There may have been many faster small sports cars than the 1958 Austin Healey Sprite, but it is almost certain that none of them has ever been more endearing. With its gaping shape and the round eyes headlights which provided it with a ‘Frogeye’ nickname, this ride had captured the hearts of enthusiasts the world over. In fact, the trademark protruding lights were an afterthought when the extra cost involved ruled out Donald Healey’s idea for retracting headlights. Taking its machines form the well filled British Motor Corporation (BMC) parts bin, mostly the Morris Minor and Austin A35 the 11ft 5in. (3.48m) Sprite had a chirpy character on the road, too, with a respectable top speed of 84 mph (134 m/h) and up to 45 mpg (6.3 liters/100 km) attainable. Following on as the little brother to the big Healey 3000, the Sprite’s one piece front en lifted up to afford excellent access to the 948cc A-series engine, which gave all 43 bhp. The Sprite spawned many variants featuring increasing levels of ugliness and luxury. Partly in compensation, the drivers of the last Sprites of the early 1970s found themselves driving a car whose performance was way above that of the original Frogeye.
The Sprite was nothing if not persistent. There was even a badge engineered MG variant which revived (and disgraced) the old Midget name. Unfortunately it lasted until the late 1970s in a totally hideous, rubber bumpered form about which the less said the better.