OLD FRIENDS REUNITED
Owner meets up with the ‘Frogeye’ Sprite that he sold back in the Sixties
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.