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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

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1966 Targa Florio

EAC 90C

TFR 3 - open, later became TFR4 - coupé

To quote from Geoff Healey's book 'More Healeys':
"TRF 2 had shown a strong tendency to understeer, an unwelcome feature on the Targa Florio's twisty circuit. For 1965 we built another special, TFR 3, which incorporated subtle changes in the body design. The fuel tank was moved further back and lower down, and the inclination of the rear springs was reduced, lessening the effects of roll understeer. These modifications were sufficient to turn the car into the perfect candidate for the Targa's Circuito Piccolo delle Madonie - quick to turn into a corner, while giving good traction on the exit". It was painted light green, Dockers Docka-colour. The team was made up of drivers, Rauno Aaltonen and Clive Baker, supported by Geoff Healey, John Harris as mechanic, his brother Brian and Derek Blunsden. Unfortunately a sticking brake caliper delayed them for 15 minutes losing them the chance of a class win. The result:
1965 Targa Florio - #154 - Aaltonen/Baker - 15th, 2nd in class.

After the race Geoff often used the car on the road, sometimes driving it down to Cornwall and it became one of his favourite cars.
For 1966 the same car was converted into a coupé and re-named TFR 4 The idea seems to have come from Rauno Aaltonen who felt that a roof "would give greater protection in the event of an accident". The race was wet and when Rauno was driving he broke a wheel on a rock and knocked the axle slightly askew. Although the wheel was changed the next problem was a broken half shaft which Clive changed out on the circuit with help from some English enthusiasts. The result this time: 1966 Targa Florio - #208 - Aaltonen/Baker - 20th, 3rd in class.

Geoff Healey and his wife, Margot, travelled down to Sicily in EAC 90C on both occasions.

From John Baggott's book 'Mighty Midgets & Special Sprites' I learn that: "From 1967 to 1969, EAC 90C was seen at club events in the hands of Austin-Healey Club member Dudley Lucas..." He fitted a Sebring 997cc dry sump engine acquired from the Healeys. Dudley entered the car for the 500kms Mugello Grand Prix in both 1968 and 1969 sharing the drives with Arthur Appleby. In '68 they finished 16th and 6th in class after changing a wheel out on the circuit, but in 1969 after damaging the car in practice they were not allowed to compete in the race itself. For 1970, Appleby entered the car on his own. However "on Lap 4, going through the fast right-hander on the approach to Giogo, an Abarth moved over on him, catapulting the Sprite into a bridge parapet, putting him in hospital with a broken elbow and completely destroying the car" (John Baggott quote).

Dudley Lucas takes up the story: "I bought the car as raced but fitted with Dunlop SP tyres on a very good-looking set of magnesium alloy wheels from which the much less attractive Healey wheels were copied. It was fitted with the 1293cc dry sump engine and 4 speed gearbox. EAC did many UK club events, being part of the winning Sprite team in the 1967 6 Hour Relay and 1968 4 Hour Relay. It was also used on at least one occasion before it came into​ my possession because I was recently shown a photo of the car in pole position, next to John Willetts in the Sebring car, at Oulton Park and I have no recollection of this event at all - it would be nice to find out more*. The 1970 Mugello race crash was preceded by an attempt to sabotage the car. The day before the event Arthur was invited to move lodgings by some people attending the event, which he did. Then on the first lap he noticed the water temperature rise alarmingly, which had never happened before, and stopped at the pits to investigate. The radiator was empty, further scrutiny revealed that the Jubilee clip securing the bottom hose to it had been undone and was now hanging loose. The Sprite was hardly a threat to the big cars but would have stood a good chance in the class. Anyway the Abarth driver put paid to that. The car was broken up and​ the undamaged parts sold off although the unfortunate new owner of the gearbox had trouble with it as the force of the accident had distorted one or more of the shafts. The body went to a local scrapyard. I have in my possession numerous photos of the car, also the Healey works specifications, and several sheets of details which Geoff Healey gave me when I collected it. Hope this provides a more accurate history of EAC, ~ had it not been for that Italian moron I would still have the car today..."

From Dave Groves I learned that the dry-sump motor, Healey wheels and other mechanicals were built into another racing Sprite with a Sebring bonnet and DHMC Mk2 hardtop. Never registered for the road that car was eventually dismantled and the parts sold off.

EAC Mugello
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EAC Mugello


*Jonathan Whitehouse-Bird provided the answer to this one:
"Well, I'm pleased to say that I can hopefully put Dudley out of his misery (or worry him slightly) by saying that the driver of EAC 90C at the event in question: The MG Car Club's North-Western Centre, meeting at Oulton Park, on 30th September 1967, was none other than...
D. G. D. LUCAS ............ A.H. Sprite    1293 c.c.
EAC 90C was entered in Class B - 1151 to 1500 c.c.  Race #52
Dudley scored a 3rd in class / 4th overall". (Photo above right).

[My thanks to those who have kindly contributed photographs including Dudley Lucas, John Phillips, Karsten Stelk, Dave Groves and Ian Turner, and to Geoff Healey and John Baggott for parts of the text]

Page amended May 2017

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EAC
Under construction
KS 13
Ready for the Targa 1965
KS 1
The starteac
underway
EAC
The '66 start-line
eac
Jack Wheeler passes by KS 99

eac

Oulton
At Oulton Park with Dudley at the wheel, 30 Sept 1967 - 3rd in class, 4th overall.
EAC spec
Full spec' sheet (Click to view)