1961 Austin-Healey Sebring Sprite

In 1958, following the Austin-Healey 100, Donald Healey and BMC (British Motor Corporation) teamed up to introduce the little Sprite. Speed parts were soon available from tuning firms, most notably Speedwell Performance Conversions. The firm also collaborated with Frank Costin and the Williams and Pritchard coachworks to produce a number of lightweight body components, including the “Monza” bonnet and the Speedwell Sprite GT fixed-head coupe. Sprites were campaigned in the most important rallies and sports car races, with particular success at the Sebring 12 Hours, where three standard-bodied Sprites swept the podium in 1959. As later described by John Sprinzel and Tom Coulthard in Spritely Years, “Sebring Sprite” was a catch-all term for racing Sprites homologated under FIA guidelines in 1960, with various upgrades and other modifications, including bodywork.

The 1961 Sebring Sprite offered here is listed within Spritely Years as having been originally fitted with lightweight alloy door skins and rear bodywork. It was first owned by Jack Wolchover, an English rally driver of note who competed with it in the October 1961 Bournemouth National Rally, the March 1962 Bolton Rally, and then a number of club events.

The Sprite found its way Stateside, where it was restored by Jeremy Bowkett and raced by Peter McLaughlin. At the 1996 Monterey Historics, the Sprite achieved a podium finish with Stirling Moss driving. As offered, this car is fitted with a fiberglass bonnet and a lift-off hard top, as well as being fully sorted with Tilton clutch and brake assemblies, an ATL fuel cell, and Minilite racing wheels.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

Posted in Race