Italy Meets Great Britain: 1965 Innocenti S Spyder

080216 Barn Finds - 1965 Innocenti S Spyder - 1

This exotic, little Italian-designed beauty is a 1965 Innocenti S Spyder and it’s in Ames, Iowa. It’s listed on eBay with an unmet opening bid of $6,000 and there are about six days left to get your shipper lined up.

080216 Barn Finds - 1965 Innocenti S Spyder - 3

This car is basically one of my favorite British cars of all time, an Austin-Healey Sprite, with a fancy, Italian suit of clothes draped over it. Although, parts of that suit are a little threadbare, like the convertible top. As much as I absolutely love the look of the Sprite, I think that I like this design even more, maybe just because it’s so unique.

080216 Barn Finds - 1965 Innocenti S Spyder - 2

The Innocenti Spyder S was styled by the famous Italian design house of Ghia and they were more luxurious than the standard Austin-Healey Sprite was. The Innocenti S came with roll-up windows, a locking trunk (boot), a heater, and a glove box. The beautiful body on this car looks like it’s in good, straight condition with a few little areas that will need work but it doesn’t appear to be a rust-bomb as one might expect to find. There will be welding to do, but boy what a gorgeous car it’ll be once you’re done restoring it.

080216 Barn Finds - 1965 Innocenti S Spyder - 4

The interior of this particular car will need work, as you can see. Speaking of rust-bomb, one went off on the floors, so you will have to tackle replacement floor pans maybe before doing anything else. You’ll want to totally strip the interior anyway so once everything is out you can do the floors and start your search for replacement seat covers, and any interior bits that are missing or cracked. I’m guessing that the steering wheel may need to be restored, most folks don’t put a cover on a perfect steering wheel.

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This engine is a 1,275 cc model according to the seller, but I can’t find too much information about that one, just the 1,098 cc engine. Maybe our resident British vehicle expert, Jamie, will know more about the engine timelines for these cars. These would have been BMC engines as the mechanicals were taken almost directly out of the Sprite. The seller says that the “engine runs with the wiring for the ignition switch shorted as unfortunately I was not given the key for the ignition switch”, so there’s that.. But, for such a great looking car, you’ll most likely want to totally restore everything anyway. Or, that’s what I would do. Do any of you think this car is worth restoring, or would you buy an already-restored Austin-Healey Sprite and just get on with the business of having fun instead of restoring a half-British-half-Italian Innocenti?

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    I’ve always liked these li’l puppies, Scotty, and in my ideal world would have both an Innocenti and a Frogeye Sprite. Got to drive one once, years ago, and didn’t sense much that was different from the then-current Spridgets except looking at Veglia gauges instead of Smiths dials.

    But almost all I’ve seen had some rust issues that were beyond a bubble or two on the fenders, and this one appears to be no different. Did you notice the passenger-side floorpan?

    I’d say the seller is being more than optimistic if he wants $6K for this. The next owner is going to be looking at a major teardown and a lot of fabrication/welding. These are great fun but not THAT fun.

    • Scotty Staff

      I like your thinking on getting both cars, RayT!

      You’re way up on me, I’ve never driven or even sat in a couple of my wish list cars, an A-H Sprite or an MG Midget. At 6′-5″ tall, I keep hearing that I’d better try one first before bidding on one..

  2. David Church

    I looked at one of these at the dealer in Vicenza, Italy, in 1969. Nice car, but too close to the 2nd gen Spriget for me. The 1962 Sprite I had already owned was, and still is the winner in my design department. After the stunning VW Karmann body to the Ghia design came out in the mid 50s, Ghia has evolved into a design firm that is usually hired to turn a sow’s ear into another sow’s ear, at minimal cost to the manufacturer. “MUSTANG II Ghia Edition anyone?” This “Sprite” for the Innocenti BMC brand is at the beginning of this evolution. When I want an Italian Sports Car, at the very least I want a dual overhead cam engine on the base model. And I don’t want it to look like a 60s Peugeot Sedan with the top chopped off. This is the car I did buy at the BMC dealership . A 1967 Morris Mini Cooper “S”, 1275 drive in the Alpine Rally, This is the day I took delivery.

  3. Spridget

    You’re right, Scotty- from the factory, I believe that would have had a 1098cc. Regular Spridgets swapped over to 1275cc in 1966 with the introduction of the MKIII Midget and the MKIV Sprite. However, engine swaps are common and this could be a 1275cc.

  4. neil t

    Yes i have one of these pretty little cars, they made a 950 cc engine car, and then the last batch were the 1100S as they were known, they only built about 2000 of the later cars. I take mine to a bunch of car shows and people really love the car and they are rare as rocking horse pooh in the USA. Trim parts are tough to come by, but finding mechanical parts is just a matter scanning a Moss Motors catalogue.

    • Dolphin Member

      We don’t see enough cars belonging to people who populate BF, especially at shows like this one in the sunshine. Thanks for posting a photo of your car.

  5. PeteL

    This car is quite complete which is valuable in it’s own right although I think this is a bit on the high side as listed. Yes I am speaking from experience as I hunt for a good front grill as an owner of the 1100S version. Rust aside, floors are Sprite replacements for instance, the completeness will be a serious time and money saver. If you redo the instruments, the silk screens are out there. And I have a guy who redid the 22 plus interior upholstered bits. It is not cheap but the Tom Tjaarda shape is timeless to me and others. I fell for the siren’s call, 3 of these to make most of one that is getting close to complete with a few missing bits. There is a small worldwide community to source parts and discuss restoration…be careful there are some who will rip off the new Innocenti enthusiast. If you are skilled, the Nissan 5 speed conversion works mated to the 1275 (or slightly larger even) and then you have a real driver. This one deserves a chance to ride again. Hope someone jumps in. @neil t, mine is red as well, pretty car there!

  6. Justin Schmidt

    It seems like this seller had at least three of the Innocenti Spyders featured on Barn Finds. I’d love to know how he comes across these cars, because I’ve always thought of them as being quite rare. Maybe there was an importer near his location in Ames, Iowa?

  7. Chris A.

    They are pretty, but remind me of the FIAT 1100/1500 of that time period. Makes you wonder what Malcolm Sayer from Jaguar could have accomplished with a Sprite/Midget platform.

  8. Mark

    How do i get a hold of PeteL?

    I would like to talk to you about Innocenti cars

    Cheers

    Mark

    • PeteL

      Hey Mark, Hit me up at pete at p-sport. com

      Pete

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