Frequently Asked Questions




History 

Q. When was the Frogeye first manufactured?
A. As the result of a partnership between Austin (part of the British Motor Corporation) and the Donald Healey Motor Company, the Austin Healey Sprite (MK1) was launched to the press on the 20th May 1958. Monte Carlo was the appropriate setting. Production ran through 1958, 1959 and 1960 with a small quantity of CKD Kits being supplied  to overseas markets in 1961.

Q. How many Frogeyes were built?
A. Just under 49,000, with almost 74% being left hand drive models exported all over the world; the United States being the largest market. Less than 10,000 were built as right hand drive models for the home (UK) market.

Q. What were the original factory colours?
A. Initially, Cherry Red, Old English White, Primrose Yellow, Speedwell Blue and Dark Green. Subsequently (Jan 1959) Whitehall Nevada Beige replaced Primrose Yellow, Iris Blue replaced Speedwell Blue and Leaf Green replaced Dark Green. Only Cherry Red and Old English White remained throughout production.

Q. How many Frogeyes still survive?
A. This is difficult to answer since there is no one place that lists the ‘survivors’. An educated guess based on Club membership lists and the numbers attending the Frogeye 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2008, would indicate no more than 2000 left worldwide (maybe even fewer?).

Q. My Frogeye has a fibreglass (grp) bonnet. How do I know it’s a genuine MK1 Sprite?
A. Due to corrosion, accident damage or just the desire to save weight for racing, many Frogeyes were fitted with fibreglass bonnets from the early 1960’s onwards. These came in a variety of shapes as well as the standard ‘Frogeye’ profile and have often remained in place to this day. Verification that the rest of the car is a genuine Frogeye can be determined from the ID plates and certain structural details. If in doubt, ask an expert!

Q. Did they ever have wire wheels or disc brakes from the factory?
A. No. But the Donald Healey Motor Co. Ltd. were offering these (and other ‘goodies’) as an aftermarket option based on the parts used on their racing Sprites. Later MK2 Sprites (Oct 1962 onwards) had front discs as standard and wire wheels as a factory option. Once this happened, owners were able to source and retro fit these BMC supplied parts to their earlier Frogeyes if they so wished.

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Ownership

Q. Is it true there is no Road Fund License to pay?
A. Yes, it’s true. All genuine Frogeyes are classified as historic vehicles and attract no road tax. However, you must still apply for a ‘Tax disc’ to use the car even though this is free of charge.  If the car is not in use and not taxed, then you must complete a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).

Q. How much do they cost to run?
A. Generally very little! With fully comprehensive insurance costing about £100p.a. and free Road Tax, there is really only the price of fuel, an annual service (recommended) and the MoT test to consider. Routine service parts are remarkably cheap and readily available. Expect to return 35mpg to 40mpg on the standard 948cc. engine in good tune.

Q. How can I be sure it is the car for me?
A. If you like driving, you will like a Frogeye! It is light and responsive and does only what you ask it to do; nothing more and never less. There is no ABS, ESP, Traction Control, power assisted this and that like a modern car. You are in charge, not some piece of electronic wizardry. On a well prepared car the steering is light, the handling good and predictable and the brakes will lock the wheels, even on drums!

Q. What Clubs can I join to meet other owners and get the most from my Frogeye?
A. The Austin Healey Club and the Midget and Sprite Club are the two main national bodies representing our cars and both offer a wide range of activities for you and your car. Don’t forget, there are plenty of local motor clubs too that encompass a wide range of cars in one particular region and that also offer social and competitive activities.

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Tuning

Q. What are the most popular modifications?
A. In no particular order of priority they include, wire wheels, disc brakes, larger capacity engines (usually 1275cc from later model Sprites, but some 1098cc also), anti roll bars, ‘free flow’ exhaust systems, larger carbs (usually 11/4” SU’s)…and plenty more!

Q. If I modify my car from standard will it lower its value?
A. Not necessarily, but it depends on what is changed and whether that work is done sympathetically. Installing a larger capacity or modified BMC ‘A’ series engine is fine and visually little different from the original 948cc unit if sprayed the correct shade of ‘BMC Green’. But, modifying the bulkhead to accept later ‘1275’ brake and clutch master cylinders also dictates the use of the later ‘Midget’ heater motor/ radiator assembly and suddenly the whole engine bay is looking decidedly ‘non-Frogeye’. In our opinion it is also better to retain the original factory instruments and trim specifications if at all possible.

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Competition

Q. I don’t want to race my Frogeye but I would still like to do something competitive occasionally. What can I do?
A. Firstly join a Motor Club (local or national) and you will find plenty of options. These include various mild to serious forms of rallying, auto tests, sprints, hillclimbing and more. Go and spectate initially to discover what appeals to you. The Austin Healey Club Sprint and Hillclimb championship also accommodates less modified cars via a handicap system, and is an excellent place to start.

Q. I wish to race a Frogeye. How do I start?
A. Whether you have a car already, or are planning to buy/build one, we can help you. There are a number of race series for which a Frogeye can be eligible, including the Austin Healey Championship, the Midget Challenge series, the Classic and Sports Car Club series etc. Be aware that the regulations are likely to differ between individual series, so it is as well to visit some meetings to decide which one appeals to you, then prepare the car to suit.

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Links

We think you might find the following sites of interest too:
www.wsmcars.com/
www.sebringsprite.com/

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