have one.

The whole subject of getting one was met with huge opposition from my parents. They thought the car was dangerously small and would eat me out of house and home with repairs. Like many teenagers I didn’t listen to them, and bought one behind their back. I figured I’d just ride my bike every morning to a buddy’s house who let me park the Spitty there, drive the car around, then ride my bike home to keep the car hidden from my parents.

Well, karma whacked me in the butt. From the moment I bought that first Spitty I had nothing but massive problems. After buying it the car broke down on the way back to my buddy’s house where it would be parked. I had no tools, it was dark, the mosquitoes were eating me alive, so I thumbed it home with a plan to deal with it the next morning.

The next morning I returned to where I left the car, but it was gone. I ran to the nearest pay phone and called the police. They said they didn’t tow it, so they’d be right out to the scene to make a report – it must have been stolen.

A squad with two officers arrived to the scene and one started asking me the questions for the report while the other walked around the hilly area looking for clues. Ten minutes later the officer looking for clues haled out “I found the car!”. I ran over to where he was only to find a skeleton of my car. I didn’t even have the car for 24 hours and now it’s a skeleton. The car was stripped for parts by thieves. Only the body remained – no motor, no interior, no tires, no gauges… nothing.

Needless to say my parents were furious because I was defiant. They were especially angry because I didn’t have insurance. All I heard from them was “serves you right”. Like a clam I closed and never brought up the word Spitfire in front of my parents again. In my heart, however, there was still a glowing desire to own one.

Years after college and in the working scene by then I had enough extra cash to buckle down and finally get a Spitty. It would of course be my secondary vehicle because over ten years had passed and those cars were becoming not-so-dependable classics. Good ones were really hard to find. Back then we didn’t have eBay or any internet sites to help locate one.

I ended up finding one in a nearby town, but it needed some repairs and cosmetic attention. The car seemed to run pretty good, but it wasn’t in a condition yet for me to enjoy as a driver. Nearly a year after I bought that Spitty it was on the road and looking sharp. There I finally was tooling around in a Triumph Spitfire.

Life was great until the car kept breaking down on me. One thing after another and money being poured into it constantly I hoisted the white flag of surrender and put it up for sale. It was hard to find a buyer for that car, but eventually I got rid of it. I was as happy that day as I was the day I bought it.

Twenty years later I got a call from my brother who was kicking tires in a Ferrari dealership in Denver, Colorado. He was standing next to a Triumph Spitfire in that showroom full of Ferraris. It was a one-owner with 24,000 original miles. He told me the car looked like it was brand new. His intent was not to raise my interest in buying it, but rather to let me know because he knew how much I loved those cars.

Not an hour later I was wiring a ridiculous amount of money to Ferrari of Denver. The car was becoming mine. I was going to own the most incredible Spitty on the planet. I couldn’t believe it. With more excitement than I’d experienced in years I shared the news with my wife. Luckily she remembered my passion with these stupid little cars and was fully supportive.

The car arrived to our home in Florida. It was beyond my expectations. It truly was like a new car in every way. I felt guilty driving it not only because what I paid for it would have fed a third world country for a day (just being facetious), but because I couldn’t imagine scratching it. I drove it around anyway.

I was overwhelmed with joy as I drove around with the top down, sunglasses on, and my arm hanging out the window. My dream came true – 33 years later. I had a grin from ear to ear…until the damn thing broke down in the middle of traffic. It had to be flat bedded to a place that thought they might be able to work on it. I didn’t factor into all this that the mechanics from the seventies who worked on these were retired or deceased.

Long story short the car always broke down. It sure looked good in car shows, but getting there was another story. So, one day I made the decision to sell it. I just couldn’t handle going out to dinner with it and having to take a taxi home especially the day after spending $500 to get it fixed. On eBay it went, together with all the trophies and ribbons from the cars show it was in.

The eBay auction went crazy – beyond what I ever imagined. I actually made a handsome profit on the car even after all the service I spent on it. I was truly happier the day I sold it than the day I bought it. I got rid of a headache and made a load of money. The first question my wife asked me as we watched the Spitty get loaded on a truck destined to its new owner was “so, is that your last Triumph Spitfire?” I replied “probably not”.