It may look cute with its distinctive ‘frogeye’ lights or protruding ‘bugeye’ lights as they called the Mark 1 Austin Healey Sprite in the USA where it achieved sales success, but this rally version can give you a speedy bite!
With a 1275 cc developed version of the original Austin A-Series engine, the healthy top speed of 85 mph is almost irrelevant compared to the zip it delivers to get you there on twisty rally roads.
With front suspension of wishbones, coil springs and the shock absorber lever acting as a top link, it steers with ease and handles as intended for the nimble little sports car that was created by the Donald Healey Motor Company for BMC in 1958. The Sprite’s chassis design became the world’s first volume production sports car to use part monocoque construction where all but the hinge up bonnet was able to take structural stresses.
No wonder then that the ‘frogeye’ became a winner when it took to the tracks and rally stages. The BMC Competitions Department entered Austin Healey Sprites in major international races and rallies.
The first major rally success was winning the class on the 1958 Alpine Rally, a really gruelling event, but the driver was John Sprinzel who became synonymous with Sprites in racing, rallying and tuning them, whilst the navigator was the ace map man Willy Cave. Both are now sadly departed but both were rally legends who cut their teeth in Austin Healey Sprites.
In 1959 the Sprite was introduced to the USA, soon becoming known as the ‘bug-eye,’ and was entered into the 12 hours of Sebring where it won its class. The car became a great success in the USA and was raced extensively in SCCA races as a very competitive club racing car – and it still races and rallies all over the world with top results 64 years on!
This little light green machine embodies all the qualities that have taken the ‘frogeye’ on its road to stardom. Our Arrive and Drive Sprite has full competition equipment including under-body protection and full safety harnesses, the navigator has a Brantz rally meter for distance calculation and the obligatory map light for night work.
It is a joy to drive but a thrill to compete in, so book a rally in the ‘frogeye’ soon and get the bug!