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

Sebring Sprite Latest News

News ~ November 2020

R.I.P. Gerry Coker

I was very sorry to read in the motoring press in the last few dayys that the designer of the Healey 100 and the Sprite, Gerry Coker had died at the grand old age of 98. We have a lot for which we are grateful to him. What an immeasurable amount of fun he has given to so many of us who have owned these cars over the last 70 years, and what splendid designs he came up with in these two British sportscars.


Dave Marriott awarded the Brian Archer Trophy for his new Sebring Fastback




With the Classic Car show at the NEC Birmingham being cancelled this year, I made the decision to award the Brian Archer Trophy established by the late Ian Ashfield, to Dave Marriott who is in the process of completing his new Sebring. Below is his story:

"I started the build in 2012 after I found a 63 Mk 2 Sprite walled up in a garage in Leicester. I was going to use this for the basis of the build, but after speaking to Gordon Ellwell one day who said he had a bare tub from a '59 Sprite with ID and loads of history (he got it from a deceased spinster's estate) and as I knew I was going to alter it from standard I decided to use this instead of the Mk 2. The tub was rotten and wanted a lot of work so I bit the bullet and ordered a new monocoque from Brian Wheeler. After a long wait (nearly 2 years) it turned out to be the last he did before retiring and selling up.
We moved house in April 2014 so the project was put on hold for quite a while. I picked up the tub in July that year along with a Sebring pedal box.  I then ordered the bodywork from Andrew at Archers Garage along with a pair of alloy doors and hinges. I picked them up from Andrew in Feb 2015 after the fire at Archers. First job on the tub was to weld in fixings for the roll bar and alter the tunnel and cross member to accept both standard gearbox or  a Datsun Rivergate set up I had found. While I was waiting for the tub to be made I had refurbished/rebuilt all the suspension, axle, petrol tank and steering ready for the rebuild. I’m not a bodywork man at all so I contacted Halls Garage at Bourne to see if they would fit the body onto the monocoque and prepare and paint it for me. This turned out to be a good move on my part as Jason at Halls had found some problems, mainly the alloy door fit on drivers side and bonnet alignment at the bulkhead.
He also said fitting the rear window was in his words “ a right B@%&ARD “. I finally decided (changed colour 3 times) on  Old English white with a red tartan stripe. Halls did a fantastic job on the body and paint and I love the colour.
I purchased a few bits from Peter May, rear link arms, front link arm kit , panhard rod kit, braided front and rear brake hoses and clutch and oil gauge pipe. I also got a pair of Peter May lowered rear springs and a 3.7 diff from Martin Ingall.The engine is a Marina 1300 bored to 1330, fast road cam & duplex timing gears, high lift rockers etc. with a 45 DCOE Weber on a Maniflow inlet and Maniflow exhaust manifold and system. The seats are Healey replica bucket seats trimmed in black with tartan red carpeting, finished off with a 15” Les Leston steering wheel. There are still a few tweaks in the pipeline to do but really chuffed with how it has turned out".

Congratulations Dave ~ a job well done and another fine Sebring to join the clan.

W & P


Asking price £300 on ebay
As so frequently happens this is advertised as an Ashley bonnet.



108 CPX

Glenn Castle drew my attention to this SEBRING BONNET FOR SALE ON EBAY
Buy It Now price £495 and Stated to be
"VERY GOOD, slight crazing on top of one wing but easy to sort with light skim of filler"


Falcon Sprite Update

I'm not sure that I ever published these photos of the Falcon Sprite (which raced at both Sebring and Le Mans) when its owner Roger Sieling sent them to me back in 2018, so here they are. It's good to see it back on its wheels after a long period in pieces and following Roger's unfortunate accident when it was on his trailer. Roger is now working on the Le Mans engine ready for it to be re-installed in the car, and he writes:

"Next spring I'm going to apply for a title and if it has to be inspected, I'll leave the screen as is until after the inspection. Then I will chop it off lower or maybe just remove it. What do you think of the JAP Magna wheels on it?
I took the original Le Mans block along with the 948 Mk2 autocross motor from my my old Bugeye to the machine shop that does my critical work, along with the Le Mans head and a new set of Hepolite PowerMax .060" over pistons, I've had on the shelf for at least 20 years.  I took the Le Mans block along so they would have it to model the eyebrows and duplicate them into my Bugeye block.  But, they said that Chevy 396 BB motors also have eyebrow cuts and they have sleeved many of them with no problems. So, they're going to sleeve the original block!. I'll have them surface grind the top of the block and and the mating surface on the head.  Re-assembly should then be a breeze. I have bought a set of the "Max Speeding" H beam rods for 1275 as I have fitted Carrillos into a friend's 948 vintage race engine".

