Lot 387 - 1959 Austin-Healey Frogeye Sprite
|Chassis Number||AN5L 37448|
|Estimate||£8,000 - £11,000|
The Austin-Healey Sprite is a small, open sports car which was announced to the press in Monte Carlo on 20th May, 1958, just before the Monaco Grand Prix. It was intended to be a low-cost model that 'a chap could keep in his bike shed', yet be the successor to the sporting versions of the pre-war Austin Seven. The Sprite was designed by the Donald Healey Motor Company, which received a royalty payment from the manufacturers, BMC. It first went on sale at a price of £669, using a mildly tuned version of the Austin A-Series engine and many other components from existing cars to keep costs down. The little Sprite quickly became affectionately known as the 'Frogeye' in the UK and the 'Bugeye' in the US, because its headlights were prominently mounted on top of the bonnet, inboard of the front wings. Originally the designers had intended that the headlights could be retracted, with the lenses facing skyward when not in use; but cost-cutting by BMC led to the flip-up mechanism being deleted. The front sheet-metal assembly, including the bonnet and wings, was a one-piece unit, hinged from the back that swung up to allow access to the engine compartment. The 43bhp, 948cc engine was upgraded with twin 1 1/8"" inch SU carburettors. The rack and pinion steering and suspension were derived from the Morris Minor with the front suspension made up of a coil spring and wishbone arrangement and the arm of the Armstrong lever shock absorber serving as the top suspension link. The rear axle was both located and sprung by quarter-elliptic leaf springs, again with lever-arm shock absorbers. There were no exterior door handles; the driver and passenger were required to reach inside to open the door. There was also no boot lid and access to the spare wheel and luggage compartment was achieved by tilting the seat-backs forward and reaching under the rear deck.
This particular example was originally exported to the United States and was repatriated in July 2010. Having never been registered in the UK, the import certificate is available and therefore registration within the European Community is quite straightforward. The current vendor has restored the 'Frogeye' to a very high standard. Included in the comprehensive list of work carried out is a full engine rebuild, new rear road springs, brake pipes and master cylinder, fuel tank and much more. Finished in Lotus red with unmarked red leather trim, this lefthand drive Austin Healey 'Frogeye' Sprite is in remarkable condition and ready to be fully enjoyed.
Previous lotLot 386 - 1986 Porsche 911 RS Recreation
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