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My Mark III Sprite - Robert David

It’s hard to think that I have owned my Sprite for over 37 years!

Back in 1972 I helped a fellow engineering student rebuild his MGB over a few months. This got me keen on buying a sports car. MG's were too expensive and the only sports cars that I could afford were Austin Healey Sprites. I decided on one which had wind up windows as it would be better in wet weather (ha ha).

Eventually, in February 1973 I found a 2nd owner MK111 Sprite in Box Hill which I bought for $1000.00. Over the next few months I enjoyed the highs and lows of Sprite ownership, including breaking an axle in peak hour traffic in Toorak Rd and losing the oil filter in Blackburn Rd.

One lunchtime I was at Kellow Fawkners in South Melbourne buying parts when I met a fellow Sprite owner (Ian Bennett) who told me about the Austin Healey Sprite Drivers’ Club and invited me along to a practice day at Calder Raceway. I joined the Club the next month and was immediately struck how friendly it was. Over the next few years I competed in many events including sprints ,hillclimbs, car rallies and motorkhanas. As it was my only car it got driven to all these events as well as driving to work.

One of my first competition events was a car rally organised by the MSCA called “The Wombats Jaunt” It was held on a combination of dirt and bitumen roads. Part-way through the Rally I hit a bump in the road and spun off into the scrub. When we had a look at the Sprite the front wheels were pointing in different directions .The bolts holding the steering arm to the front disc had fallen out. Thankfully we were able to find one of the bolts and managed to limp slowly to the finish at Wallan.

It also got used on other trips including a camping trip with some friends from work to a property near Omeo. To get to the campsite we had to negotiate numerous paddocks and then ford the Tambo River. After this trip I decided that the Sprite was not suited to such activities, which resulted in me buying an old Land Rover and that started my interest in 4wd's.

My Sprite is not a concourse car and over the years has had many small modifications done to it to make it more reliable. These days the Sprite is used mainly as an “around town” car and on Sunny Sunday drives. I no longer compete in it as after the last engine rebuild the crankshaft is very undersized and I don’t want to break it. But it is still a fun car to drive!

For more details on my Sprite and my other hobbies and interests see my website at http://member.melbpc.org.au/~rdavid/sprite.html

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