SOLD 09/23

1965 Austin Healey
Miata-powered Sprite

Bring A Trailer NO RESERVE auction preview: Ingenious Miata Turbo conversion. Substantially documented.

  • VINHAN8L45431
  • Exterior ColorGreen
  • Interior ColorBlack
  • Mileage7773 Miles (TMU)
  • EngineTurbocharged 1.6L inline 4-cylinder from a Miata
  • Transmission5-speed manual
  • StatusSold
  • StockFJ2780


1965 Austin Healey Bugeye “The Mite” Sprite
Chassis Number – HAN8L45431
Exterior Color – Green
Interior Color – Black
Engine Type – Turbocharged 1.6L Inline Miata 4-cylinder
Gearbox –5-Speed Manual (Ford T9)
Current Mileage –7,773 miles (TMU)
Current Owner Purchase Date – March 2021
Current Owner Miles Driven – Approx. 100

Marque and Model History

The Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite was produced from 1958-1971. The concept was simple. Build a low-cost sporting car in the spirit of the Austin Seven, one that was small enough to store in a bike shed and yet capable enough to deliver tuned performance for two occupants. Using steel unibody construction for both cost and manufacturing efficiency allowed for a very compact and simple design that could be easily built and annually updated. The compact 948cc engine and 4-speed gearbox propelled the Bugeye to a top speed of 82 mph, delivering 32 mpg.

Over the years, the Bugeye has continued to endear itself as a magical little car with a memorable face, compact shape, and the added benefit of being an inexpensive vintage car capable of delivering surprisingly strong competition numbers when in the hands of intrepid privateer racers. Enthusiasts today continue to seek out the Bugeye as a near universally loved example of prudent British engineering coupled with charming aesthetic qualities. As part of the imaginative history and performance alure, years of clever modifications and performance enhancements have been developed in keeping with the original build while leveraging new technology.

History of this Car

This cleverly modified Miata-powered Austin Healey Bugeye was engineered and developed in the early 2000s with significant performance improvements combined with a comprehensive restoration. Purchased by the original building owner as a restoration project, the owner shifted to developing it as a modified car with an innovative twist in the powertrain. The original builder’s website documents 61 sections detailing the restoration including chassis reinforcement, body stripped to bare metal, and preparation for paint. The first phase included complete disassembly of the bare metal structure, removing the old floor bottom panels (center section retained due to the excellent rust-free condition) and replacing the driver’s side A-post with a correct Moss Motors steel panel and lead filling. The car was treated to phosphoric acid as a rust inhibitor, and the new floor sections welded in place.

The extensive documentation includes photos of the build, notes from the owner during the process, details for the interior, engine and suspension components, and notation from various testing and refinements. Included in the first phase of this build, a later series Miata 1.6L inline-four-cylinder engine was mated to a Ford T9 five-speed manual transmission. A Speedwell Engineering fiberglass clamshell “Bugeye” front end and a newly constructed transmission tunnel were fitted during the build. For stopping power, the car was converted to Wilwood four-wheel disc brakes all around, aided by a Wilwood triple master cylinder. A set of 13” wire wheels were powder coated, the front suspension was converted to tube shock absorbers with tubular upper and lower A-arms, and a limited slip differential was installed. Additional work included widening the wheel wells, relocating the battery to the trunk, recessing the antenna, and shaving the exterior door handles.

The original build/owner kept the car until selling it to the next owner in 2009, who continued to refine and update the car, also retaining copious notes. Under the 2009-2021 ownership, the engine was updated in 2017 using a professionally rebuilt Miata engine, rebuilt Garrett TB03 turbocharger, and front mounted intercooler. This engine was rebuilt by Heldenberg’s Advanced Auto of Leesburg, Georgia using a solid B6ZE engine block and crank. The block was sonically checked, decked, bored, and the crank was machined and polished. The build included a set of Wiseco 9:1 forged pistons, Eagle connecting rods, ARP head studs, and HD valve springs, a new specially selected Electromotive TEC ECU, a Hallman boost controller, and 550cc fuel injectors. A mandril and hand formed #304 stainless-steel tubular turbo exhaust header was added later in the build. The Garrett TB03 turbocharger was sent to Majestic Turbo, TX and comprehensively rebuilt to Gran National specifications. A dyno report performed by Heldenberg’s Advanced Auto dated March 2017 indicates peak output of 263 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 247 lb-ft of torque at 5,400 rpm at 20 Psi running 91 octane pump gas.