All sounds very good Roger.


The Archers Sebring Makes a Comeback

A message received from Andrew Forster, formerly of Archers Garage:

"The Archer’s Garage Sebring Sprite is returning.
After too long an absence new Sebring parts are now available. Over recent years I have tried to produce a few parts in my spare time but unfortunately that time was insufficient to sensibly continue in production.
Some may know that since I closed Archers Garage in 2016 I have been working for Aldon Automotive. Aldons were a leading supplier of Sprite and Midget performance parts a long time ago and were responsible for designing and producing many that are still sold today. It was they who designed and produced the panhard rod kit fitted to many Spridgets over the years.
Aldon's principal, Alan Goodwin also owned and competed in the Targa Floria Sprite TFR 5 that is now in Japan.
Having worked closely with Alan, I decided it was time to bring back the Sebring so that people can have an a “second stage original" as John Sprinzel described it during the early years of its production.
The one thing that will be different from the early kits is that a logo will be laminated into the fibreglass. This is just a way of telling our kits from the copies and give the owners a little bit extra provenance.
Although the sales and distribution will be via Aldon Automotive the kit will always be referred to as the Archers Sebring as a mark of respect to Brian who made it all possible and as many are familiar with the name.
If anyone is interested in making their own Sebring then the contact information for Aldons is:logo

Aldon Automotive
Breener Industrial Estate
Station Drive
Brierley Hill
West Midlands DY53JZ
Telephone number: 01384 572553.
Email: link.

We look forward to hearing from you.
The pictures above show a new dashboard with the AK (Archers Kit) logo we will be using, designed by my brother Kevin who has been working with me making Sebring parts.
Andrew Forster".


News ~ October 2020

"Happy 90th Birthday to John Sprinzel! I just finished reading his and Tom Coulthard’s excellent book “ The Spritely Years”. Thanks for letting us know Martin. Pete Schumann"


Have a splendid celebration, John. We are all so grateful to you for your creation of the sensational Sprinzel Sebring Sprite Coupe which gives so many of us so much pleasure on a daily basis. Congratulations to you on all your great achievements in motorsport.
Aloha, Martin


"He just recalls a mould, and the bonnet being fibreglass. The whole car cost £350 at the time. It raced as Team Lido as the family owned a lido" (Andrew Clower) 

Peter Westacott wonders if the ‘Batman Joker’ bonnet on the Clower Sprite No. 29 might be a cut-back Alexander as on RAM 35?

J Clower
J Clower
J Clower
J Clower
A few stills from Andrew Clower's father John's YouTube film "Driving a Ferrari F40 at 80 years old".
I've not seen a bonnet like that one on his first Sprite before!


K Grasing
K Grasing
K Grasing

More from Ken - Aluminium/fibreglass doors:  "The difference of the door inner frames between the fiberglass doors and the all-aluminum doors seems to be readily detectable by members of the Sprite community.  It’s probably the number one noted deviation from the original cars, and it is not really attributable to required safety equipment.  I had elected to use the all-aluminum doors as I had thought they would be more durable, without recognizing the difference in appearance.  As we’ve not started the body and paint work on the California Sprite yet I think we’ll be able to use the all-aluminum doors on that car and mount the fiberglass framed doors on the coupe".

Dashboards: "The second most noted deviation is the dashboard, as we elected to use a full Frogeye dashboard rather than the abbreviated panel used in many of the coupes.  I had looked at the pictures of PMO 200 taken at Goodwood in 2006 and 2008 and thought the full dashboard made it look like a much more finished, complete, car.   If we find we need to lose weight we can always change to the flat panel dash, or replace the steel dashboard in alloy or fiberglass.   We did find the roll cage conflicted with the full gauge location which was disappointing, as I had wanted to retain the stock Frogeye flavor". 




