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Last Spitfire Built.


DerekS
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Hello all, I'm spending a few nights in the warmth organising  the paperwork for my !500 Spit. It's one of these things I've put off doing and now I'm really getting in to it; enjoying doing it. I'm trying to find the exact date that the very last one was built (Pete, are you there? I think you answered this for me some time back and I've lost the note I made...sorry.)

Any book I have just says "August 1980". (Mine was built on the 1st of August.) Internet searches get the same result.

Presumably there was also a time on that date that someone decided it was all over, or did they just work to a normal day's finish time? The other question I have concerns the Commission numbers, the final one being 009898. Were all numbers allocated to cars built and in sequence? Was it a simple system? So, for example, if a car has the C/no: 008898 was there actually another 100 cars built? Or 007898, 200 cars built? Etc etc. Factory codes can be confusing to the outsider.

Daft questions, I know but I would love to have a clear understanding of the process. Thankyou for your patience...

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Derek,

If you search here for "The Last Spitfire", maybe it was lost on he Great TSSC Web Site Crash, or on CT, you will find that the actual last one off the production line is in doubt.

 

I wrote an article for the Courier about The Last Spitfire that I met in France.   The owner showed me the inside of the door cards where that was written, with a date for the last day of production at the end of August 1980, together with the signatures of several trim shop workers whose names I have traced and confirmed, even meeting one of them.  I regret that after more than twenty years he could remember little about it.    

 

But since then, and as a result of the article, I have seen another "Last Spitfire" with that written inside the door cards, but this time a RHD, British one.    And I met a man who was a line manager at Canley.  He told me that, as I suspected, the quality control system there wasn't as rigorous as it is in car production today, and that inspection took place and faults discovered at the end of the line.   The faulty cars would be part dismantled, sent back to the appropriate shop and inserted back in the line, so that earlier cars with a lower VIN would eventually emerge after cars with higher numbers.  

 

 He also told me that there was no celebration to mark the Last Spitfire off the line.   The Management realised their mistake and organised the pictures that feature in many histories as wholly posed events.  But my informant, on that last day of production, realised that the Last Spitfire was about to emerge into the daylight, rang the Photographic Dept. and got a snapper down there, just in time.  That could be just a story, but the Last Spitfire, with the highest VIN, that is preserved at Gaydon, is a tangerine orange colour - the Last Spitfire in the only genuine but B&W picture as it comes off the line is a different colour!  What is even more definite is that it is LEFT HAND DRIVE.

 

I have no reason to doubt that cars' construction was started sequentially, and that as you ask car No. 008898 would have had another 100 started afterwards.  But the order that they came of the line wasn't sequential.

 

John

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John, that's absolutely brilliant and thankyou very much indeed, it makes great reading! On the front cover of the most recent "Moss" catalogue is a photo taken of the production line, I can't see a date but to the left there's a guy leaning on what looks like a car waiting to be slipped back into the line. Am I right? Which would tie in with your information. Fascinating, thankyou!

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derek, dont think it was me , i would e mail steve payne 1500   reg sec  its in the courier , my book shows 009898    but thats just a haynes resto  book

so data is just copied from heck knows where,   the BMHI gaydon archive would be a good days searching contact them for a good day out in thier library

of old production records fab numbers

 

Pete

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Thanks for the reply Pete, I know you have helped me with quite a few questions over the past few years and it IS appreciated!

I have a few books and guides I've printed off the 'net, they all just say August.

It's like researching a family history, very enjoyable; it also reminds you just how much information members have in their heads!

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On the front cover of the most recent "Moss" catalogue is a photo taken of the production line, I can't see a date but to the left there's a guy leaning on what looks like a car waiting to be slipped back into the line. Am I right? Which would tie in with your information.

 

Really?   The Mos catalgue page doesn't even mention a Spitfire catalogue: http://www.moss-europe.co.uk/moss-parts-accessories-catalogues.html

Please scan and post it here?  I would like to see it.

 

John

Hmmmmmm.  "Leaning" on a car, next to the production line.    Things are different now in car manufacturing!  J.

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John, the Moss catalogue from 2013 and as you say they aren't listed now. I've been assured there is one on the way but...

