Simulated Sebring: 1959 Austin-Healey Sprite

The Austin Healey Sprite set a record for sports car affordability in the U.S. when it went on sale in 1958 for less than $1,900. It was both simple and advanced at the same time – simple in its small size and no-frills approach to comfort and interior appointments, and advanced because it was the first mass-produced unit-bodied sports car. Find this original, unrestored Bugeye with less than 30K miles here on Hemmings in Medway, Massachusetts for $18,000 or best offer.

The Sprite was truly an entry-level sports car. It featured rubber mats on the floor and flexible plastic side curtains that attached onto the doors with screwed clamps instead of roll-down windows. When you wanted to open the “windows” you stopped the car, undid the clamps, and stowed the side curtains in a pouch behind the seats. To reduce costs and increase the structural integrity of the tiny unit body, there was no outside trunk lid.

There is not a lot of information about this Sprite. It is described as being in excellent original, unrestored condition, and currently registered for road use. The photos show a car that, although not original in many respects, does appear to be in excellent condition, with no visible rust. Among the many components that are not original are the wheels, seats, steering wheel, valve cover, carb setup, and the oil cooler. The car is missing the front bumper, but does include a fiberglass hardtop and the original seats and SU twin carb setup.

The car is described as having some Sebring modifications. We can see wire wheels and an oil cooler next to the radiator with a large Weber carb in place of the original twin SU carb setup. However, the official Sebring modifications included larger twin SU carbs, so strictly speaking this car is not really done to Sebring spec. Also, there is no mention of disc brakes.

Although it is not cheap, this Sprite looks to be sound and free from rust. We would love to know if the “modifications” were done by Speedwell in the UK or if a previous owner just bolted on a few extras. This would greatly affect the value of the car for us. If you would rather have the real deal you could always go for this one, but it will cost you.

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Comments

  1. Russell

    Well, I like it 😉

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  2. TGM

    Not a bad car. Looks solid and the hardtop is a plus. It has a number of non-original parts however, like the steering wheel, wire wheels, seat uphostery style, weber carb, etc. The heater is missing also.

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  3. Dan

    What Russell said.

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  4. TGM

    Per the articles mention of it missing the front bumper: The front bumper was an option on these, so it’s possible it never had one.

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  5. Foxxy

    nice car

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  6. scot c

    ~ my 13Ds don’t allow heel-toe room for spirited driving, but more to the point, when i look at this i have difficulty thinking, ‘$18,000’. nice, just not that nice.

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  7. TVC15

    Whoever is thinking about buying this car I say BUY IT NOW !!!!!!

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  8. Martyn

    Not very original, not very “Sebring”, looks pretty. but $18,000 is a bit steep. I do like the fit and finish. Nice car, owner clearly liked to tinker, but its just a modified Spirte at the end of the day and if you are going to modify 1275, disc brakes, 5-speed are the options that make the car more drivable, and therefore hold its value. As an original car, $18 is not out of order, as it sits – I would let it sit.

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  9. Don

    Just came across this listing while looking around on the email. I purchased this car from the original owner about fifteen years ago. I can fill you in on the details of this car which was modified by the owner to duplicate all Sebring specs including many Speedwell components.
    If you care to know more, send me an email and I will contact you by phone.

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  10. Michael Rogers

    COOL! pull all those correct period accessories off and I’ll swop you for the originals.

    YES, back then we DID tune–modify our sports cars for better performance and looks! look in a 50-60’s Sports car Illustrated mag and you’ll see that these were commonly offered!

    I often said that there was no such thing as a stock sport car at least here on the left coast.

    We routinely removed the front bumper in that it wouldn’t protect the bugeye from someone mother backing her Buick into a parking space ahead of us any way!

    That sprite is what we wished we could afford back when minimum wage was around a buck!

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