I was recently contacted by David Lovegrove who is building a Sebring replica coupé. He bought the fibreglass panels from Peter May Engineering but they were unable to supply the laminated front screen (or the polycarbonate rear). I tried Andrew Forster (who has none at present) then Halls Garage who can supply at £179 + VAT (collected) and Pilkingtrons who want £497.75 + VAT + £25 carriage.
David's car's spec is: "partly MkIV and partly Sprinzel Sebring and will of course be different again for the finished car (whenever that might be - we’re hoping 2021!) particularly the kerb weight and therefore the 0-60mph time (hopefully as the bhp per ton should be over 120)".
He has obtained one of Graeme Jenner's Classic Car Portraits [see lower left image]
Prices range from £40 to £50 + p & p



"I've known Jack all my life as I lived next door to his parents in Cheam, and used to help him with his various cars even before the Sprite came on the scene.   I remember him taking me for a wild ride in his Bugatti Type 13 with a Brescia engine when I was only 4 or 5 years old in the mid 1950's. I helped with the 7080 ACGinetta G12 when he was building the Jerboa in 1969 and was part of the team when we took that car to the Targa Florio in 1970. Apart from Jack, I put in more hours than anyone helping in the rebuilding/ restoration work on the Sprites and ran the cars in at Dunsfold and Bruntingthorpe before we raced the car at Silverstone and Goodwood. I think that it's safe to say that Mr Wheeler was the main reason I got involved in motorsport, be it rallying, racing, sprinting and hillclimbs! all the best, John".

[Jack continues fit and well but, as he puts it "moving slowly".]



"Our last trip to Iowa, where the Sebring Sprites are located, was in mid-March, 2020.  K GrasingWe continue to work on them, albeit from a distance.  Still a few items to locate, still a few more engineering issues to sort through and still a few more historical details to investigate.  We have not yet received the FIA HTP’s for the three cars we had inspected last fall.  This is understandable, as the FIA is not an “essential” business and they are most likely not having staff in to complete these. None the less, it’s a bit disconcerting as we’ve invested a significant sum into the inspection fees and shop time to complete the applications.  Below are a few insights into the various ongoing projects:  
Alloy-bodied Coupe
The alloy-bodied coupe is largely complete, although I find we still have several items to complete to make the car truly track-ready.  We’ve deferred the purchase and installation of many of those safety items that carry an expiration date, as there was little point of seeing them go out of date limit while setting on the shop floor.  We are hoping to get a little private track time later this year to work on sorting out suspension and handling of the coupe. I suspect we’re over sprung in the backend, as it seemed a bit skittish during the couple of short road trips we’ve taken it on.  As you know we’ve done very little to publicize the car.  We’ve made one trip to the 2018 Sprite 60th Anniversary at Elkhart Lake, and one trip to the Austin Healey Club of America 2019 Conclave in South Dakota.   None the less, I’ve managed to garner a fair number of criticisms for lack of authenticity. I am, slowly, building a photo library of, what I call, rectifications.  Some of these details we can clear up fairly quickly, others might be down to a future owner.  In my defense; many of the deficiencies relate to either interferences with safety equipment, or interpretations of the original FIA Recognition form #47.  As I wasn’t out to create a museum piece, nor willing to compromise on driver’s safety, I’ve had to make decisions that may not meet others expectations. For example, while I would very much like to incorporate the twin SU fuel pumps that John Sprinzel had installed in the rear of the cockpit, the FIA looks unkindly on vinyl fuel tubing in the cockpit.  I have installed twin pumps, but they are safely tucked way in the FIA approved fuel cell.   In a future email I will catalog the choices we had to make in the build.
Standard-bodied Sebring Sprite

