ENGINE 948cc/4-cyl/OHV POWER 43bhp@5200rpm TORQUE 52lb ft@3300rpm MAX SPEED 86mph 0-60MPH 20.5sec FUEL CONS 32-35mpg TRANSMISSION RWD, four-speed manual MoT 12 months on sale ODOMETER 5 miles (new speedo just fitted) WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
This left-hand drive car is probably as close to driving a new Austin-Healey Sprite as you can get, since most of its steering, suspension and brakes have been renewed. The car feels eager, pulls well, and handles a lot better than you might think, in view of the fact that it relies on Austin A35 components. These cars aren’t that fast, really, but that doesn’t seem so when you are behind the wheel. The gearchange is beautifully precise and the Mountney steering wheel has a reassuring chunky feel to it, the steering itself free of play and sensitive to even minor driver inputs. The clutch is light and the brakes cause no alarm, pulling the car up cleanly.
The Lotus-sourced red paint has been completed to the highest standard – there’s not a single noticeable flaw anywhere. Even a good look in the door shuts reveals nothing untoward. The vast curved bonnet/wing clamshell can’t be the easiest thing to paint but again we could find nothing amiss. The car has new sills, and the rest
HOW’S THE INTERIOR?
The Sprite’s interior is nearimmaculate – we almost screamed with glee when we found a small scuff on the steering wheel’s leather rim and a couple of minor chips on the spokes. The instrument panel and the instruments themselves are as-new, right down to the labels explaining what the various switches are for. The carpets, seat coverings and doortrims have all been renewed and a new laminated windscreen has recently been fitted, but we couldn’t get the Realistic radio to work.
UNDER THE BONNET
There’s very little to report in here. A pipe from one of the air filters could do with a rag being passed over it and the radiator – which looks like a reconditioned original – has a little white discolouration on it, but shows no sign of leakage or overheating. The oil and antifreeze are clean. Recent work includes a replacement cylinder head and a reconditioned gearbox.
THE CCW VIEW
Just about everything on this car – which is believed to have been imported from the USA around five years ago – has been renewed or replaced, according to a written testimonial and a handful of bills within the history file. It’s not quite concours but all the work that’s been done to the car has been completed to an extremely high standard. Being a left-hooker might put some off, but is any other car more fun to drive?