When a friend called and asked if I wanted to buy his Austin-Healey Sprite, I politely declined, citing my bank account balance – which was darn close to not having a comma in it. I had told my fiancée that I was going to start saving again and attempt to re-balance the books with two project cars in the garage already. Then my friend told me the price, and my sweetheart called the car “cute.” Yup, I had to have it.
So here I am, introducing you to a new project. I’ve set a goal to show all of you playing along that you can have a car that’s both fun to drive and affordable. That means I’m going to track every cent (okay, penny, for our British friends) of this particular project and show you the reality of it – no TV magic, no fudged budgets telling you it’s cheap when it’s not, no sponsored stuff.
There are two reasons I am using this particular car. The first is that the parts are insultingly cheap compared to most vintage cars. This is mainly due to the massive numbers in which the Sprite and its sister car, the MG Midget, were produced. The second is that it is delightful to drive while also being at least a little practical. This little roadster has a trunk (that’s boot to you Brits) large enough to carry luggage for you and a passenger on a weekend trip, while also having the power and handling to drive at 60–70 mph and keep up with traffic.
The first items to address are weak brakes and a clutch that won’t disengage completely. After some diagnosis, I think there are simple fixes to be done, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be hurdles. The first of those is a stripped bleeder screw for the passenger rear brake. I can only imagine that this won’t be the last such hurdle I’ll have to deal with, but in the end I know it will be worth it.
Of course, much of this is me just trying to justify my new purchase, which I don’t have to do… right? Regardless, stay tuned to see how this project pans out. My initial money is on a few simple fixes to get this one in a condition that will allow me to map out some fall (yes, I know, autumn!) colour tours before long. If you want to see if I’m right, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to receive notifications when each video goes live.