The Sprite was well known for being the aftereffect of a 1956 gathering between Leonard Lord, the overseeing chief of the British Motor Corporation, and Donald Healey. The two distinguished the interest for a conservative two-seater along the lines of the pre-war Austin Seven Nippy, one that would ideally observe its proprietors graduating to an MGA or an Austin-Healey 100/6 inside a couple of years.
This new sports auto would utilize whatever number existing segments as could be allowed – the gearbox, front suspension and back axle were from the Austin A35, the rack and pinion steering from the Morris Minor and power would derive from the well-known 948cc A-series motor improved with twin SU carburettors.
The Sprite was additionally to be the world’s first mass-delivered sports auto to utilize unitary development strategies and it was initially expected to be furnished with retractable headlamps. These were at last judged to be excessively costly, making it impossible to produce and the outcome was the unmistakable “Frogeye” profile.
“The most exciting car on the road for £668 17s, tax paid” was inside the monetary reach of those fans whose past vehicles were a home-assembled Ford 100E-powered kit auto or a second-hand Singer Roadster.
The most recent Austin-Healey was a modern design with a top speed of over 80mph that still held a significant number of the trappings of a “customary” British sports vehicle, from the separable side-screens and the absence of outside door handles and locks.
The “Frogeye” was supplanted by the marginally more customary looking Mk2 in the spring of 1961 and at that point, Austin-Healey had changed the British sports auto market. At the cost of a Morris Minor or a Ford Anglia, a driver could appreciate genuinely abundant motoring that autos costing two or even three times the sum may battle to emulate.
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