Around 1962 to 1969 Austin-Healey Sprite gained popularity. It was famously known as the ‘Bugeye’. This low cost, tiny sports car received good attention from the people. This car was not only affordable but way too fun minus the frills. Interestingly designed body and its definitive engine gave a boost to the sales and made this car a sporting success. Around 50,000 cars which were the initial models of the Sprite MK II were sold in just 4 years. It was in 1962 that the Sprite MK II/ III/ IV – Austin Healey was introduced in the industry of convertible cars.
What was kept and what was let go?
While the MK II Sprite model retained the Bugeye’s body it underwent a major transformation. The Bugeye had a cheerful visage, but the Sprite had conventional grille with headlight. It stood out to be an amazingly styled car.
In the beginning, MK II initially had the 948-cc A-series 4-cylinder engines. However, around 1962, this model adopted the longer stroke 1098-cc version. This engine offered it a good power increase from the regular 46 bhp to the amazing 56 bhp. The car had an outright straight line speed. However, it was limited because of the engine of the car got displaced and it affected its performance and power.
Thankfully it was lightweight and had a low center. This made the car a terrific handler and Sprite earned its reputation in the world of convertibles as well as the rally circuit. It was in the year 1964, there were some serious of revisions made in the MK III Sprite. Its new curved windshield and roll up side windows drove the people crazy. The exterior handles and a reworked engine simply enhanced the life of this convertible.
As time passed, the model saw several revisions from 3 additional bhp to larger main bearings, from rear suspension to headlights was updated and improved at the same time as well. It was MK IV Sprite that hit the markets in October 1966. This one had a notably new and a detuned 1275-cc engine which was used for the Mini Cooper S. The power output was pulled up by 65 bhp in the process.
Soon, the production of the Healey cars was stopped for nearly two years. The dealer network dwindled especially in the US. They found it difficult to market one car under three brand names. It was challenging for the dealers. Additionally, the MG’s arbitrary success Sprite simply disappeared from the markets.
Currently, the Sprites MK II / III / IV are available much cheaper than the Bugeye Sprites. They do offer the classic driving experience and open for bargains. Convertible purists would go for the Mk II Sprites. However, the practical-minded would love to have Mk IIIs or the Mk IVs. It is simply because these models come with weather protection built and a superior suspension setup. Any of the models come with easy and straightforward mechanicals. You will not have to struggle with their parts as they are easily available in the markets!