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 Post subject: Spridgets
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:53 am 
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I've been mulling buying a convertible for some time. We were given one as a rental when my wife's Corolla was in an accident and my daughter absolutely LOVED riding in it. I've checked out some modern cars such as Miatas and Solaras. While they are nice, they just seem so "antiseptic"...no character. I also looked at the 60's - 70's American "land barges" but my wife does not want to give up her spot in the garage for a monster like that. So, I started looking at some of the 60s - 70s English offerings.

I came across a 1969 Austin Healey Sprite for sale about 20 minutes from where I live. It appears to be in pretty good running condition and good physical condition. What's nice about the Sprite/Midget is that I can park it nose-to-tail in a single car garage with my wife's Corolla and still close the garage door. Owner is asking $5500, which seems to be an average price. Any English sports car experts / enthusiasts out there that can give me some practical advice (things to look for, warning signs, etc.)

I also had been looking at some old CJ Jeeps, but most of them are either rust buckets or overly modified.


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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:31 am 
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I had an MGB for a couple of years. Other than a blown head gasket, burst radiator and a small electrical fire it was pretty reliable.

These rust out very easily, so check it carefully for bubbles in the paint or evidence of repair/multiple coats of paint.

The standard of quality in this era was not high, so expect to do a lot of tinkering. They are however quite fun to drive, even if not powerful. Parts are inexpensive compared to other collector's cars. You can order replacement parts from places like Moss Motors if you can't find them locally.


Last edited by bdk on Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:36 am 
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Why not look into only American made sport car, there are lot convertible around in all kids of price range, and there lot of fun to drive, and meet people with or join club and cruise.
I'm talking about CORVETTE!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lfuQSa ... r_embedded


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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:38 pm 
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I don't think there are many Corvette ragtops in the 5k and under price point. The other selling point is that we can squeeze a Sprite into the garage with my wife's Corolla. I don't think the Vette is that small.

Like I said on the 60th Anniversary post...a Corvette is one of my "bucket list" cars, just not now.


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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:23 pm 
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The best thing to remember about British cars is to treat them like sporting goods, rather than transportation. Or perhaps like a light antique airplane to keep it closer to the nature of the forum. Expect to perform regular maintenance, irregular maintenance and continual upgrading, as you find performance parts that are cheaper than originals.

Buy several manuals for it. Start with the Haynes, try to find an AutoBook, and if possible factory manuals. Each and every one of them will leave out some critical bit of information, but collectively you're golden.

Invest in a UniSyn, and a ColourTune. Learn to use them both.

A .50cal ammo box, or tool bag of equal size will hold all the tools you need to take 95% of the car apart. Collect them, then PUT THE KIT IN THE CAR. Ditto a spare copy of the Haynes manual.

Remember that all classic British cars were built under Labour governments, and have a decided Socialist streak. There will be times when they will go on strike one a whim. Unlike Japanese cars, threatening them will not work, although, bribery, occasionally, will.

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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:13 pm 
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My first car was a Triumph TR-6. It was my daily driver for 5 years. It never stranded me. It threatened several times, but I recognized the signs and did the maintenance before it broke down somewhere.

Spridget engines and transmissions are robust. 40+ year old switches and wiring, not so much. Hydraulic seals get old, as do engine seals. Despite being from a wet climate, British convertible tops suck. They tend to leak and also require more hands than they should to erect/drop.

Make sure the car is rust free. Also, make sure it has 3 point harnesses. Finally, some of those old steering wheels are shaped to make mincemeat of your face in an accident. It might be worth replacing the stock unit with a more face friendly aftermarket wheel.

Great little cars, but listen to what they are telling you and give 'em what they need.


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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:30 pm 
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1bdvet wrote:
Why not look into only American made sport car, there are lot convertible around in all kids of price range, and there lot of fun to drive, and meet people with or join club and cruise.
I'm talking about CORVETTE!


Cool! I've never heard of one of those... :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:50 pm 
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Thanks for the advice. Tomorrow AM, I'm going up to take it for a spin and maybe make an offer on it.

The owner has three other Austin Healeys including a '59 Bugeye Sprite which has just been restored, and hence why his '69 Sprite has become expendable. Even though none of the other three are for sale, I did ask to be able to check them out.


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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:10 am 
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Took the car for a test drive. Wow! I had a hard time getting used to having the windshield right in my face, but it definitely was a heck of a lot of fun to drive.


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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 7:08 pm 
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I bought it!
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Sprite by onyxsax, on Flickr

Note the Bugeye Sprite and Austin 100 in the garage. The 100 is absolutely stunning.


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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:05 pm 
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Enjoy the new ride, and have many pleasurable cruises.

Save the Wave.

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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:05 pm 
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Kyleb wrote:
....Great little cars, but listen to what they are telling you and give 'em what they need.


This was the best piece of advice anyone has given me regarding LBCs (Little British Cars), and I'm not exaggerating that this advice may have saved my life:

I already knew going into the deal that the tires on the car were crap. However, when the car's right rear wheel began getting particularly vocal, I began looking into what was going on. I found the ride height on the right side was 1.5 inches lower than on the left side. I had misattributed this to bad shocks and bad tires. I decided to move up the date that I planned on replacing the tires to today.

When they got the car on the lift, they found the right rear leaf spring had split. Only one leaf was left intact and the body was hitting the tire, hence the "vocalizations" I was hearing. Had I kept driving the car and the final leaf let loose, it would have been very, very ugly.

I don't blame the seller. The car was not making those kinds of noises until I had driven it one weekend. Something just felt wrong, so I shortened up my ride and relegated the car to some very short hops thereafter until I could put tires on it. I definitely heard the car talking to me, I just lost a bit in the translation.

The net result is that my budget is completely blown, but at least the car will be safe, which is priceless.


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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:06 pm 
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Glad you are having fun with it. Springs are one thing that don't age well, especially when exposed to a corrosive environment. You might consider replacing the other side as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:24 pm 
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Here's the car after new springs and buffing / waxing the paint:
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DSC_0002 by onyxsax, on Flickr

I've now replaced the rear shocks, put a new top on the car, changed all the fluids, had a brake job done, tweaked the carbs a couple of times. And, I did put in the 3-point belts. The steering wheel has a nice padded leather wrap, too. The car is slowly, but surely, turning into a really nice driver. There's still a fair amount of work to do, but it's been a blast. My daughter really loves riding in the car. When I've taken her to her speech therapist in Westminster (about a 30 mile drive), she ends up have better sessions than she does when she rides in a "regular" car. It's been great for Daddy/daughter bonding. She even doesn't seem to mind riding "top up" during the winter, either.


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 Post subject: Re: Spridgets
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:25 am 
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That's what sports cars are all about!


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