Actually the photo is brilliant, its a really good insight into the system. There's a guy brazing a rear wing on with oxy-acetylene gear, what looks like a brown labcoat, leather apron, black trousers and best black shoes! I am trying to send the photo but bear with me, I've taken a pic on my phone but I'm having troubles sending it on to my temperemental laptop. but I'll get it to you. 

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XYZ

Yes... success! I have to admit I don't find uploading photos easy. Just hope i don't get sued by M**S for this, but it's one of those photos that the more you look at it the more insight you gain, brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
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Thank you, Derek!

I  think that is the most authentic picture I've seen of the Triumph production line!     Exactly as you describe, and so ancient looking, it could have been from the Ford Model T era, even though it was as far from that as we are from the Canley times.  Parts and panels in piles, Men standing around, although I was unjust to yer man on the out-of-line body, who looks as if he is about to shove it back in!    But is smoking a pipe!

 

For your inforation here is a copy of the true "Last Spitfire" picture.  I'm sorry that it is a scan of a photocopy, but you can clearly see that it is LHD.  On my copy the printed notices on the wall are easier to read, and show that the picture has not been reversed from an RHD model.     You can also see the tiny audience, of my informant and the line office staff, all that were there to see the passing of the Spitfire.

 

John

post-139-0-33277300-1449215890_thumb.jpg

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John, I cannot thank you enough, this is fascinating! You can't help thinking about the people there and in the background, how they were feeling at that time, optimistic, despairing, relieved even?

Photos like this are priceless! Thankyou.

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Further to the thread of a car's history, there's a very useful piece of information on page 46 of this month's club magazine by Bernard Littlewood, about the DVLA and the V888 form. Many thanks to Bernard, I was completely unaware of that.

And talking about magazines, I much prefer a hard copy to an electronic, one that you can keep and read anytime, on a plane or in a power- cut.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Many apologies to John and Celia Williams for not giving them the credit for their very useful information contained in Bernard Littlewood's article in the December magazine, particularly the DVLA V888 form. Sorry!

I sent the form off and, to my delight, their letter landed today.

For my £5 fee I got 10 sheets, going back to the original application for registration, absolutely brilliant! This has filled a great gap in the car history I'm putting together though there are still a couple of bits to clarify. I'm still trying to establish the EXACT date that the last Spitfire 1500 was built...

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

Yes... success! I have to admit I don't find uploading photos easy. Just hope i don't get sued by M**S for this, but it's one of those photos that the more you look at it the more insight you gain, brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

 

 

Fascinating photo Derek - thanks for uploading it; it reminds me of my own garage.... lots of cars in various stages of disassembly and none anywhere near the open road... :)

 

The three ladies in John's photo remind me of the lovely period ad for the Herald: "Oh look it's even got coathooks"....

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Pete Lewis suggested a section for "Golden Oldie" photos; I think that would be a real long-term asset to our Club, I really do.

Both pics can tell a load of stories, I'm thinking of "The Way We Were" in Classic Car Weekly, always worth having a closer look.

Pleased you enjoyed them Colin, thanks for the reply!

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  • 1 year later...

This is an extract from the latest FBHVC newsletter written by Ian Edmunds -

 

“Several people have drawn my attention to an unfortunate revision to the DVLA service to supply information about a vehicle in  response to a V888 request.  Up until September it was possible for a vehicle keeper to obtain all the registration history that DVLA held for that vehicle on payment of a small fee.  DVLA considered that researching the vehicles history was ‘reasonable cause’ for needing the information.

 

However, since September DVLA have revised the requirements for ‘reasonable cause’ and researching the vehicle history is no longer acceptable.  The V888 form itself has been revised to reflect these changes.  Further guidance on ‘reasonable cause’ can be found at www.gov.uk/request-information-from-dvla   We will discuss this further with DVLA but we believe that the General Data Protection Regulation does unfortunately leave them with no choice.  Thus, we have all lost a valuable service.”

 

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Isn't there a debate on this one? I remember a few years back that there were later cars came off the production line, or that owners found proof that their car was later in production than the one in the photo - factory workers writing on the inside of door trims that this was the last car off the line or something along those lines? 

 

(Here comes the thread drift - the paper shows the Matra Rancho - I remember being fascinated by those every time I saw one.... nowadays nearly everyone has a modern equivalent.)

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