No Reserve: 1965 Austin-Healey Sprite

If there is one aspect of traditional British sports cars that is prone to criticism, it is the fact that they don’t tend to be the most relaxed of open-road cruisers. This 1965 Austin-Healey Sprite has received some mechanical upgrades, and these should successfully address this issue while still retaining the vehicle’s traditional charm and character. It is a neat and tidy car that should allow its next owner to make the most of the warmer weather with some top-down cruising. The Healey is located in Sylmar, California, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the Sprite has reached $9,700, and making this an even more attractive proposition is the fact that it is being offered for sale in a No Reserve auction.

The Sprite is finished in Austin British Racing Green, and it generally presents very well. The paint has an impressive level of depth and shine, with no signs of any significant flaws or issues. The owner provides some limited photos of the vehicle’s underside, and it looks to be spotlessly clean and free from any rust problems. The trim and chrome appear to be in excellent condition, while the same is true of the glass. The aftermarket Minilite-style alloy wheels are a tasteful addition and suit the character of the Sprite very well. There is a top included in the sale, but the owner provides no photos of it. If the condition of the rest of the vehicle’s exterior offers any sort of guide, then I would expect it to be in good order. Even if it isn’t, it isn’t the end of the world. Replacement tops are readily available, with prices ranging between $320 and $620, depending on the choice of material.

The Sprite has come in for a significant mechanical refurbishment in the recent past, and all of this should make it a more pleasant vehicle to live with on a daily basis. The suspension has been rebuilt with all new bushes and tube shocks. The 1,098cc 4-cylinder engine now has a spin-on oil filter, and the original carburetors have been replaced with a single SU unit. This should make keeping the vehicle “in tune” less complicated and means that there will be an opportunity for more time cruising, and less time undertaking enforced tinkering. The most significant change with the Sprite revolves around the transmission. The standard 4-speed does provide relatively short gearing, and while this can make the Sprite a bit of a blast on twisting roads, it does mean that they can sound busy and breathless at freeway speeds. That should be a distant memory with this Sprite because hooked to the back of the engine is a Ford T9 5-speed manual transmission. This was fitted using a kit sourced through renowned specialists, Moss Motors, and should address the problem very well. It is also a step that wouldn’t have been taken lightly because, at $3,995, this is by no means a cheap upgrade. If you then add rebuilt brakes, new fuel lines, and a new pump, along with a new radiator into the equation, it would seem that the next owner is going to be faced with no real challenges mechanically with this British classic. The owner describes the Sprite as being fun to drive, which is a claim that I find quite easy to believe.

The one aspect that the owner identifies as needing work is the interior of the Sprite. It is quite presentable and serviceable, but I can see things from his perspective when he says that it would benefit from some restoration work. There is nothing horrendously wrong, but there are many minor faults that, when combined, mean that the interior does look a bit tired. The upholstery on the passenger seat is stretched, the door trims are damaged, and the dash exhibits some minor wear and tear. The owner states that he had intended to spend $750 to restore the interior, but decided not to since he was placing the car on the market. I understand his thinking on this point because he probably wouldn’t recoup this sort of outlay in the vehicle’s sale. If I were considering buying the Sprite, I would be obtaining the details of where the current owner was sourcing the interior components at the quoted $750. To me, that would seem to be a very competitive sort of a price, and I would be very inclined to follow-up on that.

I have a soft spot for classic British sports cars, and I tend to prefer to see them unmodified. The exception that I generally make is for those cars that are destined to be used for track days, as sometimes, mechanical upgrades make a great deal of sense. However, I have to say that I do like this 1965 Sprite and am very comfortable with the enhancements that have been performed. Tweaking and tuning a classic car is all well and good, but getting out on the road should be the main focus of the exercise with vehicles like this. The mechanical upgrades should help to make this a reality, and with the interior restored, this would be a vehicle that the next owner could drive with a real sense of pride.

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Comments

  1. Tom c

    Nice car, I would be proud to own it.

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  2. Howard A Member

    I had a friend right out of HS that had this exact car. “Sprigets” are fun, simple little cars. Another friend had a newer Midget, we had a lot of fun. It’s why I eventually bought my MGB. This one is a great find. Didn’t see too many Sprites, Midgets mostly, but they were around. I’d venture to say, the most bang for your British roadster buck, although, Spitfire owners may disagree. Biggest difference, Sprigets have live rear axles, better motors( I feel) just a simpler car. While I don’t like the single carb, this motor needs dual carbs to sing, one of the downfalls of a Spitfire. I never had a problem with dual SU’s,,3 maybe. And no synchro 1st, that’s a pain, and no O/D available. These really holler at speed, but for puttin’ down a country lane, you simply can’t go wrong. Also, they are small, and many just may not see you. Here’s a newer one, you can see how intimidating it can be. Great find, and BRG to boot!
    https://www.mgexp.com/forum/mg-midget-forum.3/parking-space-just-the-right-size.2290216/

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  3. Dan D

    Nice car that is green, just not British Racing Green, which is much darker. Probably Brooklands Green, the same as my ’76 MGB.

    1
  4. Col K T

    I had a 68 Midget and after the third transmission and a fuel pump that left me stranded in Havana Illinois, I had a little accident while doing doughnuts in December on a Sunday in a school parking lot. We hit a fire hydrant and all the MG did was chip the paint on the hydrant. My buddy and I finished off our beers, pulled the fender away from the front wheel and left.

    I parted the car out. The 1275 motor was valuable, the working trans was snapped up and the seats were in good shape. I got more than what I paid for the car and the transmissions.

    MG had a selection of throw out bearings so you could put transmissions from
    a bunch of production years in them. It was cheaper to buy wrecked MGs or Spites just for the trans than buying a trans. The transmissions blew, because there were no synchros into first and first and reverse ran off the same gear.
    Americans think all cars should downshift into first. So first went and took reverse along for the ride.

    I enlisted in the USAF after that in 1973. During that time I acquired a 1970 Challenger R/T 440 convert and life was good.

  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    This car is a great example of why you should buy a full up, already restored or well maintained running car. If the cost of this one doesn’t go stupid it will be a great buy. If you want a project here is a number for you. We are building a ’60 Sprite race car from a rust free chassis and we expect to have over $25K in it before done.

    1
  6. Sandy Jordan

    My first car was a 65 Sprite! Those seats don’t look original. I think they are from a later Midget. 65 Sprite seats were thinner and had a rounded top of the seat back.

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