1958 Austin-Healey Sprite
Year of manufacture1958
1958 Austin-Healey Sprite 'Frogeye' MK1 Roadster
Chassis no. AN5/8942
Having forged strong links with BMC in the process of developing the successful Austin-Healey 100, Donald Healey turned his attention to designing a smaller version intended to make sports car motoring affordable to a wider sector of the market. Raiding the BMC parts bin for suitable components, Healey used the Austin A35's 948cc A-Series engine, gearbox, front suspension, and rear axle, though he chose to up-rate the rest of the running gear by using Morris Minor rack-and-pinion steering and an MG master cylinder for the hydraulic brakes (the A35's rears were mechanical). Equipped with twin SU carburettors, the engine produced 43bhp, which was good enough for a top speed of around 140km/h.
Although its power train and running gear were entirely conventional, as well as thoroughly tried and tested, Healey's new baby was notable for its state-of-the-art unitary construction body/chassis. Christened 'Sprite', the new sports car entered production at MG's Abingdon factory in March 1958 featuring a distinctive forward-hinging bonnet/wings topped by two fixed 'Frog Eye' headlamps, thus ensuring instant recognition and the now-familiar nickname. Despite a Spartan equipment level - even the front bumper was listed as an extra! - the 'Frog Eye' sold well, which was not really surprising as there was nothing competing with it either on price or performance.
A very well presented early example of the much loved 'Frog Eye' Sprite that brought affordable sports car motoring to so many enthusiasts, this car benefits from a tuned 1,275cc engine endowing it with a level of performance vastly superior to that of an original 948cc model. Its accompanying BMIHT Certificate reveals that the car was built in right-hand drive configuration for the UK market and came equipped with a heater, windscreen washers, rev counter, laminated windscreen, a locking fuel cap, and front bumpers. The original colour scheme was Old English White with red interior and black soft-top, and the car was registered as '682 BRR'. Nicely restored in OEW with dark red stripes matching the re-trimmed interior, the Sprite was purchased by the current owner around 2013. It remains very well-presented following restoration, with a new soft top and side screen, a very clean engine bay. Equipped with front disc brakes, alternator, K&N Sport air filters, stainless steel exhaust and a stronger gearbox. This sporty Healey Sprite is 'on the button' and ready to use. An ideal fair-weather tourer, this excitingly up-rated 'Frog Eye' is offered with Belgian registration papers; UK V5 document for the registration '682 BRR' (2012); compression test printout; sundry invoices for work carried out by past and current owners; and the aforementioned BMIHT Certificate.