1992 Austin Healey Frogeye Sprite - Banham Sprint Mini For Sale
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|Just arrived in part exchange; an eye-catching Banham Sprint, an Austin-Healey 'frogeye' Sprite recreation. |
At a glance:
- 1992 Rover Mini based Banham Sprint in the style of the 1958-61 Austin-Healey 'Frogeye' Sprite
- MOT until June 2021
- 13" Austin Healey wheels with hub caps
- 998cc (carb) petrol engine with manual gearbox
- Rosso Rubino paintwork
- 69,523 miles
- HPI clear
Banham Conversions (Banmoco) was a maker of kit cars from the late 1970s until 2004. The company, based in Rochester, Kent, was founded by Paul Banham who started off building convertible conversions on commission. He made convertible versions of the Ferrari 400, Aston Martin DBS and V8, and the Rolls-Royce Corniche. By the 1980s, he was marketing a kit to rebody the Jaguar XJS. He also offered convertible conversions for the XJS and Jaguar XJ6. The Banham Spyder (since the 1980s) was based on the Skoda Estelle and Skoda Rapid and was inspired by the Porsche 550 of James Dean fame. In the 1990s Paul Banham also bought the original bodywork tooling for the Ford RS200 and used it to make kits based on the Austin Maestro (preferably the MG Maestro Turbo version). In the late 1990s he had moved into making Rover based kit cars. Kits based on the Mini were the Roadster (which converted a Mini into a two-seat roadster) and the Sprint (inspired by the Austin-Healey Sprite). Kits based on the Rover Metro were the Banham X99 (looking very much like the concept car drawings of the soon to be released Audi TT). After some intervention from VAG over the origin of its design this was later revised slightly to the Banham X21 (looking a bit like a Nissan Figaro and Audi TT), the Banham BAT (based on the X21, but with a futuristic styling), the Banham New Speedster (inspired by the Porsche 356 Speedster), the Tiger (inspired by the Sunbeam Tiger) and the Banham Superbug (a modern interpretation of the Mini Moke).
This particular car is a Banham Sprint, which was a 1990s Austin-Healey Sprite replica, based predominantly on a Classic Mini. The kit uses the original chassis floor, subframes, engine and other mechanicals, so is classified as a 're-body' which enables the vehicle to retain the original VIN and the 'J' prefix registration, and the body style was changed on the V5c at the time to convertible. The previous owner assembled the car and put it in for an MOT in June 2020 which it passed with only one advisory: front tyre/wheel protrude beyond wheel arch (both).
According to the previous owner it has a 998cc Mini engine and gearbox (centre oil pick up pipe fitted and 3.76 final drive) that was stripped, thoroughly cleaned, checked and rebuilt with all new gaskets and seals and fresh coat of BMC green. Additionally fitted with a stage 1 tuning kit with electronic ignition installed within the standard distributor. The bonnet opens forwards, secured neatly with Triumph catches at the rear but can also be quickly removed when required. The rear subframe is the standard Mini part with adjustable ride height kit fitted. Spaced drum brakes with longer wheel studs and additional spacers to clear bodywork. Front subframe is a modified Mini item, allowing the engine to sit lower and further back in the car (required due to the low bonnet profile). Front brakes are reconditioned servo assisted later 8.4” Mini items with new discs and pads fitted. Hubs were refreshed with newly shimmed balljoints and re-greased. Adjustable ride height suspension is fitted along with adjustable tie bars. Genuine Sprite wheels refurbished with 'AH' chrome hub caps fitted. Black MGB seats are fitted to adjustable runners and black carpet fitted. Dashboard is Sprite style with similar looking speedo and rev counter, MGB Smiths combined oil pressure/water temp gauge fitted. Shortened Mini gear lever to suit with Healey Sprite gear knob. The boot houses the new high mounted Mini van fuel tank, with locking 'Aston' style flip filler, battery and plenty room for spare wheel and few other items. Hundreds and hundreds of hours of painstaking labour went into creating this unique vehicle, and it's a testimony to the work and commitment of the previous owner.
Please note there is no hood or side screens with the car, however it would be simple to install an MGB or Sprite tonneau cover if you want to leave it out in the rain. In fairness, the hoods on Sprites, MGBs and Spitfires were barely waterproof when they left the factory, so garaging any car of this era is always recommended.
The body was painted many years ago in a Ferrari 'Rosso Rubino' colour which actually looks very period-correct for both the car and the era, as they were originally manufactured in burgundy. The paintwork was carried out many years ago and since there it has picked up a great deal of 'patina'. Some like this look, as it appears to be a 'survivor' car from 1958-1961, having been well used over the years. It's most definitely not concours, and personally I like that faux originality look to it. However, the next custodian may decide they would prefer it to be resprayed and improved, perhaps to one of the light pastel colours of the era? The choice is to enjoy it 'as is' or to change the cosmetics to suit the taste of the next owner. If I were keeping it, I'd probably retain the current paintwork and go for a road rally spec, numbers on the sides, fog lamps, leather bonnet straps, toast rack luggage carrier with spare wheel, etc. Inspired by the 1959 and 1961 Rallye Monte-Carlo Frogeye Sprite entrants
Pros and Cons:
Advantages over the original genuine Austin-Healey Sprite include:
- Bodywork and doors are fibreglass so cannot rust.
