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Lot 33: Austin-Healey Sprite

Cars, H&H Sales Limited (20 July 2011)


Thanks to its prominent, bonnet-mounted headlights, the original Sprite quickly became known as the `Frogeye'. The little two-seater, designed by the Donald Healey Motor Company and built by BMC at the MG factory in Abingdon, was launched in Monte Carlo immediately prior to the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix. The unique, one piece bonnet covered a mildly tuned, 43bhp 948cc version of the BMC `A' series engine already found in the Austin A35 and Morris Minor. The suspension featured coil springs and wishbones up front, quarter elliptic springs to the rear and lever arm dampers all round. The construction was `integrated' rather than a full monocoque and employed forward projecting chassis legs of the type used in the D- and E-Type Jaguars. The specification was minimal, there being no exterior door handles and no boot lid. Some 49,000 Frogeyes are said to have been built between 1958 and 1961, when the model was replaced by the more conventional-looking MKII Sprite. The Sprite was quickly adopted for competition by privateers and the Works team - the latter's first major success being the win of John Sprinzel and Willy Cave on the 1958 Alpine Rally. The cars proved handy on the race track too and to this day can be found in sprints, hillclimbs and autotests.

The Frogeye offered is a 1960 model. Originally Leaf Green, its factory-fitted 948cc engine has been replaced by a later 1098cc version of BMC's ubiquitous A-Series unit; the swap was a popular period performance modification and is noted on the two-seater's accompanying buff logbook. Purchased by the vendor in 1988, `WFS 495' was then restored over several years, taking to the road once more in June 1994. This pretty little Sprite is now offered with a string of MOTs dating back to 1995 including the present one which expires in August.

Lot Details
Auction Cars
H&H Sales Limited, The Pavilion Gardens, Buxton
Lot Number33
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)£11660
Condition rating0
Registration numberWFS 495
Chassis numberAN5/41128
Engine number10ANA-U-H3465
Engine capacity (cc)1098
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2