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A Sprite in My Life

By Ronald Hunt 

After searching for a car to restore, in 2002 I found a 1967 Austin-Healey Sprite in the Classic Auto Trader in Buckeye, Arizona, listed for $500. I thought it was a cute little car, and bought it for $450 plus a 16 oz. beer. The car had been sitting for 25 years.

I towed my Sprite 120 miles home and the fun began. I removed the 1098 motor only to find that although the transmission was still good, the motor couldn’t be saved. I replaced it with another 1098 motor from the MG Shop in Tempe, Arizona.

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Just over a year later, I decided to take a harder look at the car and removed everything, including the paint. I found that the floor pans, rocker panels, rear apron panel and bulkhead all needed to be replaced. I had the Sprite painted metallic silver satin when the body work was completed.

Assembly came next, starting with the motor, transmission and drive shaft. Then I went on to install the wiring harness, cooling system, heater, sport exhaust, side-draft Weber carburetor, fuel system, clutch, steering, front suspension, rear suspension, brake system, hood and trunk. Completed early summer 2006, the car ran great and sounded strong.

After I was injured on the job and went on disability, I put the Sprite up for sale for $4,000. Six people looked at it, but it didn’t sell. Last fall I decided to continue to improve the car by installing 205/60R13 tires, sport rims and many, many new parts.

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My thanks to Moss Motors for so much technical assistance in rebuilding the Sprite. Moss had 99 percent of the parts I needed to complete the project. I have no idea how much money I actually spent on the car, but it probably comes to about $15,000.

I had not so much as started the Sprite for two and a half years when finally in March I installed a new battery, added fuel and turned the key. It started right up. I had to bleed the clutch and brakes, and loosen up the shifter that had seized due to rust. And then I took it for a spin. Some adjustments are still needed, but I am really happy to be finally driving my prize.

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