Austin Healey Sprite MK1 (AHS06)
The Austin Healey sprite Mk 1 was introduced in Monte Carlo on 20th May 1958 just before the Monaco Grand Prix. It was designed by the Donald Healey Motor Company and produced at the MG factory in Abingdon. It was intended to be a low cost model that “a chap could keep in his bike shed “, it first went on sale for £669.00.
The Sprite quickly became affectionately known as the "Frogeye" in the UK and the “Bugeye“ in the US, because of the way it’s headlights were prominently mounted on the bonnet. They were originally designed to pop up, somewhat like the later Porsche’s, but accountancy cost cutting meant that the headlights were simply fixed in the open position, this ironically led to the sprite gaining one of it’s most distinctive features and much loved cute appearance.
The Body was styled by Gerry Coker with help from Barry Bilbie, Healey’s chassis designer, who solved the age old problem of providing rigid structure to an open topped sports car, by routing the rear suspension forces through the body shell’s floor-pan, thus making the Healey Sprite the worlds first volume production sports car to use unitary construction.
The concept of a low cost model was utilised by using as many components from existing cars as possible. The engine was a tuned 948cc derived from the Austin a35 and Morris Minor. It was upgraded by adding twin 1&1/8th inch SU carburettors. The rack & pinion steering was utilised from the Morris Minor, the suspension from the Austin A35. There was no exterior door handles, the driver and passenger were required to open the doors using a lever located on the inside of the door. There was also no boot lid, owing to the need to retain as much structural integrity as possible, access to the spare wheel and luggage compartment was achieved by tilting the seat backs forward and reaching into the rear storage area, (boot). This was referred to as potholing by many owners, but which seemed to add to the charm of the little Roadster.
Price – £
Manufacturer – Austin Healey
Model – Sprite MK1
Year – 1960
Engine Size – 948cc
Transmission – Manual
Fuel – Petrol
Manufactured on the 9th August 1960 with chassis number AN5/44410, Registration 1189 MC is a home market car delivered to JR Inwards Ltd, Russlip, Middlesex on the 15th august 1960.
The first owner Mrs Helen Lilianbaird kept the car for 15 years and eventually sold it to Peter Davies in October 1975.
It appears that Mr Davies kept the car for a significant number of years and after some time came it out of long term storage when it was purchased by Mr Brian O'Donnell on 4th July 2018.
After a further period in storage, Mr O'Donnell then placed the car into the restoration programme here at Memory Lane in 2020.
It is currently in Epoxy primer awaiting paint. It will be returned to its original colour of old English white with red/white seats, red dash, red hood and red tonneau.