Original Survivor: 1960 Austin Healey Sprite

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It must make some people groan when they hear any car called cute, but, well, this bug-eyed face really is cartoon cute. The headlights on the prototype rotated up. Since the Bugeye was built to be cheap, the headlights on the production cars ended up being fixed, resulting in the frog-faced appearance. This Sprite is in Lawrence, Kansas and listed on eBay and is a real survivor. It’s had a much nicer life than the horror story Jeff wrote about recently (perhaps the lake should have been named “Lake Towaway”). In 1983, after covering only about 44,000 miles, its owner put it away for a long nap. The owner’s niece and current owner have added about 500 miles since it was awakened. The seller has the complete service logs to verify the mileage. The pictures show only surface rust. Bidding is almost up to $11,000 and the reserve has been met. That may seem like a lot of money for a frog-eye but checking eBay sold listings, there are nice examples that have sold for $10,000 to $14,000. Let’s see what eBay shoppers think of this one! They have about 3 days left to cast their vote.

Here’s a familiar sight, a well worn English interior. It looks ready to strap in and hang on. Those serious seat belts and fire bottle mount might indicate some competitive driving has occurred in its past.

Those are far from the most comfortable or supportive seats, but what would you expect from a carnival ride on wheels? Step right up folks! You almost expect someone to be taking tickets as you crawl in!

There’s a little 43 horsepower engine in there somewhere among the wires, belts, and hoses. It’s the little engine that could mostly because it’s only got 1,400 pounds to propel. It all appears complete, original and untouched under the bonnet. Hopefully, the engine is not stuck.

A peek underneath is encouraging. It’s a belief among many astute folks that even exposure to air will cause these little cars to begin to fade away into piles of rust.

It’s a bit faded and the edges are worn, but this Sprite does look solid and looks ready to drive and enjoy. There are no doubt other areas likely to rust that are not pictured, but from what we can see, there’s nothing rusted through. There are likely demons of the Dark Lord Lucas hiding in the electrical system that will need attention. It will need a wiper arm and wiper blades. After resolving any mechanical issues, I would enjoy this Sprite as it is and restore it over time. If you live in a dry climate, you won’t need to rush to sand and prime surface rust. And it will fit in any garage!

Auctions Ending Soon

Comments

  1. On and On On and OnMember

    Bought one in San Diego for $600 in 1969. Tijuana interior, 40mpg. Engine wouldn’t die. Drove it at 65mph all the time. My first and last English car.

    Like 0
    • Jerry Brentnell

      a lot of years ago a customer dragged one of these into our garage, motor seized due to running it with a broken fan belt! he said fix it so i found a 394 olds engine and automatic trans and stuffed in it we narrowed up a olds rear end so the thing bone stock! was it fast? hell yes!

      Like 0
  2. john

    On eBay the owner indicates that this auto is running as indicated perhaps by the additional mileage beyond the written records…

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  3. DolphinMember

    David,

    I never groaned when my ’58 bugeye was called ‘cute’. That’s because the people who called it cute were all girls at my school who wanted a ride in it, as in

    “What a cute car! Can I have a ride?”

    Like 1
  4. Paul Steele

    Does the clock work!!

    Like 0
    • Bruce Best

      That clock should be on your wrist for there never was a clock on one of these cars, Think BASIC, BASIC with some added BASIC.

      Like 0
  5. 86 Vette Convertible

    Went to Vo-Tech with a guy that had one back in 67-68, fun little car to ride in.
    Actually was pretty peppy for an engine that size.

    Like 0
  6. HoA Rube GoldbergMember

    How could anybody be upset driving a car with a front end like that? Big smile, everybody happy. As opposed to, say, a ’49 Buick front end. :(
    Quite frankly, I’d be a bit nervous driving this along side some ultimate behemoth pick up truck belching diesel fumes in your side window, but for little countyside jaunts, be a blast.

    Like 0
  7. Madmatt

    “By demons be driven”…Dark lord lucas wiring…!
    hahahahahaha! I Love it,…hahahaha!
    These are really neat cars,and if I owned one
    I would buy a new Painless wire kit…for sure!….,
    I would also move to jolly ol’ England to be near parts,
    as these cars and parts must be hard to get here?
    looks to be a Very nice example,I would love to take
    a much “worse” one and resto rod it,small v6?
    also recess headlights/tailights
    into fenders with contoured covers?,with smooth hood.
    these cars have serious curves,
    that make my mind wander..?LOL

    Like 0
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie PalmerStaff

      Actually, MadMatt, I think parts are just as easy if not easier to get over here, given Moss Motors and other specialists.

      Like 0
  8. Madmatt

    My mind is still wandering…..to the dark lord lucas side!LOL

    Like 0
  9. sunbeamdon

    On October 6, 1961 my twin and I finished rebuilding my ’58 Bugeye to full Sebring Stage 5 including close ratio transmission and ported and polished head. Why do I remember the date? ‘Cause after an 80 mi test drive I parked it at the reception hall for use the next day to ferry my bride and me on our honeymoon. On I5 from YVR to PDX she needed a ‘brolly to keep out of the rain coming in under the leading edge of the top. Ruined her bee-hive hairdo, but not the marriage! Somehow she it stuck-out (survived) Sprites, Alpines, Tigers, XR1, hi po family haulers, CSX2005, 5S034, Kirkham Cobra,some of which I still have. AND, we are still friends!

