Site Last Modified 29 July 2003
The Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite
In 1956, Leonard Lord of British Motor Corporation mentioned to Donald Healey that there was a need for a small, low-cost sports car to fill the gap left by the disappearance of the pre-war Austin Seven Nippy and Ulster models. DMH set about designing a prototype which was to become the famous "Bugeye Sprite". This picture is a photograph of a copy of the original scale drawing of the Bugeye Sprite done by Gerry Coker in 1956. The original was reduced to 11 x 17 and the body hand colored by Mr. Coker. The selected color was Ferrari Red. The reason Ferrari Red was chosen was that DMH and Mr. Coker used to joke about the Sprite being the "Poor Man's Ferrari" and according to Mr. Coker, the first Sprite prototype was painted Ferrari Red. Mr. Coker donated this work to the Austin Healey club to be sold at auction at the Lake Tahoe International Austin Healey gathering in June of 2002. I was lucky enough to have purchased it at that time. The Sprite went into production in early 1958 under the Austin-Healey badge as Austin Drawing Office Project Number 13 (hence the site name ADO13) and was an instant success.
In the original Gerry Coker design (see
above drawing and photo below), the Sprite was to have pop-up headlamps that lay flat when
closed as later seen on the Porsche 928. They were deleted due to cost and complexity and
the headlamps were mounted on the bonnet giving the car a Frog like appearance. The Sprite
was immediately dubbed the "Frogeye" which was translated into
"Bugeye" on this side of the pond.
The "Bugeye" was built from 1958 through 1960 at which time it was replaced by the MkII Sprite and the MkI Midget. All told, almost 50,000 Bugeye's, including those assembled from CKD kits were built. The Italian Sprites were also built on the Bugeye chassis but with a different body.
Bugeye Sprite Prototype
Photo and Information Provided by Jonathan Whitehouse-Bird Via Mike Maclean.
(Click Photo To Enlarge)
Note Sill Line and External Door and Bonnet Hinges, Popup Headlamps (in the up position), Badge on the Grill Top, Bonnet Badge, Unusual Side Screens, High Side Screen Hardtop and Short Windscreen Pillars.
1959 Austin Healey Sprite.
1275 cc "A" Series Engine Bored 40 Over.
Hepolite Flat Top Pistons.
Aluminum Head & Roller Rockers From Pierce Manifolds.
Mild Road Cam.
Weber 40 DCOE Sidedraft With Canon Manifold.
Aldon Centrifugal Advance Distributor.
Multiple Spark Discharge Ignition Triggered By Pertronix Ignitor.
Cockpit Timing Control (15 Degrees).
Datsun 210 5-Speed Using Rivergate Bell Housing Adapter
Plate And Modified 1275 Flywheel, 210 Clutch
Plate, 210 Pressure Plate, And 210 Release bearing.
Frontline Front Tube Shock & Upper "A" Arm Conversion.
Programmable VDO Electronic Speedometer
13 x 5" Minitor Mag Wheels.
175 x 60 x 13 Falken Tires.
Fiberglass Bonnet With Forward Tilt Hinge.
RCI Low Back Fiberglass Seats.
Seat Covers By: Andy And Me, Seaside CA.
Paint By: Mike At Pestanas, Seaside CA.
Carpets By: Ricks Auto Upholstery, Sand City CA.
Parts For Sale
Internet Spridget List Information
And List Of Options
Internet Spridget List Member Information
And List Of cars
Bugeye Parts Manual
Pictures and a history of the
that I've owned since 1965-1966.
Pictures and a tale of building a Bugeye
using a tub and some parts catalogs.
Worlds Fastest Bugeye
Pebble Beach Sports Car Club
Future Bugeye Owner
Bugeye Dreams - A little Bugeye humor
Love At First Site - Story and pictures
about my first Bugeye and the original Bugiii's
Project Bugeye - The trials and
building a Bugeye from scratch.
BUGIIIS Tech Pages
Spridget Wing Window's For Sale
Free Bugeye Screen Saver
Glen Byrns Turbo Bugeye
Sandi's Porsche Page
The Spridget Web Ring