Advertising the Spitfire
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by Eric Kieboom &
Jacob Poortstra
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From 1962 to 1980, Standard-Triumph and later British Leyland (see also Spitfire history) marketed the Spitfire in more and less enthusiastic ways in the USA and on the home market. This is a selection of mostly US-market advertisements. Click on a thumbnail to open the full-size ad in a new browser window.

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Click to open large size ad in new browser window A general 'Leyland Motor Corporation' ad in the supplement to the 'Illustrated London News', the world's first illustrated newspaper, founded in 1842. Standard-Triumph was part of the Leyland Motor Corporation at this time and a picture of a Triumph Spitfire MK2/Mk II was used to good effect in this ad.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window In 1965, Americans were still racing their Triumphs and still being Triumphant. And Standard-Triumph didn't hesitate to advertise the fact in February 1966. Strangely, they also boast about the continuing success of the Triumph TR-3 in racing, even though the model had been out of production for at least four years.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window Nothing wrong with a bit of sexism, is there? 'Hairpins never trouble the Spitfire owner - though he may have to sweep them out of the cockpit'. The British ad goes on to imply that the Spitfire is a lady's car, but only as passengers. This was obviously long before the days of political correctness.
Contrary to a previous British ad for the same model, this one advertises the 'Mk2' instead of the 'Mark II' or 'Mk II'.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window While the previous British ad was a thoroughly sexist affair targeted exclusively at men who were hoping to 'pull' with their Spit, this American ad from Time Magazine is directed squarely and exclusively at the ladies: 'Triumph Spitfire Mk2. The he-man sports car for the she-woman'.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window Same style as the previous ad, but now in colour and with a reference to 'swinging' again. Notable selling point: 'requires lubrication only once every 6,000 miles'. Try selling that today.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window This American ad features the same picture as the previous British ad, but it advertises a cunning export scheme, through which American buyers could order a Triumph Spitfire from their dealer in the US, pick the car up at the start of a vacation in Britain, drive it for a bit over there, have it shipped back to the US afterwards and pay less import duty because the car was used. Pretty clever, eh?
Click to open large size ad in new browser window Joyce Hoffman was women's surfing world champion in 1966/'67 and dominated the women's surfing scene in the mid to late 60's. She didn't look half bad in those days, either, so the Leyland Motor Corporation (no mention of Standard-Triumph any more) was happy to feature her in a Spitfire Mk2 ad. She certainly made a good-looking car look even better.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window It's 1967 and the Standard-Triumph Motor Company advertises 'the hot '67 Triumphs' for the US market: Triumph 2000, TR-4A, Spitfire Mk2 and 1200 (aka Herald back home). Lots of hoopla about the safety features, which seem a bit laughable today.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window 'Why be pedestrian when 678 buys a Triumph Spitfire Mk2?'
Triumph advertised the Spitfire in the UK with such recommendations as 'voted best in the U.S.A.' and 'Le Mans Proved'. And if 678 was a little too cheap for you, you could always splash out on a hardtop, wire wheels, tuning bits to make the thing do a giddying 106Mph or - get this - an optional interior heater!
Click to open large size ad in new browser window Another 'Booming surf' ad. This time in B/W and without Joyce Hoffman, but the Mk2 Spitfire has centre lock wire wheels, whitewall tyres (it's clearly an American ad) and a badge-less badge bar on the front bumper. Hmmm, interesting.


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