BF Auction: 1960 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite

Sold for $10,100View Result

UPDATE – Photos of the spare parts have been added to the listing. Not mentioned in the listing, but included with the car is an exhaust header, oil cooler kit, set of vintage air cleaners, the original steering wheel, and what appears to be an original radiator. Also, I forgot to mention that the front brakes have been upgraded to disks.

One of the best parts of working here at Barn Finds is getting to learn about and experience a wide variety of classic cars. For the past year and a half, I’ve been enjoying the 1960 Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite that I purchased here in Boise. It’s been a blast, but I’m ready to move this one along so I can try something new. While it isn’t a perfect car, it’s a nice driver with a lot of upgrades. I’ve decided to offer it here as a no-reserve Barn Finds Auction, so be sure to cast your high bid below and if you have questions about the car, let me know in the comments section.

We’ve had a ton of British Sports cars here at BF HQ over the years and the Sprite continues to be one of our favorites. The Sprite’s simplicity and go-kart-like handling make them an absolute blast to drive. They aren’t particularly quick or have the highest top speed, but with the right upgrades, they can comfortably keep up with modern traffic. I’ve daily driven mine regularly and have never felt like I’m in the way or can’t keep up with traffic, but that’s partly because this car has all the popular upgrades.

Under the bonnet, you’ll find a nicely sorted 1275 cc inline-4. The Bugeye originally shipped with a 948 cc engine, but later Sprites and Midgets came with larger versions of the A-Series engine. That means it’s easy to swap a big bore engine into an early car. I don’t know much about what work was done to this car’s engine but given how peppy it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was fully rebuilt and upgraded a bit before being installed. Oil pressure is healthy throughout the RPM range. Just looking it over, you’ll notice that it’s equipped with upgrades like a 123Ignition, electric cooling fan, a spin-on oil filter, an alternator, and trumpets on the beautiful SU carbs. The engine fires up easily and runs out nicely as is. There are a few small oil leaks, but nothing unusual or concerning. The transmission isn’t a 5-speed, which is also a popular upgrade, but it is a rib cage 4-speed. The rib cage gearbox is much stronger than the original and shifts beautifully.

Continuing with the upgrades, the owner that restored it also upgraded the suspension. The biggest change was to switch the rear lever shocks for telescopic gas shocks. While they do improve handling, they also make the car ride a bit rougher than the stock shocks. It also received a front sway bar, which is actually a nice upgrade and makes it all that much more agile. It’s riding on a set of 13-inch MWS Minilite style wheels and 155r80 tires.

The interior is in decent shape. It’s not luxurious by any means, but these cars weren’t ever fancy. The seat upholstery is in usable condition, the dash is complete, and the floor is covered with newer carpets and mats. One of the downsides of upgrading from a generator to an alternator is the loss of the mechanical tachometer, so the original tach was swapped out with an electronic unit, which works well. There are a lot of spare parts included with the car, including a box with some gauges, so the original tach may still be present. Speaking of the gauges, the fuel gauge is the only one that doesn’t work. I’ve tested the gauge itself and it seems to work, so the issue is either the wiring or the fuel sender (it’s most likely the fuel float). I never had time to drop the tank, so I just watched the odometer and filled it up every 200 miles. Based on the receipts and paperwork that came with the car, it appears to have been restored sometime around 2013 by a prior owner. The owner I purchased it from mainly just drove the car and did service work. They did install a modern stereo, which was nice, but I removed it since most of the time the top is off and you can’t really hear it anyways. I’ve kept the head unit and speakers, so if you want to put the radio back in, you can do that.

The biggest flaw with this Sprite is the cosmetics. The paint has some orange peel, which could probably be sanded and polished out. There’s also some waviness to the panels that makes me think there’s some Bondo present. The worst of the issues seem to be with the bonnet, which has clearly been repaired at some point. Given how these were built, it’s not uncommon for the bonnet to have been repaired or to have some alignment issues. If I were going to keep the car longer, I’d order both wings for the bonnet from AHSpares, and have them replaced. While not cheap, it would greatly improve the looks of this car. The current bonnet works just fine though and is passable for a driver-quality car. When I purchased it, it came with a front flip hood kit, which I installed, as the engine bay is rather difficult to access with the original rear hinges. The original hinge parts are still with the car so you can put it back to stock if so desired.

