Austin Healey Sprite
Significant early Austin Healey ‘frogeye’ Sprite (nr 169) with matching numbers
The Mk1 Austin Healey Sprite, commonly known as the ‘Frogeye’ or ‘Bugeye’ in America, was launched on the 31st March 1958 and remained in production until 1961. This significant early car was produced within the first thirty days of production on the 28th of April and factory dispatched on the 5th of May to the USA. Incredibly, chassis number AN5-L/669 is still a matching numbers vehicle with its original engine block number 9C U-H 417 safely tucked under the unique Gerry Coker styled bonnet. BMC (British Motor Corporation) produced almost 49,000 of these cars and we are offering number 169. Our history starts in the early nineties with a passionate restoration by a previous German owner Rolf who clearly put his heart and soul into this important example. With a view to keeping the car in the family, sadly, little paper work is available but, allow us to let the car to speak for itself! A complete frame off restoration is clearly evident: engine; gearbox; front axle; brakes; new wiring; are all visible. Circumstances change and the wee car finds a new home in 2015 who then uses the car regularly but, realising its significance, with extreme care. This is a remarkable matching numbers survivor ready for immediate shows and fun outings.
The all-steel unitary construction is finished in British Racing Green. As with so many Sprites, this is now a front ‘bumper-less’ example; both rear bumper over-riders are in perfect condition. The black hood and rare one-piece side screens are included along with the must have accessory tonneau cover. All items are in pristine condition. The complete metal bonnet assembly was painted during the three year restoration, and although standing the test of time fairly well, it does now show a couple paint imperfections that could result in new paint, to be decided by the new owner. Appropriate bullet style wing mirrors and mesh headlight guards all add to the charm of this incredible little car.
“The car that offers so much – for so little” (when new this Donald Healey designed car cost a mere £669) is reflected in the sparse but functional interior. The black dash and controls look quirky and all function precisely as they should. The re-covered original seats are clad in appropriate black leather, accompanied by quality carpeting throughout – including a partial boot covering. Exposed to the elements, the all-aluminum door and dash trim, unlike so many examples, has patina and is highly polished. The bonus is undoubtedly the inclusion of what appears to be an original aged patina steering wheel; so often changed for the accessory wood version this one appears to have survived.
Engine & Transmission
The ubiquitous ‘A’ type B.M.C four cylinder O.H.V engine produces a healthy 43ps/32 kW and a very commendable 52Ib.ft of torque. Weighing a mere 664 kg in total, the robust 948cc engine moves the car swiftly along and, combined with its small dimensions, the effect is almost go-cart like. Excellent parts available and simple servicing has pleased DIY mechanics the world over for decades. Our detailed engine bay still houses the original block number 9C U-H417 and will please any Frogeye fan. For ease of driving, a comfortable weber carburetor has been fitted but, with the car essentially original, the standard carburetor is also available.
Wheels, Tyres & Brakes
The quirky yellow painted steel wheels are shod in quality branded Dunlop SP6 145/R13 tyres. A conventional Lockheed hydraulic system operated by a pendant pedal to all four drums offers fair stopping power commensurate with braking systems of this period. An additional set of brand new Minilite allows and new Continental tyres also come with the car.