1961 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite
Engine: Spark-ignition 4-stroke
Displacement: 948cc / 57.9 cu. in.
Horsepower: 48 hp @ 5,000RPM
Torque: 52 ft-lb @ 3,000RPM
Transmission: 4-speed manual
A Little History
Austin-Healey is a British sports car maker established in 1952 through a joint venture between the Austin division of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and the Donald Healey Motor Company (Healey). Healey was a renowned automotive engineering and design firm, and felt at the time that sports cars were getting too big and too luxurious. Donald Healey Motor Company began work on what would become the Sprite. Like Healey’s bigger cars, it would use off-the-shelf components from Austin and Austin’s British Motor Corporation (BMC) parent company.
Healey’s Gerry Coker — and later, Les Ireland — would work with chassis engineer Barry Bilbie to develop the lightweight roadster. It featured a unitized construction from the A-pillar back, with two front chassis legs forward and its trunklid deleted to better aid rigidity. An overarching goal was to make the Sprite the most affordable sports car on the market. To help achieve a U.S. base price of just $1,795, BMC rejected a pop-up headlamp design. Instead, they were fixed in position and perched above the irresistible smiley-face grille. As a result, the car earned the nicknames “Bugeye” in the States and “Frogeye” in the U.K.
The Sprite on view was formerly owned by renowned car enthusiast Colin Comer, who purchased the car for his wife Cana as the road-going complement to their 1959 Bugeye Sprite, affectionately called “Kablooie,” that she has raced to three series championships. This Sprite retains its immaculate original chassis, underbody and numerous original finishes throughout, including its original Leaf Green color.