Triumph Spitfire identification
Part of the European Triumph Spitfire 1500 buyers guide

Copyright ©2000
by Eric Kieboom
All Rights Reserved

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Triumph Spitfires can be identified by a number of different distinguishing marks: commission (chassis) numbers, engine numbers, trim and paint codes. And to some extent even by the engraving on the windscreen.

The car's commission (chassis) number can be found on an aluminium plate riveted on the left hand bulkhead panel (non-USA models) or on a plate attached inside the left hand doorframe (USA models). Note: cars originally imported into the Netherlands have the commission number also stamped on the right hand chassis outrigger, just ahead of the bulkhead.

The number stamped on the little body colour plate riveted below the commission number plate on European cars is the body serial number. This is never the same as the commission number.

Triumph Spitfire commission numbers
Spitfire MkIV - November 1970 to December 1974
Model Year All markets except USA USA
1971 FH3 FK1
1972 FH25001 FK25001
to FK28000
1973 FH50001 FM1
1974 FH60000
to FH64995
to FM28000
Spitfire 1500 - December 1974 to August 1980
Model Year All markets except USA USA
1975 FH75001 FM28001
1976 FH80001 FM40001
1977 FH100020 FM60006
1978 FH105734 FM70001
1979 FH133501 FM110001
Spitfires produced after October 1979 did not have commission numbers, but standardised VIN's. VIN is short for Vehicle Identification Number. These were composed of five letters, one digit, two letters and another six digits. The meaning of all this is as follows:

First letter Always 'T' for Triumph
Second letter Always 'F' for Spitfire
Third letter 'A' for European market
'L' for Canadian market
'V' for US federal market
'Z' for US Californian market
Fourth letter Always 'D' for Drophead - even if supplied with a hardtop
Fifth letter Always 'W' for 1,493cc engine
Number '1' for RHD without overdrive
'2' for LHD without overdrive
'5' for RHD with overdrive
'6' for LHD with overdrive
Letter 'A' for 1979 and 1980 models
Letter Always 'T' - assembled at Canley
Six digits Production number, last one being 009898

The VIN can be found on the commission number plate. In addition to this, the very last cars had them stamped in the right hand boot gutter.

Commission number prefix and suffix codes
Prefix Suffix
FH- All markets, except USA & Sweden
FK- USA 1300cc models
FM- USA 1500cc models
FL- Sweden only
C- USA (complies with Californian legislation)
U- USA (complies with Federal US legislation)
L- Left Hand Drive
O- Overdrive fitted

On a standard Spitfire engine, you will find the engine number stamped on the top left hand side of the engine block, just below the Nr.4 sparkplug.

To be sure it's the proper engine (but not necessarily the original engine that was installed when the car was produced), the engine number in a Euro-spec Spit 1500 should always have the prefix ' FM'. If it says 'FH', it's a 1300cc MkIV engine. If it's a MkIV you're looking at, that'll be fine.

Over the years, many (early) cars have been fitted with non-original engines from other Triumph models. The following information may be helpful in determining what a replacement engine really is.

Engine Number Identification Chart
Prefix Engine Size Car
G 948cc Herald Saloon
Y 948cc Herald Saloon TC (Twin Carb)
GA 1147cc 1200 Herald
GD 1147cc 1200, 12/50 Herald
FC 1147cc Spitfire 4, MkII
GE 1296cc Herald 13/60
GK 1296cc Late Herald 13/60
FD 1296cc Spitfire Mk3
FE 1296cc Spitfire Mk3 USA
FH 1296cc Spitfire IV
FK 1296cc Spitfire IV - USA
FL 1296cc Spitfire IV - Sweden
FM 1492cc Spitfire 1500
FM with suffix UE 1492cc Spitfire 1500 - USA
FM with suffix UCE 1492cc Spitfire 1500 - California
HB 1596cc Vitesse 6
HC 1996cc Vitesse 2 litre (MkI, MkII)
KC 1996cc GT6 MkI, MkII
KD 1996cc GT6 MkI, MkII - USA
KE 1998cc GT6 MkIII
KF 1998cc GT6 MkIII - USA
DG 1296cc 1300 Toledo
DH 1296cc 1300 Dolomite
RD or RF 1296cc 1300 Front Wheel Drive
WB 1492cc 1500 Front Wheel Drive
YC 1492cc 1500 Rear Drive/Dolomite
FP 1492cc 1500 MG Midget
MB 1996cc 2000 MkI Saloon
ME or ML 1996cc 2000 MkII Saloon
MM, or MN
  2500 Saloon or TR6

The original colour and trim the car was delivered with can be determined from the paint code and interior trim code stamped on the commission number plate.

Interior trim colours
Trim colour Code up to March 1977 Code after March 1977
Black 11 PAA
Matador red 12 -
New tan 33 -
Chestnut 63 -
Beige 74 AAA
Shadow blue 27 -
Grey 78 -
Black & white "Houndstooth cloth" - RAC
Beige & white "Houndstooth cloth" - C74

Body paint colours
Paint colour Paint code Years used
Signal red 32 71-72
Pimento red 72 71-75
Magenta 92 73-74
Carmine red 82/CAA from 73
Flamenco red CAD 76-78
Vermillion CAE from 78
Sienna brown 23 71-74
Maple brown 83 75
Russet brown 93/AAE from 76
Saffron yellow 54 71-74
Mimosa yellow 64 73-75
Topaz yellow 84 75-76
Inca yellow 94/FAB from 76
Laurel green 55 71-72
Emerald green 65 71-74
British racing green 75 76-76
Java green 85/HAB 75-78
Brooklands green HAE from 76
Wedgewood blue 26 71-72
Valencia blue 66 71-72
Ice blue 116 71-72
Mallard blue 106 71-74
Saphire blue 96 71-74
French blue 126 73-76
Delft blue 136 75-76
Tahiti blue 146/JAE 75-78
Pageant blue JAG/JNA from 78
Damson maroon 17 71-74
Slate grey 68 71-72
White 19/NAB 71-78
Leyland white NAF from 78

Here's an obscure little trick to determine the approximate production date of a Spitfire, or at least its windscreen.

Find the etched logo on the windscreen, most probably in one of the bottom corners, that says 'Triplex Toughened' or 'Triplex Laminated'. Firstly, determine the year of manufacture by checking which letter in the printed logo on the glass has a dot under it. (You need to know the decade as this can't be determined):

Toughened    or    Laminated
..........         ..........
1234567890         1234567890

next find the month of manufacture by looking at the dots over word 'Triplex':

.                                       :    .
Jan    TRIPLEX (dot over the T)        Jul     TRIPLEX

.                                      :     .
Feb    TRIPLEX (dot over the R)        Aug     TRIPLEX

.                                     .     :
Mar    TRIPLEX                         Sep     TRIPLEX

.                                     .    :
Apr    TRIPLEX                         Oct     TRIPLEX

:                                            .:
May    TRIPLEX (double dot over T)     Nov     TRIPLEX

:.                                            :
Jun    TRIPLEX                         Dec     TRIPLEX

Thus, a Spitfire with a windscreen marked

.     :

indicates that the glass was produced in September 1974 (because it couldn't be 1964 or 1984).

The windscreen on my own car shows:

.     :

So the glass in my car was produced in September 1976.

Note: this is not a reliable way of determining a car's age, since the windscreen may have been replaced at some time.

If you think I've got my numbers wrong, please let me know!