Well, I'm back from my first inspection of a real, live Sprite. I
to thank everyone who responded to my calls for help last week. I thought
I would report back to the list about the visit, as I won't be buying the
car, but though someone on the list might be interested.
Here's the add that caught my eye:
"1959 Austin-Healey Sprite; For restoration or parts, includes a Judson
Supercharger. White, $2000. 304-354-7931."
The gentlemen who is selling the car (Mr. Cunningham, I didn't catch his
first name) seems to be a nice guy. The car is located outside of
Grantsville, West Virginia. This is a very small town about 100 miles
south of Morgantown, WV, and maybe 50 miles north-north-east of Charleston,
WV. This was the first Sprite I have looked at, so if I call a part wrong,
be gentle in your correction.
I was somewhat surprised when I got there to see two cars. He is
all the cars and the parts, to make way for a project car his kid will be
interested in (a 1969 Barracuda was mentioned). The first car is a 1959
Sprite (Vehicle Number: H-AN5-4307; no number on the engine - he admited it
wasn't original, but said it was a 948) in repainted white with some murals
on the hood and trunk (remember devil's tower from Close Encounters of the
Third Kind...you'd have to see it to believe it). There was extensive
surface rust over a good bit of the underside, wheel wells, engine
compartment, interior and spotty bits on the body itself. There was no
interior of any kind (no seats, carpet or anything). There was a shift
boot, and a dashboard (which looked like it was recovered in mattress
padding...what does an original look like?) with full instruments. I took
an awl to some of the important spots, and surprisingly they were
relatively sound. The rear spring boxes were solid (surface rust), as well
as the front and rear shock towers (surface rust). The doors were the
most serious problem. Neither opened all the way, with one having about
six inches of travel, the other about two. The hinges were completely
shot. The windscreen (is that what it's called?) was lying next to the
car, but looked in good shape. There was no "Sprite" emblem on the trunk.
The hood (bonnet?) was held up by a 2X4, and also was solid except for
extensive surface rust on the top and underside. The engine and engine
compartment were not tremendously rusty, and all the parts were there
(though not attached). Radiator and fan looked in decent shape, gearbox
was attached (didn't try to move the gears around).
The car had been stored in a shed (unheated) since 1975 or so, and last
ran around 1980. He had been intending to restore it, but hadn't gotten
around to it.
In addition to the white Sprite, there was a second car included in the
deal (not mentioned in the add). This one was in considerably worse shape,
as it had lived outside, with only a slowly deteriorating tarp over it for
15 years. This second car (Vehicle number H-AN5-32601, Engine number
10CG/DA/H2945) had significant top rust (I could see the ground underneath
the car through the holes), and was clearly a candidate only for donor
parts or a very expensive complete restoration. There were, however, some
decent parts on this car. As mentioned, there was an engine; beyond that,
he claimed the shocks were new when stored (15 years ago), a gearbox,
seats, a dash (wood?), full instruments.
In addition to the two cars, he has several boxes of parts. There is a
Judson supercharger (looks in OK shape, but couldn't really evaluate it), a
total of three hoods, three grills, at least one set of outside mirrors,
most of the lenses for lights and turn signals, a badly worn cloth top, and
many, many other parts.
This was too much of a project for me (I can do mechanicals, but I
recognize that bodywork is beyond me, and this was some serious bodywork),
so I thought I'd pass it on. All the parts looked weather-worn, but not in
"trash" shape. He clealy has at least one complete car there, but it's
certainly a bunch of work. He was very up front with me, and wasn't upset
at all that I wasn't interested. He's had it for sale for three weeks, and
I was the only visitor so far, so he might be willing to deal...
I want to thank everyone again for the help they gave me so I could
evaluate this car. I will continue looking for a Mk1 Sprite that is more
to my abilities, and am sure I will fire some more questions to the list.
If anyone has any questions about my visit, I'd be happy to answer them.
He really did seem like a nice guy, and the car does need a nice home. It
looked sad sitting there...
Thanks again. Sorry for the long post, but I though someone might be
1993 Mazda RX7 R1
and a sprite, sometime in the future...