Dedicated to the memory of the late Brian Archer who fulfilled his dream to re-create John Sprinzel's Sebring Sprite Coupé



1961 Works Car

Possibly one of the Works Sprites which raced at Sebring, Florida in 1961


In October 2007 this car was for sale in the USA. It is understood to be one of the team cars from Sebring, 1961. Although the engine bears an XSP tag I gather from Butch Gilbert that it turned out to be a fairly standard 948 cc motor. This was then up-graded with 998 rods and pistons, nitrided crankshaft, a re-worked 1100 cylinder head and modified camshaft. It has the correct Girling discs and calipers as well as the 8" rear drums. The rear bodywork and bonnet are in glass fibre (as they were originally) and the doors are aluminium. Butch has looked over the car and says it only needs a few minor things doing to it to make it "concours". Its body number is 45823.

The car may be that driven at Sebring by Briggs Cunningham and owned, for a time, by Bill Wood and then by Jeff Brenner.

November 2010 Update:
My reporter Stateside, Neil Anderson  spotted in a recent issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car magazine that one of the '61 Works Cars (apparently this same car) recently came up for auction at the Mecum-Monterey auction in California. It was unsold at $50,000. An average selling price was said to be $17,500: "The value represented here is based on a regular production Bugeye Sprite, not the factory lightweight pictured here. This was part of Briggs Cunningham's 1961 assault on Sebring, where it finished 8th. According to documents, it was one of 4 that emerged from the experimental shop at Warwick where it was fitted with alloy doors and a fiberglass nose and rear body section. It was 'restored to perfection', which is merely opinion when the windshield surround needed replacement, the knock-offs had road rash, the paint on the hood (bonnet) was cracked, the right side number ring was cracked and lifting, and the rest of the exterior trim had tarnished. At least the bolt-in roll bar was present". The car seems to have deteriorated since the photos were taken.

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3rd January 2014 - A message from Bill Wood reveals:
"As for the 1961 Bug Eye which I sold also to Jeff (Brenner) - they both (i.e with HAN8-R-202) went from my garage in Jeff's trailer as one purchase. I purchased it from a body shop in Springfield, Massachusetts, as salvage, not knowing at the time it was a special car.  My son was restoring a square body Sprite and needed a motor for it, so the original Sebring motor went into his restoration and went the way of all flesh.  I put the rolling chassis together and in so doing, found from Geoff Healey's records which I still have, that it was one of the five 1961 cars.  It had been sandblasted at the body shop, so I re-made all the aluminum panels for the doors and inner fender panels (I still have in the attic the original factory panels).
I got from Geoff a right hand dash, from his garage while visiting at his home at Warwick,  a steering wheel from California, and the original type brakes from England.  The top came from Bob Wilson in Chicago.  The grille was re-done and re-plated and the two fibre-glass panels for the front fenders were re-made by me personally. I got the large tachometer from England, the two hold-downs for the bonnet were reconstructed, a la 100S specs.

While working on the car, I decided to make it the car driven by Cunningham in 1961 as I had the Cunningham 100S also to restore.  I have all the papers for Sebring, so I had the choice to make.  One other car was in Texas, one went back to England for Le Mans with hardtop, driven by Walt Hansgen at Sebring.
The above is from memory as it is too cold this time of year to go to my files for more research. Regards, Bill Wood.

11 Feb 2015: "The car is in Southern California with the same owner ( a good friend of mine) who bought it from Fantasy Junction some years ago. Freeman Thomas".

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