Frogeye Find: 1960 Austin-Healey Sprite

Back in 1958, the Austin-Healey Sprite was rolled out as a small, low-budget, British-made roadster. It earned the nickname “frogeye” in the UK for its headlights positioned on top of the hood, inboard of the front wings. In the U.S., it was more commonly called the “bugeye.” This 1960 edition has likely spent a lot of years in the barn, but no longer has any drivetrain. Located in Napa, California, the little car is available here on Facebook Marketplace for $3,500 (does that include a bottle of Napa Valley wine?).

British Motor Corp. put together the Sprite using as many parts as they could from other products. For example, the 948cc engine that was good for 43 hp was a tuned version borrowed from the Austin-A series. The Sprite would become the first volume-production sports car to use unit construction (aka unibody), so the car’s sheet metal body panels (excluding the hood) would take many of the structural stresses. The entire front sheet-metal assortment – hood and wings – was a one-piece unit that hinged from the back. It swung up to allow the mechanic access to the engine, but it could also be removed in its entirety if more serious work were needed. These little cars were popular in export markets, especially the U.S., where a good many of the nearly 50,000 Sprites found their way here.

This poor Sprite is said to only have 10,000 miles on it. If that’s correct, then it’s spent an awfully long time trapped in the dark where it resides. The body is painted yellow (with traces of blue underneath), and the interior is black in color. It has a roll bar behind the seats, which gives it a dune buggy kind of look. There is some rust which may be mostly in the passenger compartment. Sadly, the small car’s motor and 4-speed manual transmission have parted company with the automobile. So, this Sprite is strictly a roller at the moment. The title has likely been lost over the years, so the buyer will have to settle for a bill of sale.

Depending how you look at it, these Austin-Healy’s weren’t fast off the line, but could eventually reach more than 80 mph (0 to 60 would take you 20 seconds). But there were great on gas, even if it was only 25 cents a gallon back then. If you took the time and money to bring this car back to show condition, it might top $30,000, according to Hagerty. But would it better serve as a donor for another “Spritely” project?

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    With the firewall and the forward part of the tunnel gone there isn’t much left of this car to restore. Neither part is available aftermarket so you need another doner car to save this one. Someone had plans to build a hot rod, probably related to the guy who had one on BF a couple weeks ago. If it’s rust free it’s worth $1,000 max to someone who needs the sheet metal or $2,000 max to the guy who has the firewall and tunnel to put back in it. No heavy brain matter behind this one…. Too much money for too little.

    Like 13
    • Neil

      Take a look at the steering column to steering rack connection.
      That takes a special kind of talent !

      Like 1
  2. Miguelito Loveless

    Seems like a good candidate for an electric vehicle.

    Like 5
  3. Mike

    Same car featured back last January. Same asking price.

    https://barnfinds.com/barn-find-bugeye-1960-austin-healey-sprite/

    Like 7
  4. Gerard Frederick

    As a lover of this model, I think it should mercifully be crushed. How can anyone allow a little gem like that to deteriorate like this.? The roll bar indicates the little Bugeye was massively abused by a wanna-be racer. Pitiful.

    Like 4
    • Lynn Eddins

      Please somebody buy and go ecar.
      Please.

      Like 1
  5. Larry D

    No, this price doesn’t include a bottle of Napa Valley wine but it probably includes a NAPA Auto Parts fan belt!

    Like 2
  6. John

    Good news/bad news. Every single part needed to bring it back to 10/10ths is available. The bad news is that it will take one of every single part to bring it back. A great project for someone who wants to spend a year or so in the garage. I rebuilt the body of mine back in the last century with a Wards Power-craft welder and sheet metal that I cut from multiple For Falcon door shins and hoods. I had never welded before. Many tasks had to be done twice. Most tasks had to be done more than twice. The motor and transmission are dead simple and small enough to put simply set on a workbench for assembly. The right buyer will be rewarded with a really fun little toy car. But it will not be on the road quickly (pun intended).

  7. bobhess bobhess Member

    John… If you have a source for the missing pieces in this car car me and hundreds of other folks would love to know it. Neither British Heritage or Moss have the parts including anything for the front bonnet. No new, just used in this case.

  8. bobhess bobhess Member

    Gerard…Roll bar in these car weren’t a bad idea in the day. They got to looking like a great idea after I flipped my ’62 Midget on a dark road one night. We were lucky enough to slide gently into the biggest patch of poison ivy I’ve ever seen. Except for the windshield, steering wheel and hard top very little damage to the car. Had seat belts but the poison ivy got to my passenger and he wound up in the hospital for the rest of the night.

    Like 2

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