Owner meets up with the ‘Fro­g­eye’ Sprite that he sold back in the Six­ties

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK -

Tony Os­borne al­ways missed the Austin-Healey ‘Fro­g­eye’ Sprite that he sold in favour of a fam­ily-friendly es­tate. Hav­ing re­galed his daugh­ter, Han­nah, with tales of his for­mer pride-and-joy, she set out in Septem­ber to sur­prise her father by track­ing the car down in time for his 80th birth­day.

Ap­peals on Face­book via the Mid­get and Sprite Club con­firmed that the car still ex­isted; with the clas­sic car com­mu­nity in tow, Han­nah got in touch with the Sprite’s cur­rent owner, Michael Lock, who bought the car from a South Devon garage with the pro­ceeds of his pa­per round af­ter it left Tony’s hands; with his name on the log book, Michael had to wait un­til he was of age to drive it. Ac­cord­ing to Han­nah, Michael def­i­nitely got the bet­ter deal. Tony had part-ex­changed the Fro­g­eye against a Tri­umph Spit­fire. Han­nah said: ‘In my dad’s words, the Spit was “a rust heap”.’

Within a year the Spit­fire had gone – kids were on the way and an es­tate car was needed. Their dull ser­vice­abil­ity con­trasted with the fun Tony and his girl­friend (later his wife) had in the Fro­g­eye; the car – which was three years old when Tony bought it in 1964 – took them on their first date in 1966 and Tony to Wem­b­ley to see the World Cup fi­nal.

The fol­low­ing year they took the Sprite on a Euro­pean road trip – in­clud­ing a stop-off at an Ital­ian opera and an un­sched­uled ren­dezvous with the tail­gate of a sta­tion wagon in Aus­tria, which dam­aged the nose.

1968 saw the Fro­g­eye take the cou­ple off to the Scilly Isles be­fore life took a turn for the sen­si­ble.

Tony lost track of the Fro­g­eye af­ter he sold it – un­til a sur­prise meet­ing with its cur­rent owner re­dressed the bal­ance. Han­nah said: ‘The car re­ally was dad’s pride and joy; he re­gret­ted sell­ing it to the present day.

‘He didn’t know we were look­ing for it un­til we had made con­tact with the cur­rent owner and I was able to show dad a photo of the car now. It was a bit emo­tional!’

Michael and Tony will keep in touch – and the for­mer has promised the lat­ter a drive next time…


Tony Os­borne re­united with his old Sprite, pic­tured with cur­rent owner Michael Lock (driv­ing)…

…and here he is with the car dur­ing their hey­days to­gether.

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