Intended to make sports car motoring more affordable, the Donald Healey-designed Sprite entered production at MG’s Abingdon factory in March 1958. The new car was officially introduced a few months later in Monte Carlo, just prior to the Monte Carlo Rally, underlining this brand new car’s sporting intentions. Its unitary construction body shell featured a distinctive, rearward-hinging, combined bonnet and wings, which was topped by two ‘frog eye’ headlamps, thus ensuring instant recognition and the now familiar nickname.
Powered initially by the Austin A35’s 948cc A-Series engine, the Sprite used independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering, ensuring great roadholding. Equipped with twin SU carburetors, the engine produced 43bhp, which was good enough for a top speed of around 86mph. Despite a Spartan equipment level – even the front bumper was listed as an extra! – the ‘Frog Eye’ sold well, which perhaps was unsurprising as there was nothing competing with it either on price or performance.
This delightful frogeye was originally delivered to the west coast of America, a forward opening steel bonnet car, and is equipped with all round disc brakes. Complete with roof, side screens and tonneau, this Sprite should be a fun companion on the backroads for a relatively modest investment.