﹒1275cc A-series engine with single carburettor setup and stainless steel exhaust
﹒Appealing Old English White paintwork with a red hood and interior
Think Austin-Healey Sprite and the friendly, frog-eyed face of the mk1 Sprite probably comes to mind. Produced from 1958 to 1961 it’s among the best-loved British sports cars, serving as a spiritual successor to Britain’s affordable pre-war roadsters.
Unusual for the time in using unitary construction, Austin-Healey designed the car to use as many common components with more conventional cars as possible, helping keep the cost down – resulting in a low price of only £669 back in 1958. One of those components was the powertrain from the contemporary Austin A35 and Morris 1000, using a 948cc A-series with a pair of carburettors for extra performance.
The mk2 Sprite emerged in 1961, with a more sophisticated and more trans-Atlantic look, perhaps designed to appeal to customers in the United States as much as the UK. It was also joined by an MG variant named the Midget, and the two would run alongside each other until the end of production.
In time a 1098cc version of the A-series would find its way under the bonnet, and it became the sole power plant for the mk3 Sprite that debuted in 1964, and in 1966 the mk4 was released, of which the car you see here is an example. The mk4 gained a 1275cc A-series making 65bhp, a proper convertible hood to replace the removable top of the previous generations, and braking improvements. Production lasted until 1971.
This particular Sprite was built in July 1967 but first registered in November 1971. No doubt it was enjoyed as intended in its earlier decades, but by the time the current owner acquired the car two years ago it was in a sorry state – not quite a basket case, according to the seller, but in need of “repair, maintenance, and a lot of TLC”.
So that is what happened, and over the past couple of years the car has undergone a full recommissioning and sympathetic restoration. The car was taken completely apart and each aspect given attention. The bodywork was repainted in the original Old English White colour, a replacement gearbox sourced for the tired original, and the brakes replaced and rebuilt.
The original wheels have been replaced by a set of period-correct Minilites, the hood replaced, and the interior, including the dashboard, re-trimmed, but details like the instruments have been retained to maintain some of the original car’s history and patina. The car is now being moved on for someone else to enjoy – as is often the case, the seller has other projects and not enough time!
There is a healthy folder of paperwork included with the Sprite, with receipts covering every aspect of the restoration work mentioned above, plus familiar paperwork like old MOTs. The car will be sold with a current MOT for peace of mind despite its eligibility for exemption. One point to note to any interested party, is that the the mileage on the vehicle is not warranted.
Interesting details in the paperwork folder include a certificate from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust confirming the car’s chassis, engine and body numbers, the original exterior and interior colours, the Jersey dealership from which it was originally sold, and details of the original factory fitted equipment.
The folder also has handwritten notes detailing the cost of every element of the restoration, and a print-out detailing the car’s general specification, including modifications to the A-series engine fitted before the seller acquired the car.
It’s cosy in here, but thanks to the work undertaken over the last few years, also in fantastic condition. The red colour scheme perfectly offsets the Old English White paintwork on the exterior (the BMIHT certificate states the original cabin was black, so it’s much cheerier now) and the seller’s decision to restore what was required and retain everything else has paid off.
The seats are in great shape, with plump cushions and back rests and nicely piped in white leather to match the exterior, and the covered dashboard, the red carpets and even the door check straps are all in excellent condition. The door cards are as fresh as the rest of the cabin, and the chrome window winders, door handles and door latches are virtually unmarked. Door seals were another item replaced during the restoration and predictably, they’re also like new.
Items like the instruments, switches, steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake are indicative of the car’s age, but still in very good condition – the most obvious wear is to the dials, whose bezels have lost a few flakes of paint and whose faces would no doubt come up a treat with a bit of a polish.
Behind the seats, the tonneau area is as clean as the front carpeting, and while the hood is a little tricky to erect and stow if you’re more familiar with modern convertibles, it’s another item to have really benefited during the restoration – the red vinyl looks great and is free of damage, and the clasps for the windscreen header rail pull the top nice and tight for good weatherproofing.
Few automotive names are as appropriate for the car they reside on as Sprite and Midget - compared to even a modern roadster like a Mazda MX-5, these really are tiny cars! They’ve got appealing proportions though, and are full of personality – something that very much applies to BVG 325E.
The car was repainted in its original Old English White during its recent restoration period, a shade nicely offset by the red of the soft top and distinctive black detailing where you’d often find chrome back in the day – the bumpers, light unit surrounds, windscreen surround, mirror caps and grille all have a black finish. Door Handles and windscreen wiper arms remain chrome, while the Minilite wheels have a silver finish.
It’s all in very good condition, too. As is often the case with BMC vehicles the panel fit is a little approximate in places but importantly all the panels open and close as they should and everything is straight. The front bumper and rear overriders are in fine fettle (and their thick coating should help them resist stone chips) and all the light units are like new.
The 13-inch Minilite wheels are in good condition and they wear a full matching set of Avon Enviro CR322 tyres in 155/80 R13 size, and with plenty of remaining tread at all four corners. There is a non-matching spare tyre in the boot on a classic wheel. All the metalwork and paintwork in the boot itself is in very good condition, as is the filler neck for the fuel tank. Photos are included to show the condition of the underside.
BVG 325E uses a 1275cc A-series four-cylinder, with a few tweaks up its sleeve to give it a little more pep over a standard motor. As most of this work was carried out before the current seller’s tenure it’s unclear exactly what has been changed, but the seller notes a different cylinder head, alloy valve rockers, a high-flow single carburettor replacing the usual twin carbs, and a K&N air filter.
There’s also electronic ignition, an electric cooling fan to replace the old mechanical unit, and a stainless steel exhaust. The radiator and hoses were replaced during the car’s period of work, the dynamo overhauled, a new battery fitted, and a new voltage regulator equipped. Work to the running gear included new brake callipers, brake pads, brake pipes, a new master cylinder, new wheel cylinders and shoes, and new seals for the rear axle.
While a drive was not possible during the photo shoot, the seller reports the car drives very nicely indeed – it hasn’t been used for any grand road trips, but when taken out it’s given a good run to ensure everything comes up to temperature, and with so much replaced and refurbished it’s been problem-free.
There’s a reason cars like the Sprite were so popular back in the 1960s and 1970s - they offered proper sports car fun for family car prices. That remains true today, particularly as the values of many other 60s icons have soared. A good Sprite remains a car you can park in the garage and be proud of, but retains a relatively low cost of entry, easy maintenance potential and fabulous fun, particularly with the top stowed on a sunny day.
The seller also suggests it’s an ideal classic for a younger enthusiast thanks to those very qualities – a straightforward and enjoyable way into the world of classic cars. We’d concur, and this particular car, thanks to its recent restoration, easily-tuneable single carburettor and solid bodywork is probably better than most.
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