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Low Mile Bugeye: 1960 Austin-Healey Sprite

When Austin-Healey introduced the Sprite back in 1958, the moniker of Bugeye was not in any way official terminology related to the roadster.  But not long after these cars made their debut, that’s what enthusiasts affectionately started calling them, or if you were in the U.K. perhaps you heard Frogeye.  Not surprisingly, the car earned the nickname due to its unusual headlight placement, which was unintentional based on the initial design, but more on that in a moment.  If you’ve been in the market for a nicely preserved vintage sports car, this 1960 Austin-Healey Sprite here on Craigslist may be worthy of your consideration.  This one’s located in Shady Dale, Georgia, and comes with an asking price of $17,000.

We’d like to thank reader T.J. for the fine tip here!  The first Sprite cars were known as the Mark I, but by the time the Mark II variant came out the body had been revamped and those unusual headlights were no more.  Personally, I kind of like how the front end of the early model looks like it’s smiling at me as I’m admiring it, but there’s an interesting story that goes along with that.  It seems the original plan was for those headlights to be retractable, and face skyward when not in use.  However, that was not to be, as Austin-Healey had set out to make one of the world’s most affordable sports cars, and as a cost-cutting measure that idea was axed, so the lights ended up staring forward whether they were in use or not.

The seller says his car has been under the same ownership for the past 40 years, and condition-wise claims it needs nothing except for a new driver.  Inside and out, the car appears like a decent example, with both an interior and body that seem A-OK for a driver.  There’s no word on whether or not that’s the original finish, and no mention if the interior has ever had a makeover, but with only 45,000 being the claimed mileage maybe most or at least some of what we’re seeing is original.

The Bugeye came with a 948cc 4-cylinder engine and a 4-Speed, with the above being the only photo we are provided of the powerplant.  We do get a couple of shots from the undercarriage, which appears fairly solid, plus there’s one more interesting fact you can share with your friends on Saturdays at Cars And Coffee.  You can tell your friends that Jay Leno owns one of these, and speaks highly of it!  Nearly 50,000 Sprites were produced, so while these cars are not exceedingly rare, they are quirky in a lovable sort of way.  This one may not exactly be a bargain, but for the condition, it seems reasonably priced, and I’m guessing it’ll find a new home fairly quickly.  What do you think?


  1. Avatar photo RayT

    Looks like a pretty solid example, and if the seller is honest in his pledge to fix any issues the buyer finds before delivery, it would be well worth checking out.

    Makes me wish I had managed to keep my own $75.00 Frogeye. That one had poor paint, Bondo, no top or sidescreens and a worn interior, but it was a fun runabout and, despite the lack of absolute speed, was a real sports car. Anyone who derides these needs to drive one; if they have any soul at all, they’ll be delighted.

    Better still, they are reliable, easy to work on and parts are pretty readily available.

    Like 8
  2. Avatar photo alphasud Member

    This is probably the happiest sports car ever made. One look at that face will bring a smile to your face. I remember driving to the annual Carlisle Import Fest and coming up on a convoy of Bugeye Sprites back in the 90’s. It’s not until you see a line of them driving that you realize just how small they are relative to modern traffic. I miss going to Carlisle. Those were fun times.

    Like 8
  3. Avatar photo Denny N. Member

    alphasud is right about the tiny size. I’d advise anyone contemplating a Bugeye to make sure they can fit in it.

    Anyway – it’s nice to see a Bugeye that still has the front bumper intact.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo James

      They aren’t anywhere near as small inside as they look. Plenty of leg room and all the headroom in the world.

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Anthony M.

        Troof! 6-1 and I have no problems fitting my ’66 Midget with nearly full (long) leg extension.

        Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Big C

    These were $4500 cars all day long, 15 years ago.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo David Member

      Sorry about the mis-click! (One can’t undo it!) $4500 seemed like a lot for a Bugeye even back then, but inflation makes it about eight grand now and that would be a great price but folks are asking for $18,000 and more these days.

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo James

        Not in this condition. I sold mine similar condition 21 years ago for $10K. But rougher ones are still cheap for the most part.

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo bobhess Member

        They sold new for $1,500. ’62 square body sold for $1,800.

        Like 1
  5. Avatar photo James

    Suspect this won’t last the afternoon.

    Like 0
  6. Avatar photo BimmerDude Member

    When I arrived in CA 50 years ago our local friends gave me (!) a bugeye that was running but the rest was in baskets, boxes, etc. I had not tools, garage, or time so put it up for sale after helping the engine run better. My buyer came up from San Jose with a trailer that was built specifically for this chassis, told me he already had 3 and was deep into SCCA competition, so at least it got a good home.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo bobhess Member

      Have owned 4, all of which were SCCA H Production race cars. Still got 2, one of which is being built as a Vintage car while the other has been on the track since 1974. Lots of fun and the girls all think they are cute.

      Like 4
  7. Avatar photo PairsNPaint

    $17k seems like a bargain compared to some of these: https://www.bugeyeguys.com/category/bugeyes-for-sale/.

    Beautiful full restos and thoughtful mods, tho. I’d love a Bugeye with a Weber carbed 1275, Cooper S cam, and a 5-speed.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Tonywa28

      My bugeye exactly…. Plus 4 wheel discs, poly bushings, panhard bar, front anti sway bar, cross flow radiator, cam, ported, polished, header, ARP fasteners, aluminum flywheel, single leaf rear springs, and a lot of other small mods. Pretty reliable and dead simple. I’ve owned it since 1974 when I bought it as a roller for $165 as a high school senior. It’s like one of my children at those point. Always a blast to drive… Such a happy car.

      Like 3
  8. Avatar photo RichardinMaine

    Decades ago friend in my freshman dorm had one with the then-common 1200 cc transplant from some other BMC product. Exhilarating driving experience, akin to a motorized shoebox, and slightly more sturdy. You were dwarfed by most everything then and can’t imagine it’s like in today’s ocean of SUV’s.

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo A Day

    Does well with a Judson blower also

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Karl

    Looks like the interior has been “freshened”.
    Frogeyes came with rubber floor coverings, not carpet.

    Like 1

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