Buy­ing Clas­sics Abroad

Austin-Healey ‘Frogeye’ Sprite

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Contents -


The mono­coque body will be ex­pen­sive to re­pair, es­pe­cially as the front sec­tion is one piece of metal. Watch out for shoddy welds. The box-sec­tion strength­en­ing pieces around the bulk­head are a hotspot for rust, as are the whee­larches and sills. Also check the metal is solid around the hinges.


Some have tuned Mini en­gines, but the orig­i­nals are 948cc, 43bhp units from the Austin A35, with twin SU carbs. Look for blue smoke on the over-run (a sign of worn valve guides), and in­spect the oil filler for emulsion (in­di­cat­ing water in the oil).


Ask the seller whether the half­shafts have been re­placed. Oil leaks are of­ten found com­ing from the dif­fer­en­tial, so make sure it’s fully topped. Work the four-speed man­ual gear­box hard.


Although the sus­pen­sion and run­ning gear are de­rived from the Mor­ris Mi­nor, they were sharp­ened up for the Sprite, so be sus­pi­cious of flimsy han­dling. The king­pin bushes will wear if they haven’t been reg­u­larly greased, and the leaf springs can break.


The MkI Sprites lack a bootlid, so lug­gage tends to be piled be­hind the front seats, caus­ing wear and tear. Carry out the usual checks for water ingress and func­tion­ing dials. The ear­li­est cars also have frag­ile wind­screen sur­rounds.

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