    Like 0
  10. sunbeamdon

    Should have been ZR1

    Like 0
  11. Bill

    Why do the Brits drink warm beer?
    Lucas makes refrigerators.
    Kidding aside, neat car, neater color.

    Like 0
    • Tony, Oz-tralia.

      Bill, when the outside temperature rarely gets above 65 degrees, even in Summer, they reckon they don’t need cold beer.

      Like 0
  12. Dpeter1946

    Scariest thing I ever saw on a trip to the UK was a friend in the TR club with a clear Lucite block, with a (shudder) Lucas Cardiac Pacemaker embedded in it.

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  13. Peter k

    Lucas affectionately known as the Prince of his Darkness

    Like 0
  14. Gary D.

    Lucas gets a bad rap. In fact, I have a Lucas laptop. It works perfe@^$(*ly. No probl

    Like 0
  15. John

    Why worry about the electrics? This car can be rewired front to back in an afternoon. I did it. And while you’re about it, bring it up to 12V negative ground and add an alternator. Once that’s done, the only dodgy part is the wiper motor. Wheels, brakes, suspension parts, motors and transmissions, radiators, and a whole host of other little things are all common to the entire range of Sprites and Midgets up to about 1973.

    Of course if you’re a purist, parts to make it original are available from lotsa places. These are wonderful little cars. I wish I could be in the bidding (I was, but its over my head now). There are only a few issues. The front suspension was originally designed to be used on a covered wagon so the bushings need to be replaced every once in awhile or you cannot turn the steering wheel. The second issue is that they need to have the valves touched up every 50K miles (some say 43k). But you can learn to do that in your spare time with about three wrenches. Stay on top of those things, avoid the tinworm, and don’t force the gear lever into 1st unless your stopped, and these little cars will have you grinning from ear to ear for another 50 years.

    Like 0
    • Tony, Oz-tralia.

      I always reckoned the Brits should have used springs under their cars instead of house bricks ’cause that’s what it feels like you’re riding on in these things.

      Like 0
  16. Will Owen

    Saw my first one just up the road from this, in Bartlesville OK. Car was being offloaded from the transporter at the dealer’s; baby blue … with whitewalls! Beyond cute! And I was told it could be all mine for just $1800. But here I was, a just-out-of-Basic Airman 3rd Class, the radar site maybe three miles west from there my first assignment, pulling down a big fat $85 or so per month.

    Never did get one, though I had two Minis and (briefly) a Mk II Sprite that came cheap because the previous owner had brick-walled it just before it was repossessed – I think $400. It was drivable in daylight …

    Like 0
  17. Alan

    If you ever owned a Healy, you would know what the fire extinguisher is for.
    Seat belts?

    Like 0
    • Tony, Oz-tralia.

      Yes Alan, to ‘belt’ the starter motor with when the damn drive gear jams and won’t engage with the flywheel.

      Like 0
  18. Tom

    And…If you want to know why Englishmen drink warm beer, it’s because they own Lucas refrigerators. (Yeah – oldie…).

    Like 0
  19. Bill Wilkman

    It’s amazing to find a Sprite that hasn’t been seriously rearranged and abused. The only aspects of this car that are clearly not original are the extra gauges and the carpeting on the transmission housing and foot wells. The buyer of this car could easily do a factory correct restoration, or just leave it as is and enjoy it as a rare survivor.

    Like 0
  20. Dave

    Day after high school graduation in June 64, Dad finally gave into my having a car. What I really wanted was a Triumph TR-3 but no, Dad thought that was “too powerful” so my 1st car ended up being a ’59 Sprite. I hated it, under-powered, could never keep those SU carbs in tune, handled ok but the brakes wern’t much good in the rain. I soldiered on with it for four years…and finally bought a ’63 Pontiac Tempest sport coupe with a ‘326 & four-speed tranny. Precursor to the GTO, I wish I’d hung onto it.

    Like 0
  21. philthyphil

    even has the tach drive on the back of the ‘dynamo”

    Like 0
  22. Little_Cars AlexanderMember

    “It’s a belief among many astute folks that even exposure to air will cause these little cars to begin to fade away into piles of rust.” Thinnest part of these converts is the flat floor, boot floor. Windshield design got the tin worm working at the bottom of the A pillar but only after 15-20 years, guys! I’ve been hanging with sports car folks since the mid 60’s and never heard this about the cars themselves, the UK weather yes, could have it’s way. I’ve only heard the “exposure to air” joke in regards to Japanese cars and the Chevy Vega.

    x2 Tony, seatbelts “to ‘belt’ the starter motor with when the damn drive gear jams and won’t engage with the flywheel.” Been doing that with my 1965 Midget for about a year now while I fiddle with the starter. A ball peen hammer works well too.

    Like 0

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