Coupe des Alpes 1958: Austin Healey Sprite…

Posted: March 28, 2015 in Fotos, Obscurities
Tags: , , , , ,
sprite 1958 alpine rally

(Yves Debraine)

The Brookes/Well West Austin Healey Sprite zips through the Alps on is competition debut. Sprites finished first, second and third in their class…

The iconic ‘Bugeye’ was released to the press on 20 May 1958 just prior to the Monaco Grand Prix. The cars competition debut was shortly thereafter, in the July Coupe des Alpes, John Sprinzel and Willy Cave leading home a 1,2,3 in class and finishing 15th overall. Tommy Wisdom drove the second placed Sprite and Ray Brookes the third. The event was won by the Consten/de La Geneste Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

The first of many Sprite International and Club competition successes cars which continue to give pleasure to their owners 60 years after release. See this Shell film of the 1958 event…

ah sprite 1958 alpine rally

Ray Brookes and R Wells-West at Monaco during the 1958 Coupe des Alpes. (Unattributed)

Sprites were all about fun, modification and competition. They begged for it and were responsive to it. I flirted with one for 18 months or so when i first got my licence, my younger brother couldn’t afford a car so i part funded/owned his Bugeye which had been fitted with a Skoda! engine and gearbox in its past.

It sounds naff but the all alloy engine fed by a 45DCOE Weber and breathing through bigger valves and extractors made good power, the engine also considerably lighter than the good ole ‘A Series’, so handling was enhanced as the road testers would say.

I was busy fiddling with open wheelers at the time, so it was never used competitively but it was a quick, nimble, ‘pointy’, fun road car…as they were, and are.


Chassis of unitary construction, 948cc BMC ‘A Series’ OHV 4 cylinder 43 bhp engine fed by twin 1 1/8 inch SU carbs, 4 speed gearbox. Front suspension coils and wishbones with the lever arm shock the top links. Rear solid axle sprung by quarter elliptic springs again with lever arm shocks. Drum brakes front and rear. (Theo Page)



Yves Debraine, Theo Page cutaway

Many thanks to Martin Ingall, John Sprinzel, Steve Nash  and David Scothorn for assistance in identifying the driver/co-driver of 487CKP. For those with an interest in competition Sprites check out this wonderful site;


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