1959 Austin Healey Sprite Mk1

Offered from The Twin Sparks Collection a delightfully presented Mk1 Sprite in a glorious colour combination.Intended to make sports car motoring more affordable, the Donald Healey-designed Sprite entered production at MG's Abingdon factory in March 1958. The new car was officially introduced a few months later in Monte Carlo, just prior to the Monte Carlo Rally, underlining this brand-new car's sporting intentions. Its unitary construction body shell featured a distinctive rearward-hinging, combined bonnet and wings, which was topped by two 'bugeye' headlamps, thus ensuring instant recognition and the now familiar nickname. The Sprite used independent front suspension with rack-and-pinion steering, ensuring great road holding. Despite a Spartan equipment level with even the front bumper listed as an extra, the 'Bugeye' sold well, which perhaps was unsurprising as there was nothing competing with it either on price or performance.It first went on sale at a price of £669, using a mildly tuned version of the Austin A-Series engine and many other components from existing cars to keep costs down. The little Sprite quickly became affectionately known as the 'Frogeye' in the UK and the 'Bugeye' in the US, because its headlights were prominently mounted on top of the bonnet, inboard of the front wings. Originally the designers had intended that the headlights could be retracted, with the lenses facing skyward when not in use; but cost-cutting by BMC led to the flip-up mechanism being deleted. The front sheet-metal assembly, including the bonnet and wings, was a one-piece unit, hinged from the back that swung up to allow access to the engine compartment. The 43bhp, 948cc engine was upgraded with twin 1 1/8" inch SU carburettors. The rack and pinion steering and suspension were derived from the Morris Minor with the front suspension made up of a coil spring and wishbone arrangement with the arm of the Armstrong lever shock absorber serving as the top suspension link. The rear axle was both located and sprung by quarter-elliptic leaf springs, again with lever-arm shock absorbers. There were no exterior door handles; the driver and passenger were required to reach inside to open the door, and there was no boot lid so access to the spare wheel and luggage compartment was achieved by tilting the seat-backs forward and reaching under the rear deck.This particular Sprite again ticked the many boxes required to make it into The Twin Sparks Collection. With its truly staggering finish, it is remarkable to see such attention to detail on a car where you typically see corners cut due to the affordable nature of the car in the first place, but a truly brilliant result has been achieved with this car. It was subjected to a retirement restoration project commencing in 2005, and finally completed in 2012. It lived 30 years of its life under single ownership and the restoration has simply brought it up to a ‘better than new’ standard. The bodywork and paint were professionally undertaken by a specialist in Rolls-Royce, which explains its high quality finish. The cars mechanical and electrical components were either restored or replaced to the original specification wherever possible. The 948cc A-Series engine was re-bored and fitted with new pistons, reground crankshaft, new bearings, timing chain, sprockets as well as oil and water pumps. The only diversions from standard specification were the popular choices of fitting the improved 12G295 cylinder head, replacing the original SU Carburettors with 1¼ in replacements, a superior ‘ribbed’ gearbox driving through a 1098cc type flywheel and clutch assembly, all built to make the car have that little more poke and an enhanced driving feel.The original seats and interior trim have all been reupholstered in navy blue vinyl with a matching hood. The original steel wheels are wrapped in Continental tyres and the car can simply be described as ‘meticulously detailed’. Within the history file, you’ll find a huge stack of invoices for parts and labour for the car, an original Special Tuning Booklet, Workshop Manual and correspondence between the buyer and the builder.With a full restoration, regular mechanical attention, only 100 miles since completion and very sensibly guided, this is arguably the best Frogeye Sprite currently on the market.SpecificationMake: AUSTINModel: HEALEY SPRITEYear: 1959Chassis Number: AN511884Registration Number: 822 VMUTransmission: ManualEngine Number: 9C-V-H11373Drive Side: Right-hand DriveOdometer Reading: 28 MilesMake: RHDInterior Colour: Navy Blue VinylClick here for more details and images