Random # 222: Mk III Sprite

A few months ago, a reader made comment that the Fiat X1/9 was "a terrible sports car the worst [he had] ever driven."  UMPH isn't sure what motivated this unsolicited invective but he's pretty confident the bloke had a cashew in lieu of wedding tackle.

Who knows what his idea of a good sports car may have been?  Given his apparent inadequacy, it seems hugely unlikely it would be the diminutive Austin Healey Sprite.  

The Sprite - and its twin, the MG Midget - share a few things in common with the X1/9.  All three are small and, in terms of power, might be considered to be a little underwhelming in standard form.  However, Sprites, Midgets and X1/9s all provide fun factor in absolute buckets, being, in terms of sheer driving joy, at least the equal of many larger, supposedly 'better' or more exotic sports cars. 

The Sprite shown here - a Mk III - would be fitted with a 1098 cc motor - up from the 948 cc of the Mks I and II (unless retro-fitted with something else, such as a 1275 cc from the Mk IV) and semi-elliptic rear springs, as opposed to the quarter-elliptics of the earlier versions.  It also features a slightly different windscreen to that of the previous models, as well as 1/4 vent front windows with wind-up main panes, a metal dash board, and external door handles and locks.  

It stirred fond memories for UMPH, who had a Mk IIIA (additional chrome accents, wire wheels and front disc brakes as standard) but sold it in favour of his X1/9.  His was the same colour as the car featured here but was also fitted with spot-lights, a roll bar and a mildly worked motor (48 mm side-draught Weber, Cooper S cam and extractors).  

Sprites also feature some of the simplest wiring imaginable, with (from memory) one or two - certainly not more than three - fuses and no extraneous wiring.  If only Series 1.5 X1/9s boasted such economy in the electrics department!



All iPhone images.


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