London Classic Motor Show Practical Challenge Contest


The Challenge: Perform a mechanical restoration of a Spitfire over the weekend of the Alexander Palace Motor Show (while being watched by 100s of people) without using any electric or air driven tools, as these were not allowed in the exhibition hall. The car to be driven out at the end of the 2 day show. The event was not only a race against time but also against a team performing the same job on an MGB.


Work Performed: A Spitfire which had not turned a wheel under its own steam for over 5 years was stripped and reassembled and then finally driven off the stand. Front & rear suspension units were removed, overhauled & refitted (Front: shocks, springs, wishbones, vertical links, spindles, wheelbearings, trunnions, antiroll bar and links. Rear: halfshafts, H brackets, hubs, bearings, cart spring, shocks). Brake systems overhauled (new master, discs, pads, shoes, cylinders, copper pipes, flexible pipes). Steering rack overhauled. Clutch master & slave  replaced. Stainless exhaust & manifold fitted.  Carbs overhauled. Engine serviced. Seats recovered and refoamed, carpets replaced, rubber seals replaced. Wheels replaced.


Personnel: 3 Quiller Triumph mechanics, 1 TSSC club official, 1 Practical Classics competition winner who won the opportunity to work on a Spitfire at the Show. The event was compered by Jerry Thurston and Quentin Wilson.


Result: The challenge was completed and at the end of the show the car was driven off the stand, having not turned a wheel under its own steam in over 5 years. Furthermore the MGB refused to start and so we won both the race against time and the race against our rival team.


How Did We Do It? Mechanical restoration of a Spitfire in a weekend! A tall order surely? Well it was a tall order, but it was achieved, and with 2 hours to spare. Firstly some component assemblies were prepared here in our workshop beforehand, allowing us a hopefully fairly trouble-free fit. Also the engine was not rebuilt, as, although it had not run for years, we performed compression, float, and various other tests so we knew that it was basically a sound unit. It was given a comprehensive service on the day and fired up after only a little persuasion. Although performed over only a weekend, with 5 people on the job a total of 80 man-hours were jammed into 2 days. Furthermore Quiller Triumph and TSSC employees know Spits inside out. If we had been able to use power tools in the exhibition hall it may have been completed even quicker!


Read the full story in Practical Classics May issue