One last thing to note, during the restoration, the headlights were upgraded to more modern lights. While it’s a nice upgrade, there was quite a lot of splicing done to get them installed. It works, but I’m not a huge fan of having spliced wires, so the next owner might want to order a new wiring harness and switch back to the original style lights. Again, it works, but it’s something I felt should be pointed out. I spent the better part of two days cleaning up the wiring, replacing bad connectors, and retaping any loose wires, so it looks presentable and hopefully keeps water out. I also recently installed a new gear reduction starter, which works great.

Overall, this Sprite is a decent little sports car. It isn’t perfect by any means, but it drives great and gets lots of attention anywhere it goes. With it is the tonneau cover, the convertible top bow, a nice set of side screens, an old convertible top (it’s usable but has some damaged seams), and several boxes worth of included parts. I’d keep it if space and funds permitted, but I’m ready to try something new. Hopefully, it will go to a good home with someone who will drive and enjoy it just as much as I have. If that person is you, be sure to bid! And if you have any questions or need any additional photos, please let me know and I’ll do my best to get you what you need.

  • Location: Boise, Idaho
  • Mileage: 16,058 Shown, TMU
  • Engine: 1275cc Inline-4
  • Transmission: 4-Speed Manual
  • VIN: AN5L33261
  • Title Status: Clean

Bid On This Auction

Sold for: $10,100
Register To Bid
Ended: Aug 17, 2023 11:02am MDT
Winner: Dabugeyeguy
  • Avatar photo
    Dabugeyeguy
    bid $10,100.00  2023-08-17 10:58:10
  • Avatar photo
    johnbroknowsnothing bid $10,000.00  2023-08-17 09:13:15
  • Avatar photo
    JR49 bid $9,000.00  2023-08-16 12:58:13
  • Avatar photo
    robj
    bid $8,500.00  2023-08-16 12:41:14
  • Avatar photo
    JR49 bid $8,000.00  2023-08-15 10:53:13
  • Avatar photo
    Samwalls88 bid $7,500.00  2023-08-10 16:13:09
  • Avatar photo
    Jack
    bid $5,000.00  2023-08-10 09:17:01
  • Avatar photo
    wheels 4 U bid $4,500.00  2023-08-10 09:03:45
  • Avatar photo
    Cody bid $4,000.00  2023-08-10 04:43:26
  • Avatar photo
    gary
    bid $200.00  2023-08-09 11:29:18

Comments

  1. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    The phantom seller strikes again! Raised rear and rough ride tells me the shocks are too long. If you want a great ride that can be turned into an autocross car get the adjustable Triumph TR3 rear shocks, identical to the rear Sprite except for the adjusting capability. How about a trade for an SCCA H Production race car? Nice car here.

    Like 5
  2. Avatar photo Joshua Mortensen Staff

    Hi Bob, this is my personal car. Since I didn’t do the suspension conversion, I’m not sure what shocks were used. I’ve heard the Spax shocks that are sold in some of the conversion kits are a good option, as are the adjustable TR3 units. The ride isn’t awful, but there’s definitely a difference compared to Jesse’s Bugeye. Since they work, I decided to just drive it and enjoy as is.

    That’s a tempting offer, it looks like a sweet machine, but I’m thinking of getting something a little bigger.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo bobhess Member

      They are small but as you say, they are fun to drive. Our new ’62 Midget had 14,000 miles on it after less than two years. The Midget tachs were all generator driven in the early cars. Our blue race car was built in the early ’70s and as it’s got a full electronic ignition no distributor is in place. A V drive is in it’s place running the tach. BTW, Our car is not good in the rain.

