Backroad Bugeye: 1960 Austin-Healey Sprite

1960 Bugeye Sprite Top

There is nothing like an Austin-Healey Sprite. Well, you could just pickup a Miata, but it would never have as much character as one of these little bugeyes. Most of the Sprites currently on the market are either too rusted out to make sense or too restored to be affordable. With a few sensible upgrades and no visible rust, this 1960 Austin-Healey Sprite just makes sense if you are looking for a car you can drive. Find it here on craigslist in Atlanta for $7,250.

1960 Bugeye Sprite Rear

It’s not perfect. There are lots of chips in the paint and two small areas of body filler, but the floors and other body panels are claimed to be the originals. The photos of the underside and wheel wells show a sound body. There is some sunlight showing through those floor boards so do realize that you may need to replace them down the road. Remember that this car is 52 years old.

1960 Bugeye Sprite Interior

Inside the seats have been recovered and an aftermarket steering wheel has been fitted. The dash still houses the original gauges and radio. The car also comes with what appear to be the original side curtains and top. We also spotted a roll bar and a set of alloy rims in the seller’s flickr account.

1960 Bugeye Sprite Engine

The stock 948 cc engine is long gone and has been replaced by a later 1275 cc unit. The extra displacement gives the car a significant boost in power and if we were in the market for a driver Sprite, this upgrade would actually be on the top of your list. The brakes are said to work fine, but that would be our next area to address down the road.

1960 Bugeye Sprite Extras

This car came from the factory in Iris Blue, but sadly someone decided to change it to red many years ago. If you can ignore the blue firewall, you should be fine, but we would want to return it to the original color eventually because it is one of the most attractive hues for these little guys. Have some fun while sorting a few things as time and funds allow.

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Comments

  1. Ron

    I’ll bet that the clunk is NOT a CV joint.

  2. J. Pickett

    Back in college had a 65 Midget, the 1093 engine, I can’t even fit in one today, but I loved that car. Commuting in it in Chicago traffic, 35 mpg. even in those days it was cheep to drive, I spent about $3.00 a week on gas. But on long trips it was only fun on back roads. Cruising interstate at 75 was tiring. A ball to drive, I sure recognize that BMC 1st gear siren. Perfected my double clutch on that one. But unfortunately had to sell after one year as the first owner’s abuse began to show. I have a Spitfire today, I can still just fit in that. Those little cars were great.

  3. Jim

    It looks like that driver’s side floorboard is on its last leg.

  4. bmwwxman

    Wrong radiator and the wiring harness is a nightmare. Looks like a bowl of spaghetti. What’s with the alternator? – this car originally came with a Lucas generator. Negative Earth? Would have been Positive earth coming from the factory. The Alternator probably explains why everything was changed from positive to negative earth. I wonder what other parts of the electrics are messed up. As to the floorboards… That is the well known Fred Flintstone modification….

  5. Rik

    CV joint? Unless someone snuck an IRS under this little toy, I don’t think you’ll find one…

  6. Bryan Cohn

    Its got a driveshaft full of u-joints and those can clunk, so they called it the wrong thing, big deal. Always loved Bugeye’s, first racecar I ever drove in 1981 was an HP Bugeye. If I had room, funds and time I’d have one.

