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9/2/09 8:03 p.m.

I got it in my head that I want to start another project. I did a Spitfire a few years back but needed something bigger (two kids). So I purchased an early Bronco. I kind of miss driving the Spitfire and would like another project.

I would like something inexpensive, fun to drive and relativly cheap to restore with the abilty to improve performance later.

I was thinking of an MGB, Midget, Porsche 914 or another Spitfire.

Is the performance comparable? Prices? Part availability? Any other suggestions?


ddavidv SuperDork
9/3/09 5:12 a.m.

I tend not to be a brand loyalist. I call them as I see them. The Spitfire is slow and unreliable. The Spridget is slow and somewhat more reliable. The MGB is probably the quintessential sports car. Plentiful, easy to restore, and fairly robust. 914s, if you can get past the styling, are a bit slow but a good driving experience. Unbelievable rust, though, and difficult to work on. Some of the parts are really expensive too. You should also consider Datsun roadsters (some parts issues), Fiat 124s (very inexpensive to buy and own but have similar issues as Brit cars with rust and electrics), Alfa Spiders (comparable to the Fiat but more expensive), Sunbeam Alpines (very overlooked but worthy cars), Fiat X1/9s (a bit slow but tremendous handling) and Jensen-Healeys (dare to be different!).

André Rousseau
André Rousseau HalfDork
9/3/09 6:27 a.m.

Spitfire slow and unreliable?

How about a GT6

The other questions we should be asking. How tall/wide are you.

I tried a Midget ones yeah lets say I drove it once and never again.

Love the fact the GT6 is like a go cart, but working on the FIAT has been a delight. Its huge compared to the Triumph's I've spent time in.

TR4, TR6? Not that I'm fixed on Triumphs.

Trevor Dork
9/3/09 7:15 a.m.

I'll comment on what I know... Midgets. In stock form they are great fun to drive and easy and cheap maintain. However, they are small (it is not just a clever name). They are slow, BUT there are plenty of ways to get excellent performance out of these little cars. There are tons of performance parts available because these cars are still heavily used in SCCA. Just stay away from the rubber bumper engines with the 1500 engines. They are heavy and detuned for emission standards. I think the best year for midgets/sprites would be 1967. It had a 1275 without emission equipment, metal dash, attached convertible top, roll up windows, and fat bumpers.

Trevor Dork
9/3/09 7:23 a.m.

... further thoughts about the Midget you do not need to spend $11,000 dollars on the engine to get a car to keep up with modern traffic.

I've driven many other cars MGB, spitfires, 3000's, Z-cars, etc. And the Midget is the one I found most fun to drive. Not the most comfortable, not the most powerful, not the most stylish... just good unpretentious FUN.

bravenrace HalfDork
9/3/09 7:38 a.m.

In reply to kaw550:

Psst - TVR.

Tim Baxter
Tim Baxter Online Editor
9/3/09 9:01 a.m.

1) Find something that looks interesting and appears to be within the realm of what you're willing to restore. At this point, don't get hung up on nameplates. Maybe it's an MGB that sings to you, maybe it's an early Celica, maybe it's a Morris Minor panel van, an old Volvo or an Opel GT. They're all cool.

2) Once you've found something that looks interesting and restorable, do you like driving it? Do you fit in it?

Once you've gone through those steps, the rest is mostly details... for most of the common classics, parts are just a phone call away, so find something you want to see in your driveway and go from there.

And when you do, let us know what it is. We'll be able to give much better recommendations and advice.

rconlon Reader
9/3/09 11:01 a.m.

Start looking around and something will attract you in your price range and (restoring) skill level. It could be any of the above mentioned and maybe even an older European sedan will catch your eye. I have been happy with my choice but it could have been any number of possibilities.

Cheers Ron

KaptKaos Reader
9/3/09 11:02 a.m.

2 kids?

Do you need a back seat? That was my dilemma. So I bought a Volvo 122 Wagon. I kept the 914 too.

If you need a back seat, then your choices change. In California, our smog laws make pre-76 cars more attractive for hobby/fun cars. Your state may be different.

Also, the word "cheap" means different things to different people. So some clarification there is helpful, but here's my list:

Alfa/Alfetta GTV/GTV6

Audi Coupe GT

BMW 2002, Bavaria, 320i, 323i

Datsun 510, 280Z 2+2

Fiat 124 Coupe, 128

Lancia Beta Coupe, Fulvia($$)


Mercury Capri


Opel Manta

Porsche 912

Saab 96, 99

Volkswagen Scirocco, GTi

Volvo 1800, 122

I am sure that there are more, but if you need a back seat then these are some choices.

kaw550 New Reader
9/3/09 3:51 p.m.

I am looking to keep my bronco so I dont really need a back seat. I am 5' 10". The spitfire was a little tight so I am a bit concerned with a midget.

I was leaning toward a convertible but that is not set in stone.

A question on the fiat. Are Spiders and 124's the same? Do they all have a back seat? I did look into them a few weeks ago but it seemed like parts were a little expensive.

I also looked into the corvair.

Trevor Dork
9/3/09 4:18 p.m.

I'm 5'10" and 175lbs and I fit fine in a spitfire and Midget

kaw550 New Reader
9/3/09 4:51 p.m.

I just checked out the TVR and the 912.

I like both but I think they are going to be out of my price range.

ronbros New Reader
9/3/09 7:40 p.m.

how about a Jaguar?

ddavidv SuperDork
9/4/09 5:49 a.m.

The back seat in the Fiat should really be considered a parcel shelf. There is simply no leg room back there for anything more than a child who should still be in a car seat.

The only parts that are expensive for the Fiat are the body parts. Drivetrain stuff is very affordable, and the hydraulics are way cheaper than British cars (compare prices of master cylinders between the Fiat and the Spitfire).

The Fiat "124 Spider 2000" is all the same car. My handy noob guide to Fiat sports cars: Introduction to the Fiat 124

bravenrace HalfDork
9/4/09 6:01 a.m.

In reply to kaw550:

What's your price range? I just sold a nice TVR 2500M for $7900. There's another nice one on Ebay right now.

bmw327 New Reader
9/4/09 6:22 a.m.

The Audi Coupe GT is a great car. I found mine to be solidly built, quite reliable, and had quite a large back seat. I wasn't exactly blown away by the handling, but otherwise it was a good little car with great seats and a willing drivetrain. Parts availability was pretty good, too.

ddavidv SuperDork
9/5/09 6:45 a.m.

The Audi GT is a great car. I kept mine for 12 years! The handling stock isn't bad. With a 4000 quattro front sway bar things start to improve a lot. The one to get is the '87 with the 2.3 and rear disc brakes. Not easy to find, but worth the effort.

That said, my BMW E30 of the same year could whup it's butt on any road/track in stock form. Not as sexy to look at, but cost is only marginally higher with better HP, aftermarket support and parts availability. As much as I loved my CGT, when I sold it and bought the Bimmer I asked myself why I hadn't made the switch long before.

milanoverde New Reader
9/5/09 6:03 p.m.

TR7? Somebody has to take them in before they're gone! I have an 80 convertible. Totally reliable at least for the 8 months I have it!

pdmracing New Reader
9/5/09 6:54 p.m.

Get a 124 spider, cheap to buy, parts are cheap too & it seems they just get cheaper. I have had good luck with them.

Lots of porsche experience too, but parts are as expensive as my ferrari. so a 914/944 will cost you the same as a 911 to restore & be worth much less.

KaptKaos Reader
9/5/09 9:57 p.m.

Buy This Now:


Quickly please!! That is all.

kaw550 New Reader
9/6/09 7:25 p.m.

Unfortunately, it is on the other side of the country.

I am in Massachusetts.

I thought I found a fiat spider but there is some rust issues where the rear suspension mounts. I don't mind rusted panels or floors but I do not trust my welding skills on anything structural.

ddavidv SuperDork
9/7/09 6:40 a.m.

I'd be pretty terrified of buying any Fiat from the northeast. The rear suspension points are actually one of the last things to go.

Since you are in MA, you should give Danny O'Donnel a call. He may have something or know of something available. FUN Imported Auto

stu67tiger Reader
9/7/09 9:13 a.m.

I had a '70 Fiat 124 Spyder, and around Xmas '72, I started to notice rust holes in the rocker panels. Major patch job required. The body shop guy said I should sell it ASAP. Yes, in Massachusetts.

So you don't have to worry about finding any older FIATs from MA, they probably all went to the crusher long ago.


pdmracing New Reader
9/7/09 9:00 p.m.

I had a 72 bought new, in 82 they recalled them all for rust & paid retail, except mine! I just sold my 124 spider I had bought in atlanta, it was rust free, & I just picked up a rust free X19(that sold too) They are definitely out there & cheep too

kaw550 New Reader
9/16/09 6:08 p.m.

Any thoughts on the Datsun 1600 or 2000 roadster?

How does it compare in performance to the MG or Spitfire?

Are parts available?

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