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


EAO displayed at Goodwood during the Sprite 50th celebrations (photo: Michael Meerlo)

Sprinzel Sebring Sprite ~ 410 EAO

Owned/restored by Jonathan Whitehouse-Bird - Competition Results

Built on 12.7.60, this Sprite was originally painted Iris Blue and registered on 18.7.60 as GUY 603 for its first owner Guy Wilson, a solicitor from Carlisle, Cumbria.  It was dispatched to the Donald Healey Motor Co. at Grosvenor Street, London, and converted to Sebring specification - Girling disc brakes, wire wheels, etc., for Guy to compete in motorsport activities at club level. 

The following year on 12.4.61 the car was re-registered 410 EAO and offered for sale by John Sprinzel Ltd., Lancaster Mews, London, and purchased by Andrew Hedges.  Part of the deal included the fitment of alloy coupe bodywork by Williams & Pritchard Ltd.  When completed, the car was painted metallic Healey Ice Blue with a dark blue stripe broadening to the width of the grille aperture, echoing that of a small number of cars racing under the Scuderia Light Blue banner.  Expert tuner Don Moore provided the race engine.

The cars debut event in alloy coupe form was the 1000 km race at the Nurburgring in May 1961.  With Andrew Hedges, and fellow team mate Bill McCowen sharing the driving, it finished 4th in class and 32nd overall.

At the end of a very full and successful 1961 season, the car was overhauled by Abingdon's Competitions Dept.  Once again, it returned to John Sprinzel Ltd. and was advertised in October 1961, for £1,150.  However, the Sprite was purchased by its next owner - Les Arnold, after noticing the car on its trailer and following it across London.

Les Arnold was the owner of a fleet of London taxis and competed with 410 EAO during 1962 and 1963, mainly in club events. He achieved great success with the car and as a result was offered a drive with the Healey Motor Company (sharing with Clive Baker), for Le Mans in 1964.  However, the invitation was declined.

In 1964, the car passed into the hands of Michael Barnett.  Unfortunately, during his ownership and while practising for a race at Oulton Park that year, 410 EAO rolled at Lodge Corner crushing the alloy roof and damaging the rear alloy panelling.  The alloy roof was deemed to be beyond repair and scrapped, but the rear alloy bodywork was repaired.  The car was repainted - still Ice Blue, but without the dark blue stripe.  A standard Sprite windscreen and glass fibre hardtop were also fitted.  Thereafter, it was sold to Michael Barnett's brother-in-law for use on the road.

At the NEC Birmingham Classic Motor Show in November 2008 a guy names Chris Milner turned up to reveal that he had previously owned EAO. Apparently he bought the car in 1965 (to be confirmed), after responding to an ad' in Autosport.  He paid about £430 for it from a guy in Manchester.  He travelled up from Plymouth where he was living, and returned home with EAO the same day. He was a member of Plymouth Motor Club and used EAO in club circuit race meetings for one season only. Following previous owner Michael Barnett's accident in 1964, the car now had a W&P/Speedwell type glassfibre hardtop painted in O.E.W. Towards the end of the '65(?) season, the engine went rough and was removed. A strip down revealed a crack in the F.J. crankshaft!  With no money for repairs the car was sold in bits and Chris Milner moved on to racing with Ford Escorts and later Capris.

By 1967, 410 EAO had made its way to Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, owned by Warwick Edgington and used occasionally on the road as a "fun, second car".  It was acquired by Graham Jacques in the early 1970s.  Its past history long forgotten, he employed it as daily transport until the winter of 1975, when he lost control on 'black ice' and struck a lamppost.

The Sprite then sat in the owners garden, exposed to the elements for 12 years, before being moved.  It was eventually discovered by Jonathan Whitehouse-Bird during November 1990, housed in a semi-derelict warehouse, when Graham Jacques offered the car for sale.

Over the next 18 years Jonathan meticulously rebuilt 410 EAO to its original 1961 specification.   Len Pritchard, of Williams and Pritchard, by then in his 80's was persuaded to make a new alloy hardtop for the car, and this was then fitted.  Its first registration - GUY 603 survives, currently on a silver 1979 Fiat X1/9 sports car. Former owner of the car, Andrew Hedges, sadly died in  2005.  

Having brought the car back to pristine condition Jonathan's work was done and, not wanting to race the car and it being unsuitable as transport for his young family he decided to sell the car and move on to other projects. Hence the car was placed with Gordon Elwell who obtaineCoys NECd its MOT and gave it a shake-down on the public roads before it went to auction at the Autosport Racing Car Show in January 2011. Although there was some enthusiastic bidding, and bids reached £77,000, at the end of the day the car remained unsold.