The red standard-bodied Sebring Sprite patterned, generally,  after XOH 276, is also largely complete.  There are a few wiring issues to be completed but otherwise the car is ready for suspension tuning and development work.  There are a number of long-term projects that I’ll need to address in the coming months/years:
* We had the pictures taken for the initial FIA HTP application with the DHMC hardtop fitted, but without the glass rear screen installed.  We had to resubmit the photos to the FIA with a rear screen in the hardtop, and ended up using a BMC hardtop, as we’ve found there is an issue with fitting the rear screen in my DHMC hardtop.  I’ve ordered several of the replica DHMC hardtops from Sven, but I think the long-term solution will be to locate one of the Universal Laminations / Denis Ferranti hardtops that are more appropriate for the July 1958 car.  Tom Coulthard and John Sprinzel have a photo of one of these tops on the front cover of “Spritely Years”, the photo being of PMO 200 during the Coupe des Alpes in July 1958.  Herve Chevalier has three more photos of PMO 200 taken during the ’58 Alpine in his work “Les Healey dans les Alpes”.  Referring again to “Spritely Years”, there are two more pictures, on page 39, of the Universal Lamination top fitted to PMO 200 with the nine-stud windscreen, this time for the 1958 Liege-Rome-Liege.  I do have the correct nine-stud windscreen frame for this car, but had the later windscreen frame installed to use the DHMC top. 
* I’ve finally found the answer to another bit of Sprite mystery.  Were you aware there were two rear axle casings (housings) for the AH Mk1, Frogeye, Sprite?  Part number ATA7329 gave way to new part number ATA7618 at chassis number AN5/4333.  We discovered one of the differences in the rear axle casings when offering up a narrowed axle housing and finding the rear shocks links wouldn’t meet the bracket on the axle casing.  Upon measuring we discovered the distance between the shock link brackets differs between early and late rear axle housings by ~1 in.  I’ve reached out to my contact, a specialist on Armstrong shocks, and he has confirmed there is a difference in the offset in shock arms of early shocks 2A7298/2A7298 and late shocks AHA5312/AHA5311 that would account for the almost 1” difference in bracket spacing.  The upshot of all this is that in a future project I will want to get the arms changed on the Armstrong adjustable shocks currently on the car and install the earlier axle housing so all the 1958 bits match up. 
* One further project being undertaken is to swap out the current C39 generator and RB106 control box for the uprated C40 generator and RB310 control box specified by Geoff Healey in ST 200 (1959 Sebring).  You’ll remember I had started trying to source the double bearing C40 generator with tach drive some years ago, before getting discouraged and setting it aside.  I’ve now got a much larger supply of generator parts so I’ll tackle it again.  I hadn’t previously realized that the change from the RB106 to RB310 control boxes is not a simple parts swap.  The RB106 is five-screw terminals, while the RB310 is three-screw terminals, so I’ve gotten an automotive electrical firm involved to create the appropriately modified wiring diagram. 
* I still want to fabricate the twin pipe exhaust system, as Geoff Healey had used on the 1959 Sebring cars.  There are still quite a few good pictures of the Butch Gilbert restoration that show the detail of the twin pipe exhaust system.  
Standard-bodied Bonneville Sprite
We still have to fit the blower oil feed, plumb in the oil cooler and finish the wiring.  I’m running a Setrab oil cooler mounted vertically along the R/H side of the radiator to mimic the period installation.  Some of the other details are described below:
The blue standard-bodied Bonneville Sprite has been, generally, patterned after the 1960 Alpine rally car of Tommy Wisdom and Jack Hay, 7080 AC.  Wisdom and Hay had run the car with the soft top, which makes further development of this car in the historical configuration really problematic. The Sebring Sprite falls into Period E of FIA Appendix K, with rollover protection recommended.  The Bonneville Sprite falls under Period F of FIA Appendix K, where rollover protection becomes obligatory.  I’ve put roll-over protection(ROPS) in both the alloy-bodied coupe and the standard-bodied Sebring Sprite, and in each case we’ve been able to fit it under the roof/top.  It’s just not realistic to get the ROPS under a soft top in the Bonneville Sprite, so we’re probably going to fit a DHMC replica hard top from Sven on the Bonneville.  We had used the DHMC top for the original pictures for the FIA HTP, until required to have rear screen installed, at which time we used the BMC top for the final pictures.  The Old English White hardtops looked quite sharp against the blue car, but I think I’ll go with a black finish, to approximate the Wisdom/Hay car.
* Period pictures of the 7080 AC from the Targapedia, John Phillips collection, appear to show a pair of Lucas HF 1748 horns mounted to the left of the radiator.  I’ve found one horn of the pair, still searching for the mate. The period photo also features a four-blade electric radiator fan, quite similar to the very early Kenlowe fans.  I’ve located a similar fan and we’ve built a bracket to accommodate the fan.  We’ll need to relieve the bottom panel of intake ducting in the bonnet, as the inner edge hangs on the fan motor.
* I’ve never located an interior photo of 7080AC taken during the 1960 Alpine, so we have been a bit liberal with our cockpit arrangement.  I’ve gotten the Halda trip meter installed along with the auxiliary panel, Shorrock boost gauge, electrical cut-off etc.  Currently trimmed in blue, but I think a darker, navy, blue would have been a better choice. 
California Sprite  
The shop I use here in Oklahoma City is basically a one-man operation, so I can go up there and work on the sub-assemblies we’re getting ready for the next build.  We socially distance in the shop, by standing at opposite ends of the building and shouting at each other.  We wear masks 100% of the time.  I tend to go in mid-morning and mid-week when there are few visitors.
* Right now, I’m building up the rear axle assembly for the ex-SCCA Southern California race car.  This is another MG Midget quarter-elliptical sprung wire wheel axle housing, so it won’t require narrowing, and there is some drilling of the brackets for lightening.  We’re using another set of the Girling backplates from the Riley 1.5 as base for the 8” x 1-1/2” rear drums.
* We’re going to use the next experiment in Girling rear wheel cylinders on this build.  As the 5/8” bore cylinders have become harder to locate I’ve had a few sets of the ¾” cylinders sleeved to 5/8”.  I had three sets of the ¾” cylinders one hand, and as they were of no use on the Sebring’s I thought it a reasonable use of otherwise dead stock.
* I’m trying to work out whether the double bearing rear hubs will work with the hand brake levers in the 8” brakes.  I’m told the extra width of the double bearing hub with interfere with the hand brake levers on the 7” brakes, but I’m hoping the 8” brakes might provide more clearance.
* We’re also looking at the aftermarket, high strength, axle shafts.  I’m not sure the large nut on the outboard end of the three-piece axle shafts will not interfere with the bolt-on splined adapters.