      Like 1
  3. Avatar photo macvaugh

    Joshua, my first car was one of these, and I recall the tach was driven from the distributor. Nothing to do with an alternator.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Joshua Mortensen Staff

      The tach is run off of the generator. Since this one has an alternator, you don’t have anywhere to hook the cable for the tach, so you have to switch to an electronic tach that reads the pulse off the distributor.

      The photo above is of a stock Bugeye generator, it’s currently installed in our Lotus 7 that’s powered by a Sprite engine. The threaded port coming out the back is where you hook the tachometer cable to.

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo LEWIS E PULLEN Member

        You can purchase an alternator with a mechanical tach drive, or you can purchase a “super” tach from BugeyeGuy. Either way beats the old generator/tach drive.

        Like 1
    • Avatar photo Stephen Campaigne Member

      I had several “Spridgets” and all I remember was the tachometer drive was from the rear of the generator.

      Like 1
  4. Avatar photo trdave

    I use an electric tach from a later car. The tach was given me from a friend out of his parts box. The face is identical to the mechanical BE tach so looks great. The tach might have originally come from a late MGA.
    I recommend lookers seriously consider your BE. This is the time to buy.

    Like 0
  5. Avatar photo Dennis

    It’s a great little car. Love the smiley face front. Unfortunately at my age ( and size) getting in and out of it would be very difficult.

    Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Cobraboy

    I had a Bugeye in college. At a skinny 6’2″, I could barely fit in it, but where there was a will, there was a way.

    I’m no longer skinny. I suspect, even with will, there is no way to fit in one, and if I could, maybe no way out.

    Love them! Love, love, love. Glorious sabot with wheels!

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo Paul Comer

    Very nice example. My first car was a 58 I bought as a Jr. in high school. I drove it to Fla. from Ohio right after graduation. My first road trip. Sold it while in Vietnam. I have a ff5 cobra now and it reminds me of the Sprite in many ways. Good luck to your new owner. They will enjoy it!!

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo Mr C.

    Overall it looks good compared to most of the junk cars presented here. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t go for at least $15K. There’s a small market but once the word gets out it will zoom upwards in price. Good luck

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo Richard Martin

    Nice car and excellent write-up. You haven’t mentioned whether or not anything has been done to the brakes. Almost everyone swaps out the front drums for disks and I am guessing this has happened to this one as well.
    A really lousy part of these was the tacho drive on the rear of the generator so your replacement with an electronic unit (presumably from a later model) can only be a good thing. The speedo has also been replaced – also a good thing.
    Another lousy feature of the original was the dreadful steering wheel and thankfully this has also been upgraded.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Joshua Mortensen Staff

      Hi Richard, sorry I forgot to mention that the front brakes have been upgraded to disks. The master cylinder was leaking when I got the car, so I replaced that and bleed the entire system, so the brakes work great.

      Like 2
  10. Avatar photo JohnBroKnowsNothing

    Hi, among the upgrades, have the front brakes been upgraded to discs or are they still drums?

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Joshua Mortensen Staff

      It has been upgraded to disc brakes in the front.

      Like 0
  11. Avatar photo robj Member

    Also, unless I missed it, I’m assuming a clear title in your name?

    Thanks.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo robj Member

      Forget my last question, just saw the “Clear Title” note…

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo Joshua Mortensen Staff

        The title is in my name and is clean.

        Like 1
  12. Avatar photo robj Member

    You mentioned bondo. Any indication of bondo in the rockers or wheel openings or is it in the body indicating just slightly less than stellar dent repair.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Joshua Mortensen Staff

      So the bonnet definitely has bondo around both wheel openings, I’m sure on the rear openings. The edges of A pillars facing the front edges of the doors also look thick in spots, which I assume is bondo. As for why it’s there, I’m not sure it it was to fix a dent or to cover rust repair.

      Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Joshua Mortensen Staff

    I found a few more parts that will go with it.

    Like 0
  14. Avatar photo Joshua Mortensen Staff

    There’s an oil pan and a pair of either new or restored seat pans (they are very nice).

    Like 0

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