11th August 2011 ~ EAO has been sold to Jim Lowry of Equipe GTS fame who hopes to have the car out on the circuits shortly.

14 Nov, 2018: "Yes, it's a pity that EAO doesn't get much of an airing these days, but then again none of the highly-prized Spridgets do these days. We all seems to be wallowing in a sea of glassfibre and celebrating mediocrity instead of the truly historic! The restoration of EAO, attempted to recapture (completely) its irretrievable past as, sadly, the original monocoque was beyond saving - floorpan, inner sills (outer sills had been replaced with glassfibre copies!), boot floor, even the bottom 1" of the 'H' frame had all rotted away following 12 years of sitting in a very soggy back garden. In over 35 years of Spridget ownership it was the worst body I'd ever seen - even areas that never usual rot were frilly! :-( Initially, I cut the remains of the original bodyshell in half - along the transmission tunnel (the only thing holding the shell together), just in front of the rear spring hanger box section - in an attempt to salvage what had survived of the rear section - the front section was utterly shot! However, in consultation with Phil Kennedy, at Healey restoration specialists "Renaissance Classics", it was decided that the task of salvaging what still remained wasn't economically justifiable. Rather than resorting to a Wheeler & Davies Ltd. replacement shell, I did the 'correct thing' and purchased a genuine BMC, rot-free, Mk.I Sprite bodyshell from Murray Scott-Nelson's outfit near Scarborough, to retain historical accuracy and continuity, and ultimately, to keep EAO alive! Quite a number of original (detail) components, that had survived with the remains of EAO, were included in the final restoration and (contrary to what has been stated elsewhere in various forums) account for car being more than "just the original W&P alloy rear". Interior fittings, as well as the rebuilt original Girling brake calipers and mounting brackets were also included. Continous history - no matter how slender - was an important factor. Admittedly, everything else I used in the restoration was genuine NOS BMC stock (no compromise there either) and as to near 100% correct, 1961 spec' as anyone on the planet could get! Sure, I added my own 'improvements', such as the PMO 200/S 221 alloy framed type sidescreens, but I felt that was to the car's benefit. Some would argue that 410 EAO is simply a 'recreation', but from both a legal and historical standpoint (as in the case of Bentley "Old No.1") I started with the original car and by all means possible maintained continuous history. Had he survived to see EAO completed, the original owner - Andrew Hedges - would've agreed I'm sure! :-) I sold EAO in 2011 to Jim Lowry, who was made fully aware that the car had been re-shelled. He even viewed the remains of the original surviving monocoque and asked for this to be disposed of as he didn't want it. The remains were subsequently cut up and scrapped - taken to the local tip. [Jonathan Whitehouse-Bird]".

EAO at MonthleryAbove: Andy Hedges in the Montlhery 1000 kms , 1961.
Andy at Monthlery
and in the 1000 kms at Nurburgring, also 1961
Les Arnold 1963
Les Arnold in 1963
Chris Millner
Former owner Chris Millner
Arnold at Mallory
Les Arnold leads a GSM Delta at Mallory Park, 1963
On trailer
EAO on its trailer behind A40
In a paddock somewhere(?)
Simon and Adam Edgington with EAO about 1966 or 7
As found
As Jonathan found her in 1990
Restored shell
The restored shell
The motor
The motor comes together
Nearing completion - 2007
Angled shot
Raring to go!
At Goodwood, Sprite 50th
EAO with sisters
With her sister cars
Coys Auction
At Coys Auction 2011




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EAO's Competition History

Date Event Driver Co-Driver Class Overall
May 28 Nurburgring ADAC 1000 kms Andrew Hedges Bill McCowen 4th 32nd
Jun 18 Snetterton 100 Trophy Meeting Andrew Hedges   4th 6th
Jul 8 Silverstone BRDC 23rd British Empire Trophy Meeeting Andrew Hedges   2nd  
Jul 15 Aintree RAC British Grand Prix Meeting   Andrew Hedges   4th  
Jul 23 Snetterton Autosport Championship Race Andrew Hedges   2nd 3rd
Aug 7 Brands Hatch BRSCC Peco Trophy Andrew Hedges    3rd  
Sep 3 Nurburgring 500 Km [Team Sebring Prize] Andrew Hedges Robert Kuderli   4th
Sep 10 Urcy Hillclimb (Nr. Dijon) Andrew Hedges [class record:  2.04.00] 1st  
Sep 30 Snetterton BRSCC Autosport 3 Hours Andrew Hedges [lap record: 2.00.07] 1st  
Oct 15 Montlhery Autodrome, Coupe de Salon Mtg Andrew Hedges   3rd  
Oct 22  Monthlhery Autodrome, 1000 Km de Paris Andrew Hedges Bill McCowen 4th*  

*despite rear oil seal failure

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