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

 

Bonnets

A great variety of different one-piece bonnets have been created over the years initially as replacements for the heavy and cumbersome steel front of the Austin-Healey Sprite Mark 1 with its difficulties of access - most of them in fibreglass, and just a few in aluminium. Later they became a common replacement on all the various models of Sprite and Midget. Let's start with the:

Williams & Pritchard Sebring Mark 1

I was unclear as to who designed and first marketed the Sebring bonnet we all know and love, so asked John Sprinzel for some guidance. I had suggested that Costin was involved in its design and that Williams & Pritchard made it while Speedwell marketed it. This is John's detailed and informative reply:
"Martin. No sir, neither Speedwell nor Costin nor Healeys had anything to do with the Sebring Bonnet which I designed after Donald showed me the photo of the Mark Two Sprite prototype. In particular I wanted to keep the grille which we had not done on the Speedwell front. I took the drawings to W & P with whom I had worked on the Speedwell GT which was Frank Costin's design. They obviously changed it a bit to suit their production methods The alloy prototype was introduced while I was working at Healeys, on the November 1960 RAC Rally. The actual production versions and the full Sebring bodywork were produced after I bought the Speed Equipment division and moved to Lancaster Mews. I think Cyril Simson's S221 was the first and was raced at Sebring in 1961. Because the Speedwell didn't have much room for the right hand during quick correction movements, I got W & P to make the screen part a bit wider. We made the outline with me sitting in the car while they bent rods around me for the final shape, and we resisted the "fast-back" trend as Frank had always felt the cut back top was smoother and quicker.  W & P didn't start to sell their own version of the Sebring fronts until we liquidated the first company and were reborn as JS Racing Ltd. I still shudder at the thought that we had nowhere to store the replaced metal bonnets, and had to pay our dustmen a fiver each to take them away!"
[Speedwell did however offer the bonnet for W & P see right:]


Speedwell


Williams & Pritchard Sebring Mark 2

seen (near right) on Ian Grainger's car with rare W & P fastback hardtop, and (far right) on Denis Best's Lenham Le Mans in Australia where the bonnet was very popular. [Now marketed as the Ashley Silverstone (by Ashley GT) just to confuse everyone] .

Grainger
DBest


The Speedwell Monza Bonnet

This bonnet was produced by Speedwell Performance Conversions of Finchley, London. Designed by Frank Costin to compliment the stylish aluminium hardtop of the Speedwell it also was first made in aluminium. Production then continued in fibreglass (by Williams & Pritchard). Sales sheet, right:

The prototype Monza bonnet (one of about 6 made in aluminium) was used by John Sprinzel and Stuart Turner in PMO 200 on the 1959 Liege Rally (far right).


Ashley Laminates Bonnets

Ashley produced high quality fibreglass bonnets in three styles. The first was specifically for the Sprite Mk 1 and enabled the user to re-fit the standard radiator grille. On the right here is their early version intended for the Frogeye from which the original grille could be fitted.

Later came the Mark 2 with a wider grille opening and a raised centre bonnet bulge, as seen here on Shaun Rainford's replica of the John Britten Lenham Midget. [Not to be confused with the W & P Sebring Mark 2 bonnet.]

There was also a third bonnet by Ashley which ressembled that of an E-type Jaguar which I think (?) was like that on Tony Bending's car (bottom right).

See also the Ashley page.


Ashley

Ashley

Goodwood50


J Gedden of Manhattan Beach, California

made this bonnet back in the '60s.
[these photos sent in by Michael Satterfield
(Dec 2014)].

M Satterfield
M Satterfield

 

A.G.Thorpe

IV

Scothern GTO-22
A G Thorpe

McIlroy Bonnet

For some time I was unable to identify these bonnets but at least half a dozen have shown up in recent years. They also made a rear body section rather like that of the Lenham GTO.

AGThorpe
AGThorpe
AGThorpe
AGThorpe

 

The Kellison bonnet

Kellison bonnet

 

Dama Plastics.Inc

of Springfield, Pennsylvania, USA

Dama
denner
RJohnson Bonnet

 

The Pema bonnet:

650 FTX
650

 

The Lenham bonnet:

normal fitment to the Lenham GT, Le Mans and GTO though various other bonnets have been used. See the Lenham galleries.

Angelo Lenham
Holland Lenham