Donald Healey could not have imagined that his simple design brief to build a small sports car that “a chap could put in his bike shed” would result in a car that is still being raced now, nearly 60 years later. Gerry Coker, stylist at the tiny Donald Healey Motor Company, could not have foreseen that the simple car he penned would become an icon and define a mini-genre, but it did.
Their bike-shed car was introduced in 1958 as the Austin-Healey Sprite, but it quickly became better known simply as the “Bugeye” in North America and as the “Frogeye” elsewhere. Its smile-producing headlamp pods somehow survived British Motor Corporation design review, and between March 1958 and November 1960, 48,987 were produced, far outpacing the quantity of Big Healeys made during the same period.
Instead of becoming an entry-level car intended as a step toward an eventual Big Healey purchase, it immediately assumed its own identity as the sports-car-hungry public snapped them up and went racing, rallying, cruising and touring in them.