Parked in ’83: 1960 Austin-Healey Sprite

Sometimes life can get in the way of the best-laid plans, which has been the case with this 1960 Austin-Healey Sprite. A previous owner discovered a minor mechanical fault back in 1983, and he never quite got around to addressing it. The current owner has realized that history is repeating itself, so he has decided to sell the car to someone who can return it to the road once again. Located in Alpharetta, Georgia, you will find the Sprite listed for sale here on eBay. Intense bidding has pushed the price along to $8,100. The reserve is met, so a new home isn’t far away for this little classic.

The Primrose Yellow that the Healey currently wears isn’t original. It started its life wearing Iris Blue but received an amateur repaint approximately 40-years-ago. The paint still presents well from a distance, but the owner says that a close inspection reveals some flaws and imperfections. It still holds a good shine and is presentable as it currently stands. There are some cracks and bubbles, but what this Sprite is short of is rust issues. There is surface corrosion present in a few spots, but there are no signs of any penetrating rust. The underside looks structurally sound, with a dusting of surface corrosion for the buyer to tackle. The trim and chrome seem to be in good order, and there are no issues with the windshield. The side curtains are present but will need to be restored. The top offers a similar story. It is presentable, and I think that it would respond well to some careful cleaning. The plastic windows are heavily “yellowed” and will probably need to be replaced at some point.

The story with the Healey’s interior is very similar to the exterior. It isn’t perfect, but it is definitely presentable. The carpet is new, although the owner admits that it will need to be fitted properly. The covers on the seats have been replaced in the past, but they are showing some edge-wear. I believe that this could be addressed without the need to replace them again. I’d consult a reputable upholsterer on that point. The dash is tidy, and apart from some additional gauges mounted below, it is untouched. I think that getting the interior looking great again would be an easy task and would take more time than money to achieve.

The 948cc 4-cylinder engine that is fitted to the Sprite is believed to be original. This should be producing 43hp, which finds its way to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. That power figure could best be described as modest, but with the car tipping the scales at a mere 1,433lbs, there isn’t a lot of weight to move. In its prime, the journey down the ¼ mile would take 21.5 seconds. Give the car enough space, and it can find its way to 83mph. Okay, it’s not fast, but it would still be an enjoyable little thing for a bit of relaxed weekend cruising. The Healey has been parked since 1983, but the owner did manage to get the engine running by filling the float bowl with fuel. He says that it sounds great but that it will need a few issues addressing. The exhaust has some holes, and it should be replaced sooner rather than later. The fuel system will need to be cleaned, and it sounds like the fuel pump may have turned up its toes. The owner includes a new electric pump if the buyer wants to go that way. The clutch isn’t functioning, but this appears to be a hydraulic issue. However, a new clutch master cylinder is being included in the sale.

Now we get to the crux of why this classic was parked in the first place. Back in 1983, the previous owner noticed a puddle of brake fluid near one wheel. It turned out to be a faulty wheel cylinder, which was beyond repair. He removed it, but that’s as far as it got. The current owner has accumulated all of the parts required to return the brakes to good health, and he is including those parts with the car. There is a new master cylinder, new wheel cylinders, new drums, new shoes, and all new rubber lines. Getting the Sprite stopping on a dime should be an easy task for the new owner to tackle.

This 1960 Austin-Heale Sprite offers a world of possibilities to its new owner. Getting it back to a roadworthy state would seem to be a straightforward proposition, and it presents well enough to be used regularly for weekend cruising. The buyer could choose to address the surface corrosion and treat the car to a repaint, and even that path would not be a difficult one. The more ambitious owner might choose to strip the vehicle down to the last nut and bolt and perform a meticulous restoration. The bidding to date suggests that this British classic has captured a few hearts. Regardless of which path the buyer chooses to follow, this Sprite will almost certainly put a smile on their face every time they slip behind the wheel. That can never be a bad thing.

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    Okay, Adam, this Frogeye has captured MY heart! I had to do more work on my own Frog, which was well-used by the time it came to me.

    The Primrose paint suits, more perhaps than the light blue, which never really grabbed me on these cars. All I can think of is the BMC adverts featuring an Iris Blue MGB with whitewalls. Whitewalls on a sports car? No! Or, for that matter, Baby Blue. Different tastes, and all that….

    The 948 engine delivered enough power for fun, and those BMC “A” Series engines will deliver more without much change. I know the one in my car probably didn’t make the full 48, but it sure made the car seem, well, Spritely!

    Mine cost a whole $75.00 in 1970. This one is still in the “sensible” range for me, especially with the spares, but I can’t see it right now, alas.

    Like 3
    • Jef Fowler

      75 bucks? Thought the 99 quid I paid around the same time in the UK was a steal. Especially as it had the no brakes and aluminum floor option…

      Like 1
      • RayT Member

        Mine didn’t run. Before walking away, I snooped under the hood, then bought the car, roped it to my dad’s Scout, we drove a block, stopped, and connected a loose coil wire. I then drove it home….

        Like 4
  2. JohnfromSC

    I had a couple of 68 Spridgets, one which I restored. These 1st gen Bugeyes are gaining in value. They rust under the A pillar and the rockers. So the best thing about this one is that if the paint is truly as old as claimed, you don’t need to be that concerned about what is underneath because the old tin worm would have already reemerged if it were still underneath. Very fixable example.

    Like 1
  3. Lawrence (Larry) smith

    These are not fast cars as we know, but they are fun to drive especially on twisted country roads ,I had one in England back in the 60’s& also had a 67 version later ,love them .If i didnt have a Lancia im restoring i would be interested.

    • RayT Member

      I’ve always loved cars you could essentially drive flat-out without attracting too much official attention. On a country road, my Sprite was one of those.

  4. Luki

    Cute little Bugger.
    Not that they would protect much but some bumpers would be nice.

    Like 1
  5. Spanky

    Just like anything left sitting untouched for 40 yrs it’s going to need work on every system . Only someone who has never got one back on the road and sorted it thinks it’s easy or quick.

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