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 1967 ad introducing the much improved Spitfire Mk3 to the USA market, in March of that year. At last, the Spitfire had a real 'up and over' top and a piece of wood called a 'walnut veneer dash'. There was also a very welcome power increase. The 'sharp cornering' the ad speaks of wasn't yet as sharp as it was going to be in the MkIV, but never mind.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window Early 1967 UK ad introducing the Mk3 Spitfire to the British market. The picture is a variation on the famous photograph used for the early Mk3 brochure. Note how the girl in this pic is prettier, but still not in the driving seat. Prices were up: 717 for a softtop and 751 for the 'hardtop model', with which the softtop was optional. The heater now came as standard, though.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window This ad enthuses about the 'tough English muscle [...] in a sleek Italian designed body'. The reference to '0-60 Mph in 12.5 seconds' really shows how dated it is.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window This advertises the opinion of Car & Driver Magazine about the Triumph Spitfire Mk3: 'The very best thing to buy a Spitfire is because the thing is a ball to drive'. One wonders what it means... Did it roll a lot in corners?
Click to open large size ad in new browser window It's 1969 and Triumph goes after Volkswagen: 'if you can afford a Volkswagen, you can probably swing this car'. There's that swinging reference again.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window 'If this car looks like you can't afford it - look again (under $2400)'. And it does 0-60 Mph in 13 seconds (.5 second down on previous years) and has 'integral head restraints'. Seperate head rests came later.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window 'Triumph takes 3 out of 5 in the champion's championship'
Throughout its years of marketing in the US, Triumph kept emphasising the racing success of its cars. Best bit here: 'a TR250 placed third behind two factory Porsches (but in front of three others)'.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window 'What it was like, going up in a Spitfire'
A feeble reference to the aircraft with the same name. Paraphrases one of the more famous quotes from Sir Winston Churchill: 'never before, in the history of driving, has so much been enjoyed for so little'.
As an aside: people have e-mailed me, convinced the Triumph Spitfire Mk3 was really available in camo paint with a roundel painted on. It's not true, it was just a one-off for this ad.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window 'A sportscar for impoverished sports.'
This ad tries to sell the Spitfire Mk3 to people who are 'waiting to get enough bread together for a Ferrari'.
Click to open large size ad in new browser window Here's a clever way of cashing in on old glory: 'Own something better than a champion'. This is an ad for the (NEW! IMPROVED!) Triumph Spitfire MkIV, with a racing Mk3 (called 'MkIII' in the ad) in the background. It talks of stronger engine bearings, synchromesh on all four gears (long overdue), a new improved suspension system (at last, the dreaded rear axle got its swing spring) and - get this - a handsome restyling by Ferrari body designer Giovanni Michelotti. Trust marketing types to hitch a ride on another, more prestigious car maker's name.


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