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						Healey Sprite Racer7

Vintage Bugeye Sprite Track Car

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Craigslist

I know what you’re thinking; you’re saying Dean, I’d love to get into vintage racing, but I’d like to have something stylish, and somewhat affordable. And so with absolutely zero applicable experience on the topic, I present to you with this gorgeous ’59 Austin-Healey Sprite. Sure it needs a little work, but the seller is asking just $10,000 for this fantastic vintage racer. And let me tell you, there isn’t a Spec Miata, Formula V or Formula Ford that’ll make you look more badass than this stellar little Sprite.

When you start talking about small English sports cars of the period, the Austin-Healey Sprite is obviously the most adorable of the bunch, mainly for its diminutive size and joyful little grin. The Mark I Sprite was introduced in 1958, and quickly came to be known as the Frogeye, or Bugeye Sprite. The car was designed by the Donald Healey Motor Company and manufactured by MG using the Austin A-Series four-cylinder. When upgraded with twin 1-1/8 inch SU carburetors in the Sprite, the 948 cc engine developed 43 hp and easily propelled the 1,460 pound car to grin-educing back road speeds. Flat out, the Sprite would do over 80 mph, but cresting 60 mph could take over 20 seconds alone. Nearly 49,000 Mark I Sprites were built before the Mark II Sprite went into production with the MG Midget in 1961.

With a face like that, it’s easy to love the Sprite, but I particularly like this little ’59 Mark I for the spirit of the modifications performed on it over 50 years ago. According to the seller, the Sprite was modified in the late 1960s for track use, and it was only raced a few times before it was parked in a garage for more than five decades. During the seller’s subsequent ownership, the engine was torn down and inspected, and the ad reports that the engine internals were all in good condition with no evidence of wear and tear. Furthermore, the little 948 cc four-cylinder has been worked over pretty good, with some trick work to the head including larger valves, upgraded springs, reworked combustion chambers and some porting. It also sports an upgraded camshaft, modified SU carbs, long-tube headers, a 1275 clutch and an aluminum radiator.

To go along with the modifications under the hood, the builder added fender flares, lowering springs, custom sway bars and a kickass set of Daisy mag wheels. I’d kill to have a set like that for my Spit, and they really go well with the custom paintwork on the car, which the seller reports is still in decent condition.

Unfortunately, there are some downsides to consider with this car, even for the price of $10,000. For one, the car is sold on a bill of sale only, meaning this car really should be used on the track. And if you do, you’re really going to want to go through this car front to back, beyond the list of needs the seller already details, and you’ll probably end up replacing anything safety related along the way. That includes that roll cage, and even though it looks pretty decent by 1960s definitions, it’s going to be out of date for most tracks.

So is $10,000 really that cheap for this little Sprite? I guess that depends. Either way, I think it’s cool as hell and I’d love to thrash it on the track.

Check it out here on Los Angeles Craigslist.

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British Cars Race Cars