The current owner purchased the car in March 2021 on the website BringATrailer. Over the past two and a half years the current owner has used it sparingly, adding just 100 miles to the car since their purchase. Build notes and recent work are documented in copies of the previous owner’s summary including the following notable recent mechanical services as well as performance and cosmetic upgrades.

March 2017 – New water temp gauge installed
May 2018 – New ring and pinion set 3.636:1 and bearings.
June 2018 – Kumho 175/70 Kumho Solus KR21 tires and inner tubes.
June 2018 – All four wire wheels powder coated.
August 2019 – A custom mandril and hand formed #304 stainless-steel tubular turbo exhaust header fabricated specifically for high heat durability ($1400 cost).
June 2020 – An easily removable vintage wood steering wheel with billet adapter and horn button installed.
August 2020 – Soft top plastic windows replaced, a padded headliner installed to reduce wind noise, seats and door panels recovered.

General Overview

Today this Bugeye Sprite, nicknamed “The Mite” presents as a cohesive example ready for fun events and performance cruising. The green finish is accented with white stripes, both of which are glossy and smooth and present very well. Various minor road chips and scuff marks are evident due to enjoyable use, but none that detract from the impressive stance and overall look of this impressive and capable Sprite. A set of four recently powder coated wire wheels are finished with chrome center hub knockoffs. A matched set of Kumho Solus 175/70R13 black wall radial tires with inner tubes (purchased in 2018) are mounted. The exterior trim is in very good condition including the minimal chrome and added side vents and painted hood mount louvers. The car also features shaved door handles and recessed antenna. The larger diameter performance exhaust tail pipe is the only clue to the hidden 263 horsepower this diminutive Sprite hides beneath the generally stock appearance. The trunk is finished with matching black carpet and houses the relocated battery.

The interior is prepared for performance duty including formed bucket seats, stitched detail for the black door panels, black carpet, and a central five-speed shifter. Wilwood clutch and brake pedals, shoulder height recoiling seatbelts, and a removable wood rim steering wheel add to the performance theme. A large dial Dolphin speedometer and tachometer are mounted in the main dash section with a matching central array of four Dolphin white dial instrumentation for fuel level, oil pressure, water temperature, and voltage. An under dash Autometer boost gauge is mounted next to a modern stereo unit feeding two rear bulkhead Blaupunkt speakers.

Titling the hood forward, the impressive Miata engine is in clear view offering easy service from either side. Polished features include the dual overhead cam engine head, exposed serpentine belt drive and cam wheels, and the massive Thermal Zero heat-blanketed Garrett turbocharger. Other details include the Wilwood triple master cylinder, stainless-steel tubular exhaust, front mounted intercooler, and braided stainless hoses. Fitted with a robust Ford 5-speed gearbox the pairing is both manageable for regular use and eye-watering performance pulls. The underside of the car has been finished with equal attention to detail including modified front suspension, improved disc brakes, coil over shocks, updated shock absorbers, and braided stainless fuel lines. Though some surfaces are now showing signs of age, The build quality is evident in the attention to detail and use of properly sourced features included in this build.

Included with this Car

This Bugeye is accompanied by a black convertible top and top bows, a spare steering wheel, a full-size spare tire, jack and knock off hammer, and digital copies of various reference information on the build, copies of dyno sheets, and other relevant build notes.

The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.

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Fantasy Junction  •  510-653-7555  •  1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608