"The First Sprite to be entered in an International event as a Sebring Sprite".
John Sprinzel pointed out to me that this car had not yet appeared on the website and in an email, below, he describes how it came about that John Patten bought the car:
"Donald (Healey), MD-Peter Green and I were lunching in the old Steering Wheel Club in Brick Lane, when John Patten, a sometime Ford works driver, came over to say 'Hi', and to casually ask what I thought would be a good rally car for him to buy. While Donald and Peter sat there, a little in awe, I promptly sold John the idea of a Sebring Sprite! Good class, cheap price, and every chance of picking up prizes. He then asked if I would drive it with him on the (1960) Liege, and you know what happened there*. Mike Reid bought the car off my stand at the '62 BRSCC Racing Car Show - it, by then converted to full coupe style. He