- 1965 Austin-Healey Sprite MkIII
- Finished in original colours of Riviera Blue with blue interior
- Fully restored with no expense spared
- Concours-ready condition
Looking resplendent in its original colour combination of Riviera Blue with dark blue interior, this Austin-Healey Sprite MkIII has been meticulously restored and must be one of the best examples currently on the market.
Its Heritage Certificate states that it was built between 5-8 January 1965 and was despatched on 4 March. Chassis number H-AN8/49039 was a right-hand-drive UK-market car and was supplied with a heater, disc wheels and a toughened glass windscreen.
Its original supplying dealer is not listed, and by May 2016 it was a rolling chassis in need of complete restoration. All of the subsequent expenditure is carefully catalogued in the car’s history file, from the purchase of new front and rear bumpers to a rebuild of its A-series engine, a respray, and assorted interior and exterior components.
The Sprite was finished in summer 2017, with the total cost of its restoration adding up to just over £32,000. All invoices have been retained and there is also a hardback book of photographs documenting the entire process.
Having been cared for by marque specialist Motobuild since completion, its carburettors were rebuilt in 2020 and a fresh gearbox – mated to a lightened flywheel – was installed later that year. It has been put through an MoT test every year since the rebuild, with its next one being due in May 2023.
Now being offered for sale by The Classic Motor Hub, this Austin-Healey Sprite is truly immaculate inside and out, and is ready to provide the sort of ‘back to basics’, top-down entertainment for which this enduring little sports car is rightly famous.
Launched in Monaco shortly after the 1958 Grand Prix, the Austin-Healey Sprite was intended as a small, cheap sports car that would fit into BMC’s range beneath the larger MGA. It started a dynasty that would provide countless enthusiasts with affordable, fun motoring – a brief that it still fulfils more than 60 years later.
Under the stewardship of Geoffrey Healey – son of Donald – the original MkI Sprite featured bodywork that was designed by Gerry Coker, and its distinctive headlamps soon led to it being given the ‘Frogeye’ nickname. It featured unitary construction, and the engine was a twin-carburettor version of the 948cc A-series unit that was also found in the Austin A35 and Morris 1000.
Rack-and-pinion steering was used, the suspension was by coil springs and wishbones, and the live rear axle featured quarter-elliptic springs and lever-arm dampers.
In 1962, a redesigned Sprite was introduced that did away with the ‘Frogeye’ styling, and an MG Midget-badged variant made its debut. As well as the facelift, the engine was enlarged to 1098cc during the MkII’s production run and front disc brakes fitted. The same engine was carried over to the MkIII, which also featured exterior door handles and semi-elliptic rear springs.
Engine capacity was increased to 1275cc for the 1966 MkIV, which gained a fixed foldable soft-top, rather than the removable top used previously. After a short run of Austin Sprites (minus the ‘Healey’ name), production came to an end in 1971; its MG Midget sibling lived on until 1980.
Its fine handling and an engine that was ripe for modification meant that Sprite made a good competition car. Perhaps its most famous successes came at Sebring in Florida, with a class one-two-three in the 1959 12 Hours, but there was also class victory – and 12th overall – at the 1965 Le Mans 24 Hours for the Sprite driven by Paul Hawkins and John Rhodes.