Have you spoken with Andrew Forster lately?   I was wondering whether he might have a set of the Sebring doors he used to make, the ones with the fiberglass innards and aluminum skin.  I could also use a set of the Speedwell inlets for the next engine build if he had any available.     

And, finally, two new mysteries for yourself and your readers!

  • I noticed, in the 1961 BMC Competition Catalogue, a close-ratio gear set I had not previously seen.  Listed as Q 2354A it consists of;   3rd speed gear 2A3299, 2nd speed gear 22A 37, Laygear (cluster) 22A 39 and 1st Motion Shaft (Drive Gear) 22A 40.  No information on actual ratios or tooth counts is given and the part numbers are different than those commonly given for converting the 9C gear box to, closer, Mark II ratios.  The 3rd Speed Gear seems to have come from an A30.  Any further information on this gear set would be appreciated.
  • While looking at FIA Recognition #26, for the Speedwell GT, valid 16 Nov 1960, I noted a gear box ratio with a first gear of 2.569:1, being offered well before the 2.57:1 first gear ratio finally listed on FIA Recognition #568 for the MKIV Sprite, valid 12 Jan 1967.   Further, looking at the tooth counts provided on the Recognition Forms it appears the actual gears used are quite different.   My original Speedwell catalogs don’t provide any further details. Again, any further information would be appreciated.
    Best Regards, Ken Grasing, Oklahoma, USA

    [A tour of Ken's cars back in November 2019, on Youtube]


G Elwell
G Elwell
G Elwell

  Gordon Elwell is offering this genuine DHMC hardtop for sale and wonders if any of my 'readers' may be interested? "It is a sort of 'barn find' and still has all it's original fittings including a very good/original glass and seal + OE rear deck seal + front seal too. It is only missing the side seals and fixing bolts....but all the OE mountings and screws are there. It is sound and damage free but needs prep / re-paint. I am yet to advertise it but would be looking for £1250 ex works".
If interested please contact Gordon at Classic Revival on 0115 9663762 or by email His website is:

