A recently completed project worthy of high-lighting is an Austin Healey Sprite that was a nuts and bolts restoration.  But what makes it special are the modifications we performed to make the car more road friendly and fun to drive.  The early "bug-eye" Sprites are historically down on power, lacking in braking and general creature comforts. The owner of the car, Keith Walden, came to us with a laundry list of items he wanted to see incorporated in the build. Our end goal was to present a car that was, at once, recognized as what it was externally and then incorporate the enhancements from the wish list as subtly as possible.  

The car had been set up as and used as a race car prior to coming to us and probably saw action on the original Virginia International Raceway.  It had been in a "shunt" at least once, evidenced by the body damages on the right side and rear of the car. It still had a simple roll bar installed and indications of some attempts to improve handling. The original 950 cc engine and smooth case transmission had gone partially missing, for all intents and purposes. But, it was generally a pretty complete car and an excellent candidate for restoration.

Our restoration began with all of the normal and usual tasks to sort the body and repair all of the sheet metal. This turned out to be more extensive than originally anticipated, where we had to get a donor car for the replacement rear deck section.  We grafted in this entire panel from just behind the rear cockpit rail to the bottom of the "boot". The right side rear quarter panel was replaced as well as several other sections and patch panels. Fortunately, the bonnet was the best piece of sheet metal on the car and with out a lot of effort, was easily restored.

As the body work was being completed, we turned our attention to the drive train and suspension.  A 1275 cc engine selected was completely rebuilt for the car, using a fast street road map. A Datsun 210 five-speed transmission was coupled to the Austin Healey engine and run through an original final drive. The engine still has SU carbs and points fired ignition.  The original starter was replaced with a hi-torque starter and the generator was tossed out in favor of an alternator. Cooling was managed with a stock AH radiator and an oil cooler.

We replaced the single line brake/clutch master cylinder with a mid-sixties hydraulic set up. The front brakes were uprated to discs and the rears matched to the later configuration. Needless to say, every piece and part of the suspension and braking systems were either replaced with new or carefully reconditioned for reuse.

The most fun in the build was how the creature comforts were managed.  We secured a set of racing style seats from Sports and Classic's that came completely upholstered and ready to put in the car.  What did not come with the seats was any mounting hardware.  We chose to use seat mounts and sliders from a TR6, which were incorporated with only the very basic modifications. The dash panel selected was an original piece modified to accept new instruments from Speedhut and the new controls and switches.  All of the gauges were digital/electronic units.  The speedo is GPS oriented with all kinds of information feed back beyond the normal road speed. The original size of the gauges was maintained to preserve the proper look. The starter is key and push button versus the original pull start option. The owner asked to have the windshield "chopped" and we accommodated that using most of the original frame sections and Lexon glazing. The steering wheel is a 12" Moto Lita.

The alloy wheels are from Moss Motors and the tires are Kumho 175-70 x 13. The paint is a gray typical of an early Jaguar or Astin Martin. There are also many more little items that were incorporated in the build that when viewed as a whole serve to preserve the look of th original AH Bug-eye Sprite while making this car really fast, easy to drive and with the five-speed, safe to take out on a highway.

As we are a Master Distributor for Moss Motors the lion's share of the new parts were purchased from them, but we went far afield to secure many more of the unusual and unique for the final fit-up.  We can supply more details on these additional suppliers if you desire.  All in all this was a lot of fun and the owner is really enjoying his "new ride".