My Austin-Healey Sprite MK IV was built by the Austin Motor Company Limited from parts manufactured in the U.K., at Abingdon, Berkshire, on July 5 in the year 1969. I purchased it on September 5, 1969, from Stockton Motors, Huntsville, AL.
This was my third Sprite/Midget and was purchased primarily as a vehicle to get me to and from work, a distance of 120 miles a day, through mountainous curvy roads. What a fun time it was to drive such a car. We also took the car on road trips to Daytona Beach, New Orleans, and El Paso. When it came time to trade for a new car, I decided to keep the ‘69 Sprite, because 1969 was the last year that Sprites were manufactured/imported to the U.S. I replaced it with a 1971 Midget.
In the meantime, I drove the ‘69 Sprite on weekends and used it to introduce my oldest daughter to driving and how to navigate through a four-speed transmission. Over a period of time, the Sprite became less of a focal point in the family’s daily life, even though later it became a source of transportation for my oldest daughter to get to and from high school (1984-1988).
The Sprite fell victim to neglect and was stored in the family garage, where it remained until the mid ‘90s. It was moved out of the garage and left in the elements until 1998. The Sprite was again moved inside for a short period time, when some maintenance was performed in order to once again make the car drivable.
I decided in early 2000 that it had been long enough, and it was time to start the restoration process. The process began in the summer of 2004 and was completed in December of 2014. The newly restored car was brought home to a specially-built garage. There were a lot of bumps along the restoration way. We were faced with major family health issues that became a distraction and resulted in a loss of focus and excitement toward pushing for completion of the project. With all of that behind us, our great car, which had slipped into a sad and deteriorating state, has been restored to a thing of beauty that even challenges its original condition.
Once the restoration process was started, it was an all-out restoration from frame up, including powder coat frame, old paint stripped to bare metal with BRG paint applied, and all trim, bumpers, and hubcaps were re-chromed. New carpet, seats, side panels, and top added, as well as various pieces of new hardware. All rubber, plugs, seals, tires, and hydraulics were replaced. All wiring relays and switches have been replaced. Even though the engine has less than 65,000 miles, the engine was torn down to inspect and repair as necessary. There was little or no wear on the engine, but new rings and bearings were replaced. Lucas driving lamps and an AM/FM radio were added to complete the restoration.
With summer approaching, driving through the countryside with the top down and wind in your face is a long-awaited event that I have dreamed about ever since restoration was started.
The parts and technical advice for the restoration process has been provided by Moss Motor. I am grateful to Moss for the rapid response in both providing the parts ordered and technical advice necessary to restore Sprite to as good or better than it was when I bought it back in 1969. Thanks, Moss Motors. It’s been a great ride.