E Moser
E Moser
E Moser
E Moser


Erick Moser asks "if anyone can identify the maker of these negative camber trunnions. Whoever made them had access to unfinished BMC castings, so are they a factory tuning part? Or could they be from one of the tuning companies back in the day? I haven’t yet done the calculations to verify that the “1.8” and “1.125” correspond to the camber angle they’d achieve, though I imagine this to be the case. Any help from your wise contributors would be greatly appreciated". Feedback please  

E Moser


Peter Jackson (of 46 BXN fame) bought this rather special Sprite at auction 5 years ago. Unfortunately his advancing years and the onset of arthritis are now preventing him from making good use of it. He is therefore reluctantly putting it up for sale. Soon after his purchase the car went to Paul Woolmer's restoration company where 100 hours of work were spent on it. It has had only limited use since that time. It is equipped with a Shorrock C75B supercharger and a Pema (Peasmarsh) bonnet. Peter is looking for offers around £14k. He is based in Cornwall and can be contacted by email.

650 FTX
650 FTX
650 FTX
650 FTX


Gordon Elwell has some and is looking for 2 more:
"I am always intrigued by the flow of information across your site and wondered if anyone can help me identify the source of the 4 off 5½J x 13"  'JCP' wheels I have. So far the only possible source may be JC Performance in Wiltshire, but the company doesn't seem to be old enough? Photo attached shows the 'Made in Britain' marking.....which probably dates them to the 1960's ? Ideally I need to find another two so I can use them on one of the race cars. Any help would be appreciated"
If you can assist please email Gordon using this link.



James Thacker reported to me last month that his very good friend Kim Johnson had died just 2 days after being diagnosed with lung cancer. James says:
"I don't think you ever met him but my very dear and close friend Kim Johnson died on Thursday evening very suddenly. We were both at Shelsley on 29th Aug and he won the historic sports and saloon class on scratch and I was  2nd equal Kim Johnsonwith someone else in a 2.0 litre Alfa. I have been in Cornwall for two weeks and during this time Kim became unwell. He went to the doctors on Tues 15th and was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and died two days later. I had known Kim from the late 1960's when we both had and raced our  MG TF's and then progressed to Spridgets. Kim did some circuits but then specialised in speed events particularly at his home venue Shelsley and Prescott and Loton. To my knowledge his time in his Midget up Shelsley in the 33 second bracket has never been achieved by any other Midget. [ I was in the 34 second bracket].  The only other A series production sports or saloons to do that time with an A series are 1400 cc Minis with  8 port twin cam heads and fuel injection. etc.  Kim had a conventional 1380 five port with split  Webers. Kim was very much the engineer who rebuilt TZA 238  with me and Kim being an engineer [ex Longbridge Austin  apprentice] and me the amateut; he was the major player by far. I cherish the memory of the many hours we spent together both in the barn working on cars and on the track". [Photo: courtesy of Zipp Photography]

LM cars


"The Ecosse car (lower left) appears to have inspired a similar shape Sprite front made in Sydney by JWF, who made a couple of glass-bodied cars, the Milano and the Italia.  In the photos (right) it’s been incorrectly identified as a JWF front and top but, while it has a JWF front, the hard top is J&S.  I’ve emailed the website to correct it, and to see if I can be put in touch with the guy that owned it at the time". 
[Photos courtesy of]

46 BXN


It's always interesting to learn more about a historic car's early history. Thus I was excited to hear from Andrew Clower last week when he told me that his father, John, bought 46 BXN from Frank Williams' receivers back in 1964.

46 BXN
The photo on the left was taken on 31st May 1964 at Mallory Park where John was overall winner and took fastest lap. He is seen leading the "Tatty Turner" which had previously held the lap record for several years. The right-hand picture is again of John Clower at the wheel also in 1964, this time at Caswell Park.
I am pleased to report that I have now taken delivery of a new PC which should considerably speed up my uploads to the website. The old one lasted nearly 20 years so it was unsurprising that it was beginning to tire.


