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Storage Unit Find: 1959 Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite

Perhaps the best feature of a compact sports car like the classic Bugeye Sprite is that it can be shoved into the far corner of a storage unit until there’s time allocated to work on it. That seems to have been the seller’s strategy of this seemingly track-prepared 1959 Austin Healey that will come with a ton of spares and a patina that’s just killer. You have to love the white stripes on the blue body, almost certainly done in period as a homage of sorts to the all-dominating Shelby Cobras. The seller admits he’s not going to have time to revive this Bugeye, so the car and all the parts are listed here on craigslist for $7,000.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader T.J. for the find. The Sprite looks very solid pulled out into the daylight, and you have to love the stance this thing has. It just screams “racecar” and the period mag wheels and roll bar certainly add to that effect. The best thing about the Bugeye (aside from its perpetual smiling face) is that they look perfect as a vintage British roadster riding on steel wheels and hubcaps, or as a purpose-built track car designed to attack the cones on an autocross course or track day with the local vintage racing crowd. It’s still a relative bargain in the marketplace, too, at least compared to other vintage two-seaters like the Tiger and TR4.

The seats look like they’re out of an NA-chassis Mazda Miata, which would make for a very sensible upgrade over the original buckets that likely offered zero lateral support. The seller mentions a long list of spare parts that will come with the Sprite, including a convertible top frame; extra transmissions; exhaust manifolds; valve covers; clutches and flywheels; radiator; stock SU carburetors; books and manuals; and much more. There are no details about the condition of the bodywork, but given this Sprite is located in Glendale, Arizona, the odds are good it hasn’t seen much in the way of snow and road salt.

The description seems to indicate the 1275 engine that’s currently installed needs a rebuild, but that the car will come with a freshly-rebuilt engine and even a stand to store it on. When you see a listing like this where the seller is literally giving away the kitchen sink along with the car, it’s a pretty clear indication they want to move on with their project car life because this one has failed to capture his interest long-term. The generous list of spare parts and what looks like a very fun car that was built in the day to be a bit of a giant-killer all provides some level of assurance you’ll make out OK even if the car is needier than expected (they almost always are, too!)


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Good car, but if the buyer is much over 6’5″ the padded seats won’t work. They are great autocross cars with upgraded springs and shocks. Our primary autocross car ran all stock suspension except for 500 lb front springs and heavy oil in the shocks. Good price, good project.

    Like 7
    • Rufus

      @Bob Hess – where is the car in the photo? I think I recognize that roll cage and front fender flare combo.
      From Texas by way of Colorado?

      Like 0
      • bobhess bobhess Member

        We built it in Florida in ’99 and sent it to Georgia in 2018. One of the best overall race cars we’ve ever built. Simple but fast. Roll cage was old school but SCCA legal. Wife autocrossed it and insisted she wanted a car that she could get into without pulling every muscle she owned.

        Like 1
  2. Frank D

    I have always liked these cars. Fun to drive and easy to work on. Great write-up Jeff!

    Like 0
  3. Lawrence Smith

    It looks like the engine needs pulling & rebuilding ,no plugs in the holes open valve cover, whatelse is wrong ???

    Like 1
  4. david howlett Member

    Gone :( or ;)

    Like 0
  5. Jim Schultz

    Ad has been pulled! This would make a great project.

    Like 0
  6. montagna_lunga

    Drove a Bugeye as my daily from ’75 to ’81, and I am 6’3″. Of course, 40+ years ago I was 170 pounds and in my 20’s!

    I would still LOVE to pounce on this how much fun that project would be!

    Like 0
  7. BlisterEm Member

    Bagged it. Looks like fun.

    Like 0

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