Austin Healey Sprite 1958-1971
The original Austin Healey Sprite was known affectionally as the frog-eye Sprite in the UK and bug-eye in the USA.
Austin Healey Sprite
NEW AUSTIN HEALEY SPRITE ANNOUNCED
Confidential until May 20th. 1958
An Inexpensive Sports Car with many Outstanding Features
Today the Austin Motor Company makes motoring history with the announcement of a completely new small and inexpensive sports car. It is the Austin Healey Sprite powered by a special 948 .c.c. B.M.C. A-type engine (developing 42.5 b.h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m.) and costing GBP 455 plus GBP233 17s. Purchase Tax in Great Britain.
It is some twenty years since Austin made a small sports car but the ÔøΩSpriteÔøΩ lives up fully to the fine tradition established in the 1920’s and 30’s and more recently by the Austin Healey 100. It has a maximum speed in the eighties and rapid acceleration but with a fuel consumption ranging from 30-45 m.p.g.
The power unit is a tuned version of the well proven A35 engine, fitted with twin S.U. carburetters, and special valve springs; compression ratio is 8.3 to 1. Mechanical specification includes a four speed gearbox, independent front wheel suspension by wish bones and coil springs, quarter elliptic springing at rear with trailing arms (giving a low unsprung weight). A hypoid 3/4-floating rear axle, ratio 4.22 to 1, provides overall gear ratios of: First 15.31, second 10.02, third 5.96, and top 4.22 with 19.68 reverse. Steering is by rack-and-pinion, with 2 1/3 turns from lock to lock. Tyres are 5.20 x 13 in., tubeless. The Sprite has a two-seater body with all-weather equipment in the form of sidescreens and a detachable P.V.C.-coated hood.
Ease of maintenance has been given considerable attention; the entire front of the body is hinged from the scuttle giving excellent access to engine, suspension and steering unit.
A selection of bright finishes for body exterior, trim and hood range from cherry red to primrose. A wide range of extra equipment is available including heater and demister, windscreen washer, rev-counter, tonneau cover and laminated windscreen.
With the introduction of the Sprite, Austins are opening a new era in the sports car field, as not since 1938 has a small sports car been made by the Company. These early sports cars, ranging from the early “Ulsters” to the “Nippys” were all off-shoots of the 750 c.c. racers, which had so many outstanding successes, holding many international and speed records and attaining speeds in excess of 100 m.p.h.
Some of the original design points used on these pre-war Austin sports cars are used in a much more advanced and improved form on the present day Sprite. An example is the rear suspension which employs quarter-elliptic leaf springs and trailing arms.
The Sprite, now in production, is covered by the worldwide servicing facilities of the British Motor Corporation.
ISSUED BY THE PRESS OFFICE. THE AUSTIN MOTOR CO. LTD.,
The MK II Sprite had a more conventional front, with integrated headlamps. The car now had a boot lid (trunk lid) . It was identical to sister car MG Midget MK I, except for badge, grille and trim.
Austin Healey Sprite Mk II
Austin Healey Sprite Mk II with optional factory hard top