Pan Am Racer: 1961 Innocenti Spyder

1961 Innocenti Spyder

The simple fact that this car is an Innocenti make it special, but this one has also lived an exciting life. International travels and racing exploits litter its past. It was originally sold in France and the owner took it with them when they went to Mexico to work as a translator during the 1968 Olympics. After that, they sold it to some Texas boys who ended up racing it in at least a few events. The dash plaques are still in place to prove it! They must have run it hard too because the engine was apparently swapped out for a Datsun unit in 1973. They did hold onto it until 2003 though. These were basically rebodied Austin-Healey Sprites, so mechanical replacement parts will not be an issue, but any missing Innocenti-specific parts might be hard to find. I do like the idea of an Italian styled roadster with British mechanicals and the history here makes this project even more intriguing. Find it here on eBay out of Ames, Iowa.


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  1. Dave at OldSchool

    NEVER a race car ………. it takes a lot more than dash plaques to be evidence of race history….and the car has NO other evidence of competition…….
    Flag men, safety workers, ticket collectors, etc, etc.. ALL got dash plaques at most old events …

  2. Dolphin Member

    I had the same thought as Dave. I used to get dash plaques for some pretty low-level events back in the day. But that’s just ‘stories’ from this seller. What’s important is the here and now. There is at least one web photo of a similar car in the same exact location, so this seller might be specializing in these and have more (better) available from time to time.

    These are scarcer than regular Sprites but I don’t think that makes very much difference except maybe to someone who has to have the Italian Ghia-designed body version. These are ‘different’ but not that different from regular Sprites. The SCM price guide doesn’t list this version, and with the Datsun engine I think the value will be less than if it were original, so I don’t see this being worth the trouble. I would rather go with one of the many decent Sprites that are out there, likely for less money and in better condition.

  3. Dutch 1960

    This one is out of Ames, Iowa, and so was the grey one with red Rostyle wheels linked below.

  4. Patrick McC.

    The Datsun engine and trans swap (even though not a 5 speed) could be considered a nice upgrade in many cases.

  5. RickyM

    Pretty little Midget ! Hope this gets restored.

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