Storage Find: 1959 Austin Healey Sprite

Grinning at you through the rain is a 1959 Austin Healey Sprite project car, hoping you’ll rescue it from its storage unit exile of the last 35 years! The long-time owner has listed it for sale here on eBay, where bidding has only reached $1,700 so far and there’s no reserve! Although the car is in Merrimack, New Hampshire, it’s not as rusty as you might think and looks like a potential bargain in the container.

There’s what I would call “typical” Sprite rust around the lower areas of the car. I’m pretty sure I see body filler showing through in at least one of the pictures, so bear in mind someone’s been there before. We’re told the car was originally Leaf Green. Sprites are fairly simple unibodies, but there are a few spots, notably the rear 1/4-elliptic spring attachment points, that are difficult to rectify if rusted. The seller states the spring boxes “seem solid”, although rust in the floors and inner rockers are noted.

Two unusual things about this picture: 1) there’s some weird wrinkling and surface rust where the rear deck (think where a trunk lid would be on a normal car) has been damaged. I’ve seen this kind of damage before on a Sprite from a taller vehicle running over it from behind and I’m guessing that’s what happened to this car — then it was crudely hammered back out. 2) What about the other Sprite in the background? Is there a possibility of a package deal?

Just from looking here, I’m wondering about the condition of the lower fender lips and lower door edges. It’s hard to tell exactly how dry this container storage has been.

The floor looks surprisingly solid here, and you can also get an idea of what the Leaf Green paint should be. I believe that’s the bottom of the seat frame looking like curved angle iron.

Sprites came with a 948 cc version of the venerable A-Series four-cylinder engine and twin SU carburetors. Everything looks pretty normal under here. This engine is easily rebuilt if necessary although it’s much easier to get to everything if you remove the bonnet (hood). That spigot in the center of the picture is original equipment and allows hot water to flow through the heater matrix.

I think I’d remove the fake wood that’s been added to the dash, although I might keep the additional gauges. What about you? And while we’re usually about originality, I wouldn’t complain if someone added a smaller, three-spoke period steering wheel, either. But that’s me–what would you do with this cheerful little British sports car?

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Spigot didn’t make it… it’s for turning on the hot water for the heater. We use that area to funnel water through the rear of the head back to the radiator on the race cars to get even water temp across the head. Car’s dirty and there is rust by the rear spring mounts but being where it is isn’t a strength related problem. Don’t see damage in the rear to indicate damage but someone or a bunch of little someones were probably piled on top of it at one time. The chassis we’re building our vintage race car out of was used in a high school play of Grease, where a whole pile of kids ride across the stage on a convertible. Took a full week to get it straight. Haven’t tackled the hood yet.

    Like 3
  2. Raymond

    Dodge neons grandfather….HI!….

    Like 1
  3. Steve Clinton

    Looks like the poor girl needs a dermatologist.

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