The Austin-Healey Sprite was inspired by the popular car of the pre-war era, the Austin Seven, and used the BMC A-series 9CC engine shared with the Austin A35 and Morris Minor 1000. Its body was designed by Gerry Coker and engineered by Barry Bilbie who had a very good understanding of rigid chassis structures in roadsters. The Sprite was launched in May 20, 1958 in the United States. It was a pioneer among cheap sports cars, a type familiar to the British public from car magazines. It sold for 669 Pounds in the domestic market. With no door handles or trunk on the exterior, the Mark I used side curtains, in the English style of the 1950s, instead of windows.

A proposed retractable headlight system was canceled due to its high cost and were fixed: the car was therefore nicknamed the “Frogeye” in Britain and “Bugeye” in the United States due to its resulting appearance.

The Sprite was the first sports car to offer full access to the engine through a hood opening forwards with the fender, attached to a semi-monocoque body structure. Boasting a 4-cylinder 57.8 cu.in. 42.5 bhp double carburetor OHV engine and manufactured in the MG factory in Abingdon using BMC parts, the Sprite’s four-speed transmission, axle; independent, single wishbone front suspension and leaf-spring and damper rear suspension were from the Austin A35, while the steering rack and the drum brake system were from the Morris Minor. Sprites were available in 13 solid colors, five of which were green tones. Purchased in an auction in the United States, brought to our Museum and restored here, this example is Cherry Red. The car was successful in competition for BMC: it won the 1958 Alpine Rally, and took the top three places in the 1959 Sebring race. The Sprite Mk I ran from 1958 to 1961 and sold well: a total of 48,987 cars. Sprites were produced for a further ten years: the final Sprite series, the Mk V, was marketed in Britain only from 1969 to 1971.


  • Make Austin-Healey
  • Model Sprite
  • Model / Body Number Mk I (AN5)
  • Body Style Roadster
  • Year 1960
  • Origin England
  • Production Total 13,441 (Total 48,987)
  • Passenger Capacity 2


  • Engine BMC A-series, 4 cyl, In-line, OHV, Gasoline, 57.82 cu. inch, 42.5 bhp, 5200 rpm, Twin SU H1 Carburetor
  • Bore x Stroke 2.478 x 3 inch
  • Transmission Manual, 4-speed, synchro, floor shift
  • Top Speed 83 mph
  • Acceleration 0-60 mph, 19 s
  • Body / Frame Steel, semi-monocoque, open two-seater / Steel, box section, X-member
  • Suspension Front Independent, lower wishbones, coil springs, lever-arm damper shocks
  • Rear Quarter-elliptic leaf springs, lever-arm damper shocks
  • Electrical System 12 Volt, 38 Ampere
  • Brakes Hydraulic, 4-wheels drum
  • Wheelbase 80 inch
  • Overall Length 137.2 inch
  • Overall Width 53 inch
  • Overall Height 49.8 inch
  • Shipping Weight  1433 lbs
  • Front / Rear Tread 45.75 inch / 44.75 inch
  • Tires 5.20 x 13