Tom W

Julia's "MY CAR "

A lot of people questioned my purchase of a 1958 Austin Healey Sprite. You see I was born 15 years after the last Bug eye was produced. Being 6ft 4” and somewhat fat doesn’t really fit the profile either. But my interest in 50’s, and 60’s sports cars started as a youngster. I was born into a family that spent the 60’s and early 70’s sports car racing. When I was born all Dad’s racing fun stopped. I blame it on the oil crises and a weak economy, but my Dad blames it on me. Either way I had entered a racing family and at Holidays and other family functions they would tell me tales of racing. One of my favorites was my uncle entering Moss Corner in a GT350 (5a) at Mosport and seeing my aunt’s Cortina on its roof! He slowed to make sure she was ok, and then continued. As a young boy I enjoyed every story and they were my hero’s!

I purchased this car in a semi-assembled state in early 2013.Most of the parts needed were in one box or another. It just had to be put back together.I trailered it to my mid-town Toronto condo garage where I assessed the project and quickly realized this was not going to be a weekend job. Upon its arrival I had to show it off to my wife Megan and 21 month old daughter Julia. No seats, so I lifted Julia up and she stood behind the wheel. “MY CAR” she says as she sawed the steering wheel back and forth. For the next month or so while the car sat in the underground waiting for spring so it could make its way up to my parents’ home. A nightly routine started. After dinner Julia and I would go down to the underground so she could see her car.

Growing up with more interest in races cars rather than show cars I wanted to restore the car in a way that it would have modified in the mid 60’s for performance road use. This being a very early production Bug-Eye I wanted to make sure everything could be put back to the way it was produced in 1958. From the outside the car looks pretty much the way it left the factory in the very lovely Prim Rose Yellow. The exception's being the missing front bumper, and leather hood straps that hold the now forward opening hood. It even has the early 58 windshield (which are very hard to come by) and not reproduced. Under the hood is a later 1275cc Sprite motor, weber carb, and reinforced gearbox. Front Drum brakes have been swapped out for later Sprite discs. Last summer the car was put back together for the most part by my father (thanks Dad) and on weekends I would join him. Without fail Julia would wake up from her afternoon nap and walk out to the shop to check on progress. Late September the Spite was completed and ready to hit the road. This little car has been so rewarding to put back together and has brought 3 generation’s joy.

On the road, If you every get a chance to drive a Sprite or any bare bones light weight sports car you will see the instance appeal. The little car's neutral balance rewards smooth inputs and through the curves maintaining momentum the challenge. Winding roads are entertaining and unlike modern cars you aren’t going to lose your licence driving near the limit. The “numbers” 0-60, G-forces, etc. are not going to impress anyone but behind the wheel or in the cockpit the experience is unbeatable.

Tom

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