News ~ September 2020

" I did take DA onto a racetrack again Friday gone. Jochen Schmitt had organised a trackday on Padborg circuit in Denmark. I had Martin Burhenne in the car talking me around the course - thank you Martin, again. When I got out on my final stint I manged to pass a Big Healey and pull away from him. Unfortunately towards the end of our session the driver's side front wheel hub (Lockheed PLC) gave up and put an end to my proceedings. Unfortunately I did not pay attention to Jonathan Whitehouse-Bird´s advice not to lose or brake anything of this setup because of the rarity of the components. So if anybody out there has a spare Lockheed PLC wheelhub and is willing to part with it I´ll have it".

Contact via Feedback

812 UYS - To which Mike Authers replied: "Hi Martin, Many thanks for passing this on. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to find out a date of when the steel bonnet was modified or if it had any connection with the J and S bonnet. I was emailing with Ray English but he’d no information. I’ve been unable to trace anyone who worked at Blackheath SA.  All I know is the first owner Ralph Clarke was the engineering director and did other steel bonnets and rear ends on normal BMC cars for their local market. There’s a slight confusion on the caption of white Sprite photo outside Stanley’s in South Africa. This isn’t my car.  I sent it to you out of interest as it’s taken days after the launch of the Sprite and the passenger is Ralph Clarke the original owner of my car. My car was produced until November 1958.   This white car has a standard steel bonnet and the brackets you spotted were for spotlights that are shown in another photo I have. Kind regards Mike, Mike Authers Classics Ltd"

And another from Peter Wescott to Mike Authers: "It appears I went a bit early, I didn’t realise the bonnet of 812 UYS was steel, not glass.  It is though the same shape as the J&S bonnet for which the earliest image I have is 1961.  I wonder which was the chicken and which was the egg?  Do we know when 812 UYS was fitted with its current front?  Maybe it was a Works prototype but then how did J&S come up with the same shape? Also, for what it's worth, we had a local competition Mk2A Sprite that also had a vacuum catch tank but it was discarded after a few events as it provided no tangible benefit.  It’s an interesting idea that’s supposed to let the engine rev more freely. By the way Martin asked about the brackets on the front of the car when it was still a Bugeye, it looks in that photo outside Stanleys that it’s a standard shape glass front, forward hinged (not T handle) so perhaps they’re part of the hinge arrangements? Best Regards Peter Westcott"

Peter Westcott to Mike Authers: "Looking back at some old posts on sebringsprite I saw Mike Authers’ Blackheath car 812 UYS with its fibreglass bonnet which isn’t unique but is now rare, it is an Australian J&S product.  Martin posted some J&S info on the website just a couple of days ago".

My apologies for the lack of updates during the last 6 days. This was due to my web hosting company having made some updates to their 'platform' after which I could not upload anything. Hopefully now remedied. I have added various notes on DHMC hardtop fitting, steering wheels, etc, some of these lower down the page in the August listings.

Hi, Martin.  I won’t be sending you every single thing about every single modified Sprite but I think this one fits in with the ’Special Sprite’ flavour of your site. It’s a piece (from Sports Car World Nov 1961) about the BRIAN FOLEY Mk1 that achieved third overall in the local GT championship in 1961.  The specialness is that the engine was built using Paddy Gaston’s bits, including a FJ cam, and the car is fitted with wire wheels, front disc brakes and larger rear brakes (possibly not Riley 1.5, which didn’t come to Australia, but the locally produced Wolseley 1500/Morris Major/Austin Lancer units) which could be Healey special tuning parts?  The body has alloy door skins, fibreglass bonnet, is fitted with a J&S ’Small’ hard top and the general presentation of the car is very much in the Special Sprite mould of the cars on your site. As far as I know Brian is still around but will be in his late eighties.  I think he’s still in Sydney so maybe one of your Sydney contacts could chase him down if you want to find out more about the car? Best Regards Peter Westcott.
Link to the story.



Dear Martin, Apologies if I'm repeating whats gone before on the DHMC wing nuts, I have modified some commercially available nuts that are not to far from the original. Attached is a word document that may help. ttfn...Alistair. See PDF attached.

