Sprite Mk1 body tub restoration

Austin-Healey Frogeye Sprite: restoration update

We bought this Austin-Healey Frogeye last year as an unfinished amateur restoration project. It had benefited from a 1275cc engine and ribcase gearbox upgrade - features that make these early Sprites a lot more pleasant to drive. All rebuild work had been professionally done and many new parts were used, but the quality of the body work was poor. Upon further inspection with a paint thickness gauge, it looked like the Healey had just been primed and painted, without traces of excessive bondo. A heritage certificate revealed that the original colour was Old English White, a lot better looking than the horrible tone of yellow.

Austin-Healey Sprite Mk1 engine bay Austin-Healey Frogeye Sprite

Time to strip the little Sprite down completely. Our mechanic Joris took the drivetrain out and bagged, labelled and boxed every other part that came off the body tub. Paintwork on the outer body panel was stripped chemically, to reveal nothing but solid metal, with just a few repair sections that needed attention. We then took the front suspension and rear axle off and placed the car onto a dolly.

Austin Healey Sprite restoration classic car paint stripping restoration

Austin-Healey Sprite restorationFrogeye Sprite drivetrain

We want to turn this Sprite into a functional, high-level driver quality car, not a concours winner. The previous owner replaced the floor boards with straight sheet metal, not the correct corrugated reproduction panels. Cutting everything out and doing it all over again would go too far on a car like this, so I made a compromise between detailed looks and functionality. All welding work was checked and improved where necessary. I did take my time to weld the original BMH jacking points back in, and used a plasma cutter to make holes in the outer sill panels.

Austin Healey Sprite jacking point Sprite Mk1 body tub restoration

In the next few weeks we will continue to work on the body tub in our freshly renovated body shop.

 

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