Manufacturer: British Motor Corporation Limited (BMC), Longbridge – UK
Type: Sprite Mk I (AN5) (Frogeye-Bugeye-Froschauge)
Production time: mid-year 1958 – mid-year 1961
Production outlet: 48,987
Engine: 948cc straight-4 BMC Austin A-series 948 OHV
Power: 42.5 bhp / 5.000 rpm
Torque: 71 Nm / 3.000 rpm
Drivetrain: rear wheels
Speed: 133 km/h
Curb weight: 670 kg
Wheelbase: 80 inch
Chassis: all steel mono-construction with front engine subframe and welded all-steel body
Steering: rack & pinion
Gearbox: close-ratio four-speed manual / II, III and IV synchronized / floor shift
Clutch: 6½ inch single dry plate disc hydraulically operated
Carburettor: twin 1 ⅛ " SU H1 semi-downdraft
Fuel tank: 27 liter
Electric system: Lucas 12 Volts 43 Ah
Ignition system: distributor and coil with auto and vacuum control
Brakes front: Lockheed 7 inch hydraulic drums (2-leading shoe type)
Brakes rear: Lockheed 7 inch hydraulic drums
Suspension front: inmdependent wishbones, rapezoidal triangle cross-guides, helical springs + hydraulic Armstrong lever type shock absorbers (no shock absorbers mounted at the very early models)
Suspension rear: beam axle, radius arms, Panhard rod, anti-roll bar, 2 longitudinal links, 4 quarter-elliptic leaf springs + hydraulic Armstrong lever type shock absorbers
Rear axle: live three-quarter floating banjo type
Differential: hypoid 4.222:1
Wheels: 13 inch pressed steel discs four-nut fixing
Tires: 5.20 x 13 4-ply tubeless
Options: 948cc straight-4 BMC Austin A-series 948 OHV with Shorrock-Supercharger (59bhp, 87Nm, twin SU HS2 carburettors, top speed 148 km/h), factory hardtop, tonneau-cover, heater, demister, radio, wire spoke “knock-on” wheels, 6-ply tires, windscreen washer, rev.counter (when fitted incorporates headlamp high beam warning lamp), chromiun plated front bumper (standard on export models), laminated screen
– Austin-Healey was a British Sports Car maker founded in 1952 through a joint venture between the Austin division of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and the Donald Healey Motor Company (Healey), a renowned automotive engineering and design firm. Leonard Lord represented BMC and Donald Healey his firm.
– BMC merged with Jaguar Cars in 1966 to form British Motor Holdings (BMH).
– Donald Healey left BMH in 1968 when it merged into British Leyland.
– Healey then joined Jensen Motors, which had been making bodies for the "big Healeys" since their inception in 1952, and became their chairman in 1972.
– Austin-Healey cars were produced until 1972 when the 20-year agreement between Healey and Austin came to an end.
– The Austin-Healey Sprite was designed by Donald Healey as a low-cost Sports Car and production began at MG’s Abingdon factory in March of 1958. Later models were also assembled in Enfield, completely new South Wales and in Australia.
– A few months later, the completely new car was officially introduced in Monte Carlo, just prior to the Monte Carlo Rally.
– In the UK it’s called "Frogeye", in the US "Bugeye" and in Germany "Froschauge".
– The headlights mounted on the top of hood were "lifted" because of U.S. Import legislations.
– Concealed flip-up headlamps were in the original drawings but high production costs canceled those plans.
– To build this little 2-door Roadster they used Austin, MG and Morris parts to keep the costs down.
– The two front chassis legs projecting forward from the passenger compartment mean the shell is not a full monocoque. The front sheet-metal assembly, including the bonnet (hood) and wings, was a one-piece unit, hinged from the back, that swung up to allow access to the engine compartment.
– The engine for example was also used in the Austin A35 and Morris Minor 1000 Series and the rack and pinion steering was derived from the Morris Minor 1000 Series and the front suspension from the Austin A35.
– It has no exterior door handles and no exterior boot lid (the back seats would need to be folded down to get access, incl. the spare tire).
– The entire front hood hinged upwards, allowing easy and convenient access to the engine.
– It was made at the MG works in Abingdon and sold for £669, so the intention of keeping the cost low worked.
– By the quarter-elliptic rear springs, a simple self-supporting body and little weight, the Sprite is a rigid car to drive: But real fun to drive ☺☺!
– They are still very popular for club racing.