And, from DAN PAUL: "I can't find any door seals for a Morris Minor that look anything like the seals on my DHMC or on your engineering diagram. Morris seals look like a completely different draft extrusion. Not saying it won't work, but doesn't have the same profile at all as the originals. I agree, having looked in more depth, with Sven's comments that its a rubber coated foam extrusion". 

From Andrew Musgrave: "I’ve taken some photos (below) of some of the fittings on my Hardtop. Some will be original but some may be aftermarket but are still old! I have also attached a photo of the side fitting bolts/machine screws that I have. On the right is an original, in the center is one purchased from Austin Healey spares several years ago and on the left is one currently available from in the US. The windscreen seal is an all in one design as on the illustrations already on your website, the rear deck seal is probably not original but worked. The headlining was thin yellow foam with a white channeled fabric on top. My hardtop number is 328 if you want to add me to your list of owners, keep up the good work, cheers Andrew Musgrave"

Rear deck seal
Rear screen seal
Windscreen seal

Hi Martin,The door seal and clips pictured in the article on the hardtop is the same as the original seal and clips on the Morris Minor, just in case the person who wrote the article didn’t know. Available in numerous colours from Morris Minor spares supplies. Regards Keith (Luck)

Collapsible Column
Coll Column


"Hello, Martin.  Perhaps some of your readers might be interested in the telescopic steering column a few of us are using in Australia?  It was an idea inspired when someone, in a competition incident some years ago, had the steering column push back into the cockpit and whack them in the (fortunately full-face helmeted) face with the steering wheel. It’s a simple arrangement using a Spitfire steering column with the Sprite splined end replacing the Spitfire arrangement at the rack end, in my case sleeved, pinned and welded by a proper engineer (he even had letters after his name!).  You need to fit a second clamp or something for the column to stop against to force it to slide, and the bonus is that you can move the steering wheel further towards the dash, affording some extra arm-swinging space.  (Oh dear, I’d forgotten how scruffy this car is!).
Best Regards, Peter Westcott."



J and S
J and S
J and S

Peter Westcott writes:
"Back in the day, in remote Australia, the standard race and rally grist to which UK readers were accustomed just wasn’t around, and we didn’t have the racing car shows where you might see a Sprinzel or Speedwell.  In the local mags you might get a report of an Alpine or Monte and a list of awards, but photos were few and far between.  Only those that stumped up for an expensive subscription to Autocar or Motor Sport got to see all the latest kit and event reports.  But, even if you knew what you wanted, actually buying and shipping anything was expensive, slow and risky so lots of stuff was produced locally based on what info was about, or maybe there was one DHMC hard top or W&P bonnet that was copied and copied and copied.
I’ve attached a period advertisement showing the Sprite options by J&S (a whole story in themselves), one a fast back GT and the other a standardish ’notch back’ shape which, very practically, used a VW Beetle rear window.  I've had both types in the past.  The GT, with moulded-in gutters, is similar to the Ashley but plainer, less ‘humpy' and extends further down to just above the number plate where it’s secured by the number plate light plinth.  In the day it wasn’t uncommon to cut the rear deck right back when a GT was fitted.  J&S also did bonnets (by the look of the axle deflection in that racing Sprite in the ad he’s really committed!)  and the bonnet on the car in the ad is a familiar style but the head lamps are slightly recessed back into the guards.  This image of Seb Petralia’s car shows the pleasing, very neat combination of bonnet and GT top.  I’ve also added a couple of shots of my (long gone) Bugeye GT*.  You used to see a few of the GT tops around but now in Australia there are probably more ‘Sebringesque' recreations than J&S GTs!  Thanks and keep up the good work!

*[Chassis 49812 so very, very late production, probably ’61, and it still had its original factory paint and interior.  I used to rally it, with some success, complete with its original, standard engine and gearbox.  Yes, the rear window is missing in one of the shots, the front screen had been shattered and removed so the rear screen was popped out to stop it from being blown out.]  "


Earlier items can be found at News 2020, News 2019, News 2018, News 2017, News 2016, News 2015, News 2014, News 2013, News 2012, News 2011 or News 2010

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