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Austin Healey Frogeye Sprite

Austin Healey Frogeye Sprite Published: 31st Oct 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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A cheeky chappie whose looks alone gives you more smiles per mile than any other sportster, the Frogeye is still fun as a 60 something. Providing the basis of the later Sprites and Midgets (‘Spridgets’) the original Austin-Healey Sprite is no harder to maintain thanks to brilliant owner support although you do increasingly need to keep a beady eye on the originality and authenticity of any Frogeye due to their rarity and soaring values

Interior

Simple to restore, carpeting wasn’t a feature – rubber mats graced the fl oors instead. Many interiors now have carpets on the fl oors, but repro sets of rubber mats are available, at £40 per set

Chassis

Worst culprits are the rear spring mounting boxes in the floor behind the seats. There should be a gap of three inches or so between the top of the rear tyre and the arch. Less means major rot

Body

Rear-hinged bonnet incorporates wings and valance. Both of these tend to rust badly – a new bonnet costs over £3000. New Wheeler and Davies Frogeye bodyshells cost from £5300 to some £12K

Trim & details

Damaged rear lights can be replaced with MGA or TR3 units. The (optional) rev counter works via a mechanical drive from the back of the dynamo; pretty dear to fix as are faulty or aged instruments

Brakes

Master cylinder is dual item, controlling brake and clutch systems. Check efficiency and look for leaks, because if one of the bores is damaged or worn you’ll probably have to scrap the whole unit

Front suspension

Lever arm dampers wear quickly, so check by bouncing each corner. King pins and wheelbearings are other wear items. Steering should be crisp, if not assembly hasn’t been lubricated

Engine

From cold oil pressure should be 60lb and 40lb hot. If much less you can expect a rebuild before long. Tappet noise is a part of Sprite ownership, as is a rattling timing chain; fit sturdier Duplex type

Transmission

Originals have smooth gearbox casing, often substituted for the later better (1098/1275cc) ribbed versions. Expect whining in first but a heavy rattle indicates worn layshaft bearings. Halfshafts can be weak

Fancier and faster frogs?

Cars tuned in period are rare and fetch a price premium; look out for Frogeyes pepped up period tunes such as Donald Healey Motor Company, BMC Special Tuning, Alexander, Nerus or Speedwell, the latter being the most prolific of the lot. There were five genuine Sebring cars made in period, three of which survive. Because they’re so valuable (at least £85,000) and rarely come up for sale there are quite a few replicas around. Between 1985 and ’99, the Frogeye Car Company built 130 glassfibrebodied cars. Initially offered as a bodyshell, many cars ended up being fitted with modern running gear.



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