  7. Bear

    Not a bad BugEye……but not great either.Some visible rust, so I’d look CAREFULLY for what other rust might be hiding. (These cars can be rust prone… Look carefully at the rear spring mounts for rust issues, as well as all of the body/structural seams. Rockers & floors are very rust prone. Also check the bottoms of the A-pillars and around the lower door hinges. & check the inside lower panels of the rear fenders.)Wiring (as already noted) is a rat’s nest!! (…so plan on rewiring. Always a good idea anyway on any British car of this age.)I’d look closely at the panel behind the seat where the roll bar was attached, looks like some welds near the pass side have been compromised. (I’d check the floors for roll bar damage also!)Not sure, but looks like the seats are from the wrong year.Steering wheel is not stock.Seems crazy that it has a 1275, but not the associated rib-cased transmission. (Ad states stock trans, which would be a smooth case trans. The later model ribbed-case trams is the better choice.)Clunk could be a U-joint, but might also be slop in the trans or the rear end.Rear end pumpkins are fairly cheap & easy to swap.Transmissions are relatively cheap, but more difficult to install (requires that you pull the engine).Looks like master cylinder has been replaced. Find out if wheel cylinders have been replaced also. …and clutch slave.Check to see if the lever shocks are leaking (a common problem). If they are buy a set of LIFETIME replacements from Peter at Worl Wide Auto Parts http://www.nosimport.com. (Peter KNOWS these shocks!! & can help w other parts also.)Moss Motors & Victoria British are a couple of other suppliers.www.mossmotors.comwww.victoriabritish.comIt would be nice if the later series front disc brakes had been installed. (…a very popular safety & performance improvement!)$7250 is a bit high for a Bugeye that needs this much.I’ve seen nicer Bugeyes sell for about this price.I’d do a DETAILED INSPECTION before buying.A near perfect BugEye can sell for approx $16K. But I’ve seen many very nice drivers (needing little or no work) sell for $7K to $10K.IF nothing more is hidden it might be worth closer to $4K or $5K. (In my humble opinion…) Less if problems are discovered.-Bear-(BTW: I currently own 7 Spridgets. Including 3 Bugeyes.)Go to http://www.britishcarforum.com/ for more help and info on these cars!

  8. bmwwxman

    Good synopsis, Bear. In the past 5 years I’ve helped do complete rebuilds on several of these cars and I own a square body myself. You’ve hit all the high points. I agree the asking price is a bit high. Yahoo has two email lists that might help in addition to the British car forum. Midgetsprite is one and the other is Bugeye. There is also http://www.Sprite-MidgetClub.org

  9. J. Pickett

    Fellows this is a heck of a lot of criticism for a 50 year old driver. It’s not being presented as a show car. Of course you would check for rust, the wiring, there simply isn’t enough of it to worry. It’s not a Rolls, it’s the cheapest sports car they could produce. If the price is too high find another one, they are getting rare. Picky, Picky.

    • Mikey C

      This is a 50+ year old car not a SHOW car.One to drive and enjoy.Yes bear you did an excellent job touching on all the trouble spots.I had butchered mine by putting a Buick V-6 in it,a3 speed transmission.To this day it was one of the funnest cars I had drove.I had had a68 Corvette roadster,a 75 Datsun 280z which was the first year for the 280Z.Sure they were all fun to drive yet the little Healey still bring back the happiest moments. I actually still have happy dreams of my Healey. So I say drive it and enjoy it!!!

  10. Bear

    I wasn’t trying to be critical……just pointing out the typical items to check on these cars prior to negotiating a sale price.A BugEye “newbie” wouldn’t have the prior experience (aka: “mistakes done on earlier purchases”) to know what to look for.These are the items that I would check if I were looking at this car….My price opinion was based on what I can see in the listing, + some assumptions, as compared to other BugEyes I’ve seen available in recent years.But it is just my opinion.I’ve seen people pay less for more, but I’ve also seen people pay more for less.As they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!”…Yes, these are relatively inexpensive cars.& a whole lotta fun for relatively little cost.If the body is solid, and engine/trans works well, the rest is fairly cheap & easy to fix.Parts are easy to obtain, either via vendors, or via used parts sources (eBay, etc.)….I’m sure this little BugEye will find a good home. :-)

  11. Okiedude

    Oil cooler is not stock either. The one spare wheel has some type of race tire on it. Wonder what the past life of this car has been. Maybe some auto-x? As mentioned above, if the tinworn is not bad it a good place to start from for something south of the asking price.

  12. bmwwxman

    The racing tire might explain the clunk in either the U-joints or the diff….

  13. Okiedude

    LOL!

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