Rare Kellison Bonnet: 1962 Austin-Healey Sprite

Austin-Healey Sprites are not the most uncommon car to find nestled in a barn, but the accompanying nose treatment known as a Kellison bonnet gives this example some extra desirability. Effectively a more streamlined snout with the headlights re-located to what some would consider a more conventional location, this Sprite with the Kellison nose is a cheap project with some extra exclusivity baked in. Find it here on Hemmings for $2,950. 

While we may consider the “bugeye” look endearing, that wasn’t the way some enthusiasts felt when the Sprit was first introduced. To solve what was considered a grievous design oversight, the Kellison Fiberglass Company sold a custom nose panel for both the Sprite and the MG Midget for just under $200, and they’re a rare find today. This panel not only enhanced the Sprite’s looks, but also had to make it considerably more streamlined.

The Sprite featured here looks like a fairly tidy car, although it has been repainted from its very pretty original shade of primrose yellow to the current orange color. The body looks sound but I’d want to expose that original color if it were mine, while keeping the unique Kellison bonnet and OEM steel wheels. The seller notes that rust is minimal, which is surprising to find on a British roadster of this vintage that has been barn stored.

The interior looks quite tidy, though it’s surprising to see how extensive the repaint went to include the inside of the door panels. The seller notes that if you prefer the original nose panel, one will be provided, but I would absolutely go for the Kellison front end if considering this Sprite as a project. The rarity and improved looks are hard to ignore, and you can always sell it for a good price if it’s not your thing. Which front end would you prefer on the Sprite?

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  1. bobhess Member

    The two or three aftermarket hood suppliers designed these units for the Bugeye. To me the lines don’t go with the square body cars. That’s a ’62 car… exact same chassis as the Bugeye with the new square body style to compliment the new MGB.

  2. Bob S

    I modified the nose on my Sprite to eliminate the grill, and although I didn’t have the chance to move the lights before I sold the car, my buddy did. It looked great.
    They were a fun car. Cheap to buy, inexpensive to run, and easy to fix. My buddy and myself could pull the engine in less than 45 minutes, using hand tools, a 2×4, and a rope, to lift the engine out. With hard driving, this had to be done because the throwout bushing was a cabon puck, and with the competition clutch I was running, the extra pressure was very hard on this bushing. I had my engine hopped up to 1300cc, shaved flywheel, cam, headers. The extra horsepower broke a lot of parts, but I used to make the TRs, big Healeys, and MGs, cry when I smoked them.
    Real great memories.

    • Little Cars

      Cabon puck? Capon Duck? (Yum) or carbon puck?

  3. Beatnik Bedouin

    This could be a fun project for someone. Having had a good look at the Hemmings ad, I suggest that there will be a fair amount of rust repairs to be dealt with, but patch panels, etc. are available for the monocoque.

    I’d be more interested in the Fiat 1500 Cabrio that’s sitting in front of the Sprite in one of the images…

  4. Bob in Bexley Member

    I loved my Bugeyes. Right behind the seats you’d store the spare, top & bows (in a bag) & right over the rear axle hump was a perfect spot for a cooler full of beers next to cigarettes & a great bag full of weed. 35-40 mph top speed & people thought you were crazy & had smiles bigger than yours on their faces.

  5. Crawdad

    my first car was a ’65 midget that my older brother had wrecked. I was 16 and bought the Kellison front end for cool factor and much cheaper than even used stock parts , hard to come by in Eastern KY. Put a large racing stripe up the center with some new fangled ( in 1969 ) stuff called ” self adhesive vinyl shelf paper” you had to be real close to see the random bubbles embossed in it. I agree the front didn’t really match the rear end , but nobody around had anything remotely like it .

  6. ROTAG999

    I have been to this Guys shop he has been around for years he get’s some pretty rare car’s and motorcycles and sometimes he has a decent price on his stuff and has many project’s some pretty close to be done and other basket cases with lots of work left.

  7. Alan

    That’s a MkII Sprite, and the headlights were always in “a more conventional location”. The frog-eye/bug-eye Sprite was the previous version.

    And I do like it (talk about accessibility to the engine)!

  8. JagManBill

    looks like a Speedwell nose…

  9. David Prowse

    Improved looks? Uh, no. I put a 283 Chevy in my Bugeye back in the late 70’s and improved the go, but the tiny drum brakes didn’t do much for the Whoa!

  10. bobk

    I always liked Spridgets (I have a weakness for smaller, economical sports cars) right up to the moment when I tried to fold myself into one. The owner, a friend, was laughing so hard that he almost couldn’t lift me back out. It’s kind of like when I get behind the wheel of my girlfriend’s car without remembering to move the drivers seat waaay back. She’s “petite”.

    • Bob S

      That happened to me. My girlfriend at the time left the seat full forward, and I got jammed between the seat and the steering wheel. It was a traumatic enough experience that I never forgot it. It is a good thing that there were no digital cameras back then.

  11. Little Cars

    I’m a huge Spridget fan, but I can’t figure out what is behind the trailered Sprite in the outdoor photo. Looks like a VW Bug but with a square roof added? By the way, the inside doors would be body color in these years, no big deal, they are the same metal as the body.

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