Paul Geithner’s 1978 Triumph Spitfire 1500

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This is my 1978½ Triumph Spitfire, which I purchased in March, 1994.  I performed most of the renovation work myself, including some head work and engine assembly, installing the overdrive transmission, modifying and rebuilding the suspension, remodeling the interior, and fabricating various pieces.  Bodywork, most of the paint job and many assorted parts are from my good friends at Mountjoy's Autoshop in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Much of the work you see on this car was accomplished in a concentrated burst of activity between March 1994 and June 1995.  I’ve made some changes since, but mainly I've been enjoying it by driving it as often as practical (I particularly like having the hardtop on in winter).  This car transforms my commute from a stressful chore into something fun and therapeutic.


kerb mass = 845 kg, i.e.,
kerb weight = 1860 lbs (no driver, no hardtop, half tank fuel)

peak power: 96 bhp/82 whp @ 5800 RPM (estimate based on 1/4 mile and 0-60 data)

acceleration (0 to 60 mph): 10.2 seconds @ 940 kg total test mass

1/4 mile: 17.4 seconds @ 81 mph @ 940 kg total test mass

top speed: 105 mph

fuel economy: 27 mpg (combined highway & city); frequent commuter car

lateral acceleration: >0.93g


1514 cc displ
acement (0.020” overbore), 9.6:1 compression, balanced

align bored block (s/n FM29089UE), standard polished crank, pinned thrust washers

flat-top 0.020” over pistons and wrist pins on stock connecting rods

stock balanced flywheel

dual-row TR-6 timing chain and cam gears

(short-block machining, parts and assembly by TSI Automotive)

“big valve” head (p/n 218139) w/ modified combustion chambers, ported and shaved

bronze valve guides, 3-angle valve grind, stock valve rockers on Tuftrided rocker shaft, stock push rods

“B” grind cam (280° duration, 0.409” valve lift; see Triumph Spitfire cam specs) and V.549 dual valve springs

(head work by Paul Geithner and Marty Brown Racing)

Megajolt Lite Jr. v4 crank-triggered electronic ignition w/ Ford Motorcraft® EDIS4 module and coil pack

(see photos of my installation and my ignition map)

Castrol GTX 20W50 motor oil

Fuel & Carburetion:

twin S.U. HS-4 carbs w/ manual choke

#7 spring-biased needles and "Blue" dashpot springs w/ 20W50 motor oil for dashpots

custom fabricated aluminum heat shields

salvage fuel tank rinsed w/ phosphoric acid and restored w/ POR-15 fuel tank sealer

new fuel level sender unit


Maniflow 4 - 2 - 1 header (p/n LM037)

S&S stainless steel 1 3/4 inch GT-6 intermediate exhaust pipe w/ resonator

(SpitBits p/n TH130)

Cherry Bomb Oval Turbo II muffler, p/n 545-16802, 2 inch offset inlet, 2 inch center outlet

Chrome bevel-cut tailpipe end (retail auto parts item)

Heating & cooling:

stock radiator and stock viscous-coupled fan w/ 180°F thermostat

stock passenger compartment heater


new clutch kit (clutch/pressure plate/throw-out bearing)

new clutch master and slave cylinders

rebuilt single-rail transmission w/ J-type overdrive (s/n FT23342)

using Redline MTL 75W80 GL-4 gear oil

new splined sliding-shaft type driveshaft

salvage 3.89:1 differential using Valvoline SynPower® 75W140 GL-5 gear oil

suspension & brakes:


QA1 9-350 350 lb/inch 9 inch free length 2.5 inch I.D. coil springs

(results in 6.875 inch installed coil length with car resting on level ground, lowering the front by about 1 inch vs. factory for improved suspension geometry and overall level stance)

QA1 MS303 adjustable dampers (lower bushing sleeves narrowed to 1.5 inches for Spitfire)

Addco 1 inch anti-sway bar (p/n 707) w/ reinforced mounts on A-arms and frame

wheel alignment: -1.6° Camber, 4.5° Caster, 1/32” Toe-in

drilled and slotted rotors and Hawk HPS HB118 brake pads

remanufactured brake calipers and braided steel flex brake lines


stock transverse “swing spring” leaf assembly (p/n 159640) refurbished w/ UHMW polyethylene thrust buttons, w/ 0.46 inch lowering block

Pro Shocks SM-401 dampers 

wheel alignment: -4° Camber, 1/32” Toe-out

stock brake drums, standard brake shoes and braided steel flex brake lines

wheels & tires:

M12x1.5 wheel studs (for Land Rover Freelander, p/n CLP9037L)

Performance Superlite 14x6” +26mm offset (4.52” backspace) ‘Classic’ wheels

Yokohama 185/55R14 tires (300/AA/A 80V rating)

frame & body:

stock frame (body number plate missing) w/ reinforced front anti-sway bar mounts

inner edges of front fenders turned up and rounded to provide clearance for tires

Silverstone Racing Green (PPG 43848) with Arctic White (PPG 91061) stripes

(strip sanded, three coats Deltron epoxy primer, three coats Glasurit single stage urethane

hand sanded with 1200 and 2000 grit, then buffed with 3M microfinishing compound)

AMCO vinyl soft top and “summer” soft top cover

salvage factory hard top w/ “winter” soft top cover

rechromed front bumper, w/ early (small) plastic front underriders (a la UK look)

rechromed stock rear bumper w/ outer C-channel and other hardware removed (a la UK look)

refinished door handles, painted gloss black enamel

refinished windshield top rail, de-chromed and painted gloss black epoxy

salvage early round fuel lid

stock bonnet prop rod replaced w/ two Sachs Stabilus Lift-O-Mat® gas spring struts (p/n SG125002)

LED illumination for trunk and bonnet


AC-Delco 7127-9 alternator and aftermarket chrome alternator bracket

group-58 size battery

55W driving lights mounted on spoiler, switched separately from headlights

stock harness and fuse panel, dressed in plastic wire loom


refinished factory walnut dash: stripped, bleached, restained, marine satin polyurethane

additional Smiths classic gauges:

   new dual mechanical oil pressure (0-100 psi)/water temperature (80-230°F)

   salvage voltmeter (from TR6), placed in stock temp gauge location

   new clock

new ABS plastic transmission cover

shortened shift stick (about 1.5 inches shorter) and custom made shift knob with LED indicator overdrive switch

center armrest modified into a flip-top storage compartment and armrest

stock tunnel trim, kneepads and radio facia removed

flip-up cup holders mounted to transmission tunnel

Pioneer DEH-X6700BS CD/FM-AM/Bluetooth/Satellite head unit mounted in custom aluminum and walnut facia

SiriusXM SXV200 tuner, with Sirius SUVA2 antenna mounted on boot lid

Pyle PLX62 6.5 inch rear speakers and Infinity midrange/tweeter home theater satellite front speakers

Jensen Amplified Marine AM/FM antenna (p/n AN150SR) mounted at base of windshield in front of ashtray

custom made panels (doors, quarters, rear, trunk) of 1/8 inch Masonite covered in vinyl

doorcap trim removed and exposed surfaces painted body color

aftermarket sewn cut-pile carpet kit

plastic dash overlay

rebuilt glove boxes with vinyl-recovered kneerails

refinished trunk with homemade cut-pile carpet lining and spare tire cover


click image for more photos