Sold for £15,550
(including buyers premium)
Registration No: HEK 140
Chassis No: 9CUH45844
Thanks to its prominent, bonnet-mounted headlights, the original Austin-Healey Sprite quickly became known as the `Frogeye'. The little two-seater, designed by the Donald Healey Motor Company and built by BMC at the MG factory in Abingdon, was launched in Monte Carlo immediately prior to the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix. The unique, one-piece bonnet covered a mildly tuned, twin carburettor, 43bhp 948cc version of the BMC A' series engine already found in the Austin A35 and Morris Minor. The suspension featured coil springs and wishbones up front, quarter elliptic springs to the rear and lever arm dampers all round. Today, the Sprite is legendary as one of the best-handling Sports Cars of its time and regularly lives up to its reputation with many of them still finding use in competition events internationally.
This particular Sprite is overall a charming example, perfect for someone looking for an extremely presentable, yet useable example. Built on 29 August 1960 and despatched on 07 September to Hattons Limited of Southport, the car was presented in Leaf Green with green trim and a black hood. ‘HEK 140’ was acquired by its previous owner in c.1978. The story, as it goes, is that the car was on the road until the mid 80’s, before being laid up in a garage. Having finished one Sprite, the owner decided to begin the restoration on this car in 2013, with the bulk of the work beginning in 2016. This restoration continued, including the bodyshell being prepared and painted in its original colour and the engine overhauled with Automotive Services of Northampton. This engine overhaul included hardened valve seat inserts for unleaded fuel, the cylinders re-bored, crankshaft re-ground, head re-surfaced, valve seats machined, valve guides repaired, block resurfaced and more. Most of the remaining parts were also repaired or replaced ready for the rebuild and most of the works were entrusted to Nene Valley Body Repairs, but unfortunately due to ill-health he had to pass the baton to someone else for completion.
During this period, he fastidiously curated a 4-inch thick folder (Yes, we measured it) containing an enormous collection of information relating to the restoration. This may, perhaps, be in contention for the most attention to detail we have seen within a history file! Included within are a large collection of hand-written notes relating to the restoration, including notes to the restorers on progress, suggestions and updates. As well as this, further notes to other contractors, drawings, diagrams and more. There is a printed cost breakdown on a spreadsheet, print-outs from listings for parts advertised that were used, various parts catalogues, lists of spares providers, list of measurements, even a guide to painting the car. As well as this, hand written notes from parts purchased along with the check he paid with, which were then placed onto the notes, scanned and printed into one page! There are hand-written details of the gearbox overhaul carried out by Heathrow Transmissions, various guides and literature, print-outs of shopping baskets, potential suppliers, numerous invoices from AH Spares and A-Head 4 Healeys and even a printed safety data report on the seam sealant that we assume he used!
So, now understanding the attention to detail by the previous owner, it is time to move on. The vendor purchased ‘HEK 140’ in 2019 in unfinished form and swiftly began the re-assembly process. This was undertaken over the course of 2020 and 2021 with invoices for parts totalling £2,577. Since its completion that year, he has covered under 800 miles in dry weather. In his ownership, he retained the original registration. Unfortunately, during this process, the DVLA lost the Heritage certificate. There is, however, a photocopy along with a British Motor Industry Heritage Trust information sheet. The car still retains its original engine, along with a correct smooth case gearbox. Also included is an original driver’s handbook in very delicate condition along with a number of printed photographs documenting the rebuild by the current owner. Now with 783 miles on the odometer at time of consignment, this presents an excellent opportunity for someone looking for a Sprite fully restored with exquisite attention to detail.
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Auction: 30th Anniversary Sale at The Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 20th Sep, 2023
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Tuesday 19th September 2023 from 1pm to 8pm
Wednesday 20th September 2023 from 9am
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