EXTREMELY WELL RESTORED, BUG EYE SPRITE, RESTORATION PHOTOS, NICE
The endearing "bugeye" Austin-Healey Sprite wasn't intentional, it was more a result of budget cutbacks. Originally slated to get pop-up headlights, the design was changed at the last moment and the resulting car became one of the most recognizable sports cars of the '50s and early '60s. This 1959 Sprite roadster offers a fresh restoration and delivers on all the fun that its looks promise.
It's hard to get a sense of how small this car is from photos, but it's pared down to the bare essentials. Fortunately, the essentials look pretty darned good with a low-slung two-seat body plenty of character. The restoration was carried out to standards beyond those available to the guys working over in England and it looks like it should cost more than it does. The big clamshell style front end that opens like a funny car is expertly finished and smoothed, the doors fit about how they would have in 1959, and the surfaces were extensively block sanded and smoothed to create a beautiful final finish. There's no trunk lid, so the curvaceous rear end looks great, again suggesting a more expensive car, and the little British details like the taillights and wide number plate opening low in the bodywork enhance the sports car look. And yes, it's really hard to resist this little car in a head-on view with that brightly restored chrome grille and headlights that seem to be smiling at you.
The British have a fine way of building compact sports cars, and they excel at interiors with no-nonsense personalities that make even diminutive cars like this seem serious. Twin buckets offer fresh seat covers with tidy pleats, and once you're settled (even if you're tall) you'll be surprised how easy it is to get comfortable behind the wheel. And speaking of the wheel, it's a gorgeous wooden piece that looks racy in the minimalist cockpit. Handsome Smiths gauges are the embodiment of the English sports car industry, and simple knobs and a toggle switch on the dash are the extent of the controls. No radio, no heater, just enough to deliver a ton of fun on four wheels. There's not even a top, although a matching black tonneau is provided to seal up the interior when you have to step away from the car or park it overnight.
The engine is an over-achieving 948 cc inline-four that makes a whopping 43 horsepower. But don't write it off, because the whole car weighs a fraction of today's sports cars and there's genuine joy to be found in driving a vintage sports car at speed, and horsepower isn't even in the equation. It's neatly detailed with Austin Green paint on the block, twin SU carburetors, and lots of authentic details like the hose clamps and hardware. It starts easily with a blat from the single tailpipe and while it won't rev to 8000 RPM, it's a pleasure to row the gears of the 4-speed manual and listen to the engine's song. The suspension and brakes were also restored, filling out an undercarriage that's just about show ready. Relatively fat 175/70/13 radials on the original steel wheels provide surprising agility.
Documented with restoration receipts and photos, this Sprite is traditional British fun that's enjoyable for reasons beyond its playful good looks. Call today!
- Leather Seats
- Manual Convertible Top
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