Austin Healey 1960 Frogeye Sprite


Intended as a spiritual successor to inexpensive pre-war sports cars such as the MG M-type or Austin 7 Nippy, the Austin-Healey Sprite was launched in May 1958. Fruit of the growing partnership between Donald Healey and Austin's Leonard Lord, its design costs were kept to minimum through some inspired BMC parts bin raiding. Built around a lightweight monocoque, it combined the Austin A35's independent front suspension, four-speed gearbox and quarter elliptic leaf-sprung back axle with the Morris Minor's rack and pinion steering. Powered by a twin-carburettor fed 948cc A-series four-cylinder engine developing some 43bhp and 52lbft of torque, it was capable of over 80mph. Credit for the Frogeye's wonderful styling lies with both Gerry Coker and Les Ireland. Put on sale for just £669 including purchase tax, the Sprite actually undercut its Morris Minor De Luxe sibling. Rarely before or since has a sports car enjoyed such a large fun-to-price ratio.

H&H are indebted to the vendor for the following description: "This car was owned by Mr C. Swift of Newcastle from new until his death last year. It is an unrestored, well cared for and well driven example. The Austin-Healey has had a few non-standard but period items added during its driving life and comes with two boxes of documentation including the original bill of sale / warranty, original registration document, tax discs, old MOTs and Healey Owners' Club cards etc, etc - way too much to list. An aftermarket steering wheel is fitted but the factory one has been retained, while the original rubber mats are still in the car. A last wish of the owner was that his sheepskin driving coat be sold with `222 KVK'. In short, this car is a one man history of `Frogeye' Sprite motoring. With regard to its overall condition, the Austin-Healey has never been renovated and thus carries a patina which is consistent with being well looked after but used for forty-odd of its fifty years. The car was removed from Mr Swift's garage in late 2009 and is being offered for sale on behalf of his widow. Since retrieval I have replaced the brake master cylinder, changed the oil and filter and put a new battery on `222 KVK' as part of a general service. The `Frogeye' now runs and drives albeit there is some noise from its clutch release bearing. However, I would recommend that the car receives more recommissioning work before any extensive road use is attempted".

Image and description kindly supplied by H&H Classic Auctions

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