1958 Austin-Healey “Bugeye” Sprite

In careful hands a Sprite could return 40 mpg-but not many did. Healthy survivors are scarce

The meticulous restoration of the 1958 “Bugeye” Sprite offered here has been the subject of newspaper and magazine articles in the U.S. and the U.K.

“Here’s a new twist to a timeless tale. A group of high school students pool their money to buy a car, it needs some work.but hey, how hard can it be to make an old car run? Sounds like something from the era of ducktails and drive-ins? But here’s the twist: those students are young women, and the 1958 Austin-Healey “Bugeye” Sprite was just a tub and twenty-odd boxes full of rock-hard rubber, rats nests of frayed wire, and hundreds of unlabeled bits!”

DECIDED TO DO IT RIGHT

The first step in the 18-month saga of “Team Sprite” began with the discovery of a three-inch patch of beautiful Cherry Red original paint while stripping away a 25-year-old BRG repaint. At that point, the girls voted to restore the car as closely as possible to the way it rolled off the assembly line, in late October 1958.

The ensuing bumper-to-bumper, show-quality restoration proceeded with Team Sprite trading their just-finished 1,098-cc mill for a 1958, 948-cc engine professionally rebuilt with NOS parts. Using parts with correct date codes as far as possible, the team returned the car to original factory specifications. A new convertible top, restored sliding side windows, and the rare dealer option luggage rack make AN5L6206 a highly correct Sprite. A file of documentation for purchased and donated parts accompanies the car in the sale.

The proceeds of the sale will go to the five original investors; three girls just started their first year of college, the fourth plans to travel, and their teacher and mentor plans to look for another project, maybe a small vintage racer of some sort.

With its 0-60 in a neck-snapping 22 seconds, and a heating system once described as “a hamster puffing warm air across your knees,” the perpetually grinning Bugeye Sprite is unquestionably the most affordable of classic sports cars, and guarantees more smiles per gallon than cars costing ten times as much.

Gary Anderson

Gary Anderson - SCM Contributor

Gary is also Editor in Chief of The Star, the magazine for the Mercedes-Benz Club of America. He has been active for many years in the Austin-Healey Club USA and is co-author of MBI’s best-selling Austin-Healey Restoration Guide, as well as editor of the Austin-Healey Magazine. An avid vintage race driver, he ran his 1960 MGA in three Monterey Historics, four Wine Country Classics, and the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. He is the author of Motoring: Getting the Maximum from Your New Mini, a comprehensive guide to the new MINI Cooper, available through Amazon.com.

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