1961 Austin-Healey Sprite Convertible
1961 Austin Healey Sprite Convertible
It's not terribly fast. The brakes are nothing special. The seats have very little padding, and there are no roll-up windows. The trunk is so hard to get to that one reviewer suggested that the job be left to a trained monkey. The very short list of standard' amenities doesn't even include a heater. An overly harsh assessment of the Austin-Healey Sprite? Well then… What we've left out, of course, is the "and yet" part, and here it is: "But what it is, is an irresistible, inviting package that from its 'bugeyes' and perpetually smiling grille to the unmistakable, raspy exhaust sound begs to be driven--seeming to say, 'Let's go out and have some fun."
This car was purchased used in the spring of 1965 by our current consigner. It was his college driver, and how cool is that? After which his sister had the pleasure of borrowing it for her high school and college stint. In 1994 our consigner's wife wanted it restored, and so the process began. Finally, in 2004 it was painted, and considered finished, but as with any classic some maintenance always needs to be performed, it's just the nature of the beast. When you turn 60 years old let's see how “maintenance free” you are! Now for consignment as its getting more and more difficult to get in and out, offered up for someone else, this wonderful 1961 “Bug Eye” Austin Healey Sprite with a nice history.
A true Bug Eye version with its bullet style headlights mounted into the hood, and just below its perpetual smiling front grille framed by a simple slightly curved mirror-like bumper below, this is a very desirable version from Austin Healey. A little blue bean if you will, paint is overall good with some chips seen throughput, but mostly unremarkable and dent free. Door glass is good, and the small windshield has some wiper scars but is clean and clear otherwise. Bumpers have just a slight pitting. Gaps are well minded, and the black canvas replacement top shows some yellowing on the rear plastic window. All minor things in the whole scope of this car which for 60 years old looks just great. Simple steel wheels are on all 4 corners, and these are capped with chromed badged AH dog dish style caps and wrapped in Hallmark P175/80R13 radials.
As we swing open the simple small doors, we note exterior matching blue metal panels with some wear just above a black vinyl storage pouch. Moving inside dark gray bomber style tuck and roll buckets with white piping sit snugly within the driver and passenger compartment. Some wear on these seats is seen mainly on the outsides of the buckets. These bombers float in a sea of navy blue carpet which is very clean. Within the hump in the center is a small straight shift lever standing proud. Upfront is the original flat board black covered dash that has a wonderful paint feel, and some simple gauges and knobs and pulls. A radio and a Jesus bar is in front of the passenger, and in the center of the dash on the body color matching blue dash top is a rear view mirror (decidedly British..I say ole chap!) A small storage area is behind the seats.
Underneath the rear hinged hood is an original 948cc 43hp engine with 2 SU H1 sidedraft carbs. On the back is a 4-speed manual transmission, connected to a 4.22 rear axle. Overall condition is good with a fine coating of surface rust on all parts, but not interfering in any way with performance.
Underneath plenty of surface rust for the usual suspects like the rear suspension (leaf springs) and bottom of the gas tank. The metal tub is in good rust free condition as is the body on all underlying surfaces (wheel wells, front and back roll pans etc). Noted, new brakes were installed in 2019, and this year (2020) the carbs were completely rebuilt and adjusted, as well as the master cylinder replaced with new.
As a sucker for anything British, and anything from the 60's, I clamored to get in, and shoehorned myself for the ride and the test track. Let's just say a perpetual smile not unlike the front grille was plastered to my face during said drive, where I experienced the open air, down and dirty performance, noise, great handling, and melodious exhaust sound for the duration of my drive. All functions were working as they should.
A neat little story with 55 years of ownership history behind it, now ready for the next BMOC college coolio to take charge and turn heads on campus. And if you are past this, you'll need it to boost your mojo, so do not count it out. Plus, you may be competing with this writer to have this car grace your driveway…. Cracking Bug Eye mate!
Classic Auto Mall is a 336,000-square foot classic and special interest automobile showroom, featuring over 600 vehicles for sale with showroom space for up to 1,000 vehicles. Also, a 400 vehicle barn find collection is on display.
This vehicle is located in our showroom in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, conveniently located just 1-hour west of Philadelphia on the I-76 Pennsylvania Turnpike. The website is www.classicautomall.com and our phone number is (888) 227-0914. Please contact us anytime for more information or to come see the vehicle in person.