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Austin Healey "Frogeye" Sprite | #SOLD

This is a 1959 Austin Healey Sprite MK1. The Mark 1 Sprite is better known by the name Frogeye or Bugeye because of its striking headlights. This Frogeye is in a beautiful colour combination of Speedwell Blue with White Hardtop and a Blue Leather interior. This matching numbers and colours car is equipped with the original and hard to find Factory hardtop and was kept in fully original specification. Furthermore, the car comes with the original two spoke steering wheel and a chrome luggage rack. The car drives really well, represents great value for money and is ready for many years of driving pleasure

The cheeky little 'Bugeye' Sprite was a simple case of building a car the public wanted. Affordable, simple and stylish, the Sprite was great fun to drive and proved both an enduring and endearing success, remaining in production from the time of its launch in 1958 through to the early 1970s. The Sprite was designed around an advanced monocoque chassis based on the D-Type Jaguar, giving great strength, and used various BMC components, including Morris Minor-derived steering and brakes, an Austin A35 engine with twin SU carburettors to give 43bhp at 5200rpm and a four-speed gearbox.

An initial plan to use pop-up headlamps was ditched early on, giving rise to the prominent headlamps that earned the Sprite its nickname, the Frogeye - although most Americans preferred to call the little sports car 'Bugeye' with Gerry Coker responsible for the simple but effective styling that still earns a smile today.

Many owners use their Austin Healey Sprites in competition today, fifty years after its introduction, where the exemplary handling and lively performance could be exploited to attain some excellent results. In total just under 50,000 of the Mark I Sprites were built. The 'Frogeye' Sprite is an excellent proposition as an affordable classic British sports car today, with plenty of support from clubs and specialists around the world.


The Austin-Healey Sprite is a small open sports car which was produced in the United Kingdom from 1958 to 1971. It was designed by Healey Motor Company within the bounds of their partnership with BMC, the idea being to use as many parts from the corporate parts bin as possible. Most parts came from the A35, front suspension, engine, gearbox and back axle, with the steering rack from the Morris Minor and other off the shelf parts being Smiths instruments and Lucas electrical components. The use of these ‘off the shelf’ parts helped keep the development costs to a minimum, thereby satisfying the requirement that the car should be cheap to produce.

The Sprite was announced to the press in Monte Carlo by the British Motor Corporation on 20 May 1958, two days after that year's Monaco Grand Prix. It was intended to be a low-cost model, but also a successor to the sporting versions of the pre-war Austin Seven. The Sprite was designed by the Donald Healey Motor Company, with production being undertaken at the MG factory at Abingdon.

The 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. The car's designers had intended that the headlights could be retracted, with the lenses facing skyward when not in use; a similar arrangement was used many years later on the Porsche 928. But cost cutting by BMC led to the flip-up mechanism being deleted, therefore the headlights were simply fixed in a permanently upright position, giving the car its most distinctive feature. This gave the car its appeal as a result of its much loved cute appearance.

The problem of providing a rigid structure to an open-topped sports car was resolved by Barry Bilbie, Healey's chassis designer, who adapted the idea provided by the Jaguar D-type, with rear suspension forces routed through the bodyshell's floor pan. The Sprite's chassis design was the world's first volume-production sports car to use unitary construction.

The 43 bhp, 948 cc OHV engine (coded 9CC) was derived from the Austin A35 and Morris Minor 1000 models, also BMC products, but upgraded with twin 1 1⁄8 inch SU carburettors. The rack and pinion steering was derived from the Morris Minor 1000 and the front suspension from the Austin A35.

The front suspension was a coil spring and wishbone arrangement, with 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 and top links.

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, owing to the need to retain as much structural integrity as possible, and access to the spare wheel and luggage compartment was achieved by tilting the seat-backs forward and reaching under the rear deck, which resulted in a large space available to store soft baggage.

The BMC Competition Department entered Austin Healey Sprites in major international races and rallies, their first major success coming when John Sprinzel and Willy Cave won their class on the 1958 Alpine Rally. In 1959, the Sprite was introduced to the U.S. market by racing and winning its class in the 12-hour race at Sebring. Private competitors also competed with much success in Sprites.

Because of its affordability and practicality, the Austin Healey Sprite was developed into a formidable competition car, assuming many variants by John Sprinzel, Speedwell and WSM. The Sebring Sprite became the most iconic of the racing breed of Austin Healey Sprites.

A total of 49987 were built between 1958 and 1961.


The information provided on this website has been compiled by Classic Insider with the utmost care. The information contained within this advert is provided ‘as-is’, without warranties as to its accuracy whether expressed or implied and is intended for informational purposes only. Classic Insider is not liable for any errors or mistakes.

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