’61 Austin Healey “Bugeye” Sprite

The ‘angry’ Bugeye

I’ve owned two of these—a race car and a street car. Oddly, both were exactly the same color inside and out-canary yellow paint, red interiors. These two shots are darn close to the H-production car I traded the 3.4 MKII for, although mine didn’t have the fancy induction system shown in the motor picture and it wasn’t right-hand drive like the one shown to the left. A side draft Weber graced mine, coupled with a Huffaker header. Pretty much the hot set up at the time. Didn’t make huge power by today’s standards but it was a competitive car, given the limited talent (and budget) of the driver.

On the ‘fun to drive’ scale, I’d rate this one right at the top of the list. You could drive the snot out of it and it was hard to get yourself in any real trouble. Although, with the short wheel base and fat tires, it would swap ends on you pretty darn quick if you weren’t paying attention to things. The Sprite was one of those race cars that an ordinary guy could actually afford to track. I did all my own work and, other than a few sets of tires, didn’t need a trailer of spares to keep it going.

948cc of angry British iron

I kept the Sprite race car for a couple of seasons, finally blowing it up on the last run of the year. At that point, it was going to be some serious coin to build up a worthy race motor and at a time when I was struggling to keep food on the table. The race car wasn’t going to feed me. There have been few cars that I have been truly wistful at seeing go, my Cobra was definitely one and this little H-production Sprite was the other.

Some day, maybe, if I hit the lottery and have the money, time, and space, I’d love to gather up all of the cars I’ve owned again. The Sprite would be the first one I went looking for. It was that much fun.

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