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Richard's Frogeye Sprite, 1961.

Richard dropped me a line and jotted down the potted history of his Frogeye Sprite, built in 1961. He's on the lookout for a suitable steel bonnet to fit his Mk1 Sprite, so if you can help, and are able to ship to Australia, please get in touch and I'll forward your details on to him.

Frogeye Sprite
"My '61 Bugeye Sprite and I have owned each other for some 37 years. I am the third owner - and knew the second owner well. We used to go for drives in a group - top down, enjoying the great Melbourne summer weather.
It was daily transport into an inner city school where I was an art teacher. A year or two later my wife and I drove through SE Oz (Melbourne-Canberra-Cooma in the mountains - and back to Melbourne via the coast), all in six days during our winter. Some of this was through a mild snow storm on dirt roads!! I was scraping mud from the chasis rails for months afterwards. We were grateful for the engine heat coming through the floor and gearbox - bungs removed of course.

Some years later, whilst still used for regular transport and club competition meetings, I noticed that rust had set in in the usual places (lower body sctions, sills etc.) and decided to give it a makeover. I dutifully rubbed it down to bare metal after taking it all apart, and then gave it to a panel beater, only to find that the "repairer" thought my uncle was Bill Gates! Needless to say, I re-posessed it pronto after some good money went his way for not much work.

The car languished in the garage (as a storage cupboard) whilst my children grew up - no spare money for cars then .... probably 20 or more years passed and I met a local panel beater who was English born and trained. He raced Hillman Imps, no less, and seemed to be building cars for racing and the odd bread 'n butter job. We became quite friendly and I asked whether he would finish off the Sprite for me. "In due course'" he said. . . . then a year or two later he was ready for it.

I gave him all the boxes of bits and in about three months, I took possession of my immaculate Bugeye.

Would you believe, 12 months after taking delivery and driving it only on fine days (the hood had not been on it yet), two kilometers from home, one summer afternoon, a woman driver made a right hand turn in front of me (illegally, according to the attending Policeman) and left me no room to avoid a smash. The bonnet was dinged on the left side and looked to be too wrinkled for repair. I was heartbroken - especially as other than the radiator needing to be recored, the car was drivable!

I have made enquiries from some repairers ("restorers", as regular panel shops don't get involved in such jobs these days), and find that one may take on the job provided I can source the required panels. The good news is that I have found a fibreglass "Sebring" bonnet close to home and will probably go with it for the time being. I do intend to get a good (new?) metal one when and if I can find one. I believe that 'after-market' repair panels are available in UK."

Thanks for the story Richard! can any Frogeye Sprite owners in the UK suggest places to source replacement panels, and, equally importantly, vouch for their quality and fit? so many pattern repair panels are a hopeless fit, so personal recommendations for this kind of thing go a long way. If anyone can help, please drop me a line via the contact page and I'll forward your details on.

Austin Healey Sprite
Bugeye
Other stories about cars owned by visitors to oldclassiccar can be found on the Your Car stories page. Period photographs of Mk1 Frogeye Sprites can be found on this page of the vintage photo section.

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