Dedicated to the memory of the late Brian Archer who fulfilled his dream to re-create John Sprinzel's Sebring Sprite Coupé

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Article from Classic and Sportscar , October 2006
with thanks to the editor for permission to use it here.

1413 WD ~ formerly 8427 UE

The 'Ecurie Ecosse' Team's Le Mans Sprite

This lightweight Sprite was built by the Donald Healey Motor Company for the 1961 Sebring races, fitted with a unique hardtop designed by Les Ireland, and registered 8427 UE, on 1st March, 1961. It was driven in the 4 Hour race by the American, Walt Hansgen, who brought it home 3rd behind the two leading Abarths. It was also driven, as a prototype, in the 12 Hour race by Joe Buzetta and Glenn Carlsson, the car then coloured Iris/Healey Ice blue and with standard Frogeye-shape bonnet.

Two months later, the car was re-registered by the Healeys as 1413 WD and re-painted in midnight blue for the Ecurie Ecosse team to take to Le Mans. It was also fitted with a more streamlined alloy bonnet very similar to that of 8426 UE, the "Roadster". Drivers for that event were Ninian Sanderson and Bill McKay, but the latter rolled the car at White House only a few hours into the race, during a sudden rainstorm. The car was extensively damaged and, after the event, the Healeys sold the car to Roy Lane who, according to John Baggott's book "Mighty Midgets and Special Sprites", straightened the shell and fitted a fibreglass hardtop and standard Frogeye bonnet. He campaigned it in a number of club events in the UK. The car later passed to Richard Groves, and then to Arthur Appleby who fitted it with an an Ashley bonnet. Appleby achieved several 1sts, 2nds, and 3rds as well as being part of the 1967 winning team at the Birkett 6 Hour Relay at Silverstone in 1967. The car was eventually retired, its parts gradually used on other chassis before the bodyshell was sold for autocross. By the '90s the rusted remains had somehow made their way to the States and the owner (Ron Scoma) was offering to sell the identity for sale to the Sprite fraternity back in the UK.

1413WD-2 1413WD-11 1413WD-12

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Dick Skipworth's Re-Creation of 1413WD

Not, of course, the original car but a very good imitation of it, the new alloy bodywork has been beautifully crafted by Lynx, on to, I believe, a re-imported dry-state shell. A small detail, the swage line above each of the side windows has been omitted but otherwise the car looks every bit as the '61 version did. The registration number, and I believe the Healey chassis plate from the original car lend authenticity. Dick has entered the car for several races in recent years including the Goodwood Revival and at Angouleme. It is often seen at shows and is carried on Dick's original Ecurie Ecosse transporter.

Sold at Bonhams' auction on 1st Dec 2013, the car was bought by Dick's son, Nick, so keeping it in the family. It achieved £54,000 plus buyer's premium. Nick recently (Mar '14) displayed the car at the MG & Triumph Spares Day at Stoneleigh (below).

1413 WD
MG Spares Day
1413 WD

8427UEWalt Hansgen prepares to drive 8427 UE at Sebring 1961

1413WD-1Re-registered at Le Mans1413WD-3
Its distinctive hardtop
Arthur Appleby in the Ashley- bonneted 1413 WD at Castle Combe in 1966.

The new 1413 WD at the Goodwood Revival
Skipworth leads Stubbings through Maggotts.
On top of the original transporter at Midget 50
Ecurie Ecosse

Ecurie Ecosse

Ecurie Ecosse
The above 3 photos kindly supplied by Richard Tague of Peter Best Insurance.





With acknowledgements to Geoff Healey, Tom Coulthard and John Baggott