- Mechanicals are all Mini so parts are readily available at low prices.
- Bodywork is lighter weight than steel, so this weighs much less than the original car, or the original Mini for that matter.
- The original car (with 948cc Morris Minor engine) was pretty sluggish a quoted 0-60mph time of 20.5 seconds! (The Motor, 1958)
- This stage 1 tuned Mini 998cc engine will do that in more like half the time!
- Original Frogeye Sprites are all £15,000-£25,000, this is under £5,000!
As with any modified, rebodied or 'kit car' they were never the same as a mass produced vehicle, therefore they will need more perfecting, fettling, upkeep and repair than standard production vehicles. So mechanical knowledge and a tool kit is really an essential prerequisite to ownership. There will always be jobs to do, areas to improve and things to fix, but that would be true of even the original A-H cars from the 1950s! This is an homage to the original, but please be aware that it is a not as good as the original, but this is mitigated by it being not nearly as expensive as the original..!
Austin's 4 cylinder inline petrol engine, the A series, is one of the most common in the world. Launched in 1951, production lasted until 2000 in the Mini. It used a cast-iron block and cylinder head, and a steel crankshaft with 3 main bearings. The camshaft ran in the cylinder block, driven by a single-row chain for most applications, and with tappets sliding in the block, accessible through pressed steel side covers for most applications, and with overhead valves operated through rockers. The cylinder head for the overhead-valve version of the A-series engine was designed by Harry Weslake – a cylinder head specialist famed for his involvement in SS (Jaguar) engines and several F1-title winning engines. British Leyland decided to update the A-series design in the 1970s, at a cost of £30 million. The result was the 'A-Plus' Series of engines. Available in 998cc and 1275cc, the A-Plus had stronger engine blocks and cranks, lighter pistons and improved piston rings, Spring loaded tensioner units for the timing chain and other detail changes to increase the service interval of the engine. More modern SU carburettors and revised manifold designs allowed improvements in power without any decrease in torque or fuel economy. Many of the improvements learnt from the Cooper-tuned units were also incorporated, with A-Plus engines having a generally higher standard of metallurgy on all units, where previously only the highest-tuned engines were upgraded in this way. This made the A-Plus engines in 1980-1992 Minis generally longer-lived than the standard A series as found in previous versions. The 998cc version as found in this car was produced from 1962 - 1992, being first introduced in the MK II versions of the Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet, before becoming common fitment in the mainstream Minis. It starts eagerly, runs well, and still feels very lively. This car benefits from being lightweight, plus a stage 1 kit coupled with an SU hif38 carb, which gives it significant extra poke in comparison to standard Minis, particularly with the weight reduction.
The car has an MOT until 3rd June 2021 with only one advisory: front tyre/wheel protrude beyond wheel arch (both).
It's hard to put a price on exclusivity. This is the only Sprint available in this specification, and there are only a handful on the road. You'll never find a matching one anywhere else, and it's not an easy task to own a car unlike any other on the road. But unlike other very rare, exotic and exclusive vehicles, ownership of this Mini based Sprite recreation is straightforward as all of the parts are easy to find, as it is all still standard Mini mechanicals. This is a great opportunity to own a car that looks like a £20k classic & iconic sports car, for a quarter of the price.
Please note that part exchange vehicles are sold at either cost price or below, they are always very popular due to this competitive pricing, and due to the high volume of enquiries we receive regrettably we cannot always satisfy numerous requests for additional pictures of the inside of the screenwash bottle, suspension bushes, rubber grommets or boot crevices. In our experience, buyers who are most keen will come to view in person. As it has not been inspected we are unable to give any indication of the mechanical condition, so it really is the buyer's responsibility to examine and ensure they are happy with condition prior to purchase. We always welcome any inspection.
Terms and conditions of part exchange clearance vehicle sales:
This vehicle is advertised and sold as a 'part exchange to clear' with no warranty given or implied, and due to the age and mileage is therefore sold as a 'restoration project' and for spares or repairs. These part exchange vehicles don't undergo the same inspection and/or preparation for normal retail sale - so they are sold as untested at well below market value. It starts, runs, and stops and has a current long MOT but we recommend all part exchange vehicles are checked by a competent mechanic before being put to use. A current MOT is not a guarantee of roadworthiness, so it is the responsibility of the purchaser to ensure the vehicle is roadworthy prior to being driven on the public highway. Due to the age and mileage, it is not possible to offer any warranty via our third party warranty provider. Pre-owned vehicles will have defects, so you are encouraged to inspect thoroughly prior to purchase to ensure you are satisfied with the condition of the vehicle prior to purchase. Please allow for the fact that you will have to make future investment for repairs or renovation. Mileage on cars pre 2006 cannot always be verified. A written copy of our terms and conditions will be supplied prior to your commitment to purchase, and you agree to these terms and conditions at the time of sale. Further details provided upon request.
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