Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Brief History

If you have been waiting for a history of this most famous Triumph Spitfire to appear on our website then I apologise for the delay. For even though I have dreamed of owning it since I first saw a picture of it on the cover of one of Graham Robson's first books, The Story Of Triumph Sports Cars, written in 1973, and have actually owned it for 2 years, it has taken to now to collate the huge amount of source material we have gathered about The Macau.

It would have been easy to simply copy verbatim one of the many potted histories that have appeared over the years in publications far and wide, and we think we have a copy of them all! One of the the most obvious reasons not to do this, is which one should we pick, as they all seem to contradict each other in many fundamental areas!

The Macau Spitfire in its original form in 1965

I am indebted to many for their contributions but the following deserve special mention.
  • Vernon Brannon - owner of Le Mans Spitfire ADU 4B and president of the Vintage Triumph Register, who filled in most of the gaps through the cars history through its time in the USA in the 'lost years' the mid 1970s, up to its export to Switzerland in 1991.

  • Bernard Robinson - editor of the Triumph Sports Six Club magazine, 'The Courier', and long time Macau fan, who provided some lovely pictures, and moral support when the decision was being made to spend an inordinate amount of money on such a small car!

  • Kas Kastner - former head of the Triumph competitions department in the USA and one time owner of The Macau, who's reminisces and pictures can be seen elsewhere on this site (Kas Kastner Musings).

  • Fred Nicklin - ex Triumph test driver who in his time drove most if not all of the Le Mans Spitfires including lapping the Mira test track at nearly 130mph in The Macau, lucky man. A frequent visitor to our premises, Fred's reminisces always keep us spellbound, Fred you should write a book, wink, wink! One snippet of information Fred divulged is that he actually drove The Macau past our gate on his way to that famous Mira 130mph track test. Apparently we are on one of the former Triumph test routes. Fred remembered the run to and from Mira being almost as exciting as the track itself, remember the car wasn't registered and had a straight through open exhaust, he said it seemed that he was chased by every dog in Warwickshire!

  • Ray Henderson - head of Triumph experimental and in overhaul charge of the construction of all Triumph competition cars through the Spitfire period. Ray who still lives locally, spent a day with us, and amongst the many things learnt that day was that Ray used to keep his boat in one of our sheds whilst he worked at Triumph!

So here it is, no guess work, no copying other people's work, I have the car here in front of me and paperwork and photographs from nearly every of its 38 odd years.

left: Macau sits in the Standard-Triumph engineering department
centre: like production cars, it had a removable transmission tunnel.
Gearbox was a GT6-type all-synchromesh unit
right: crated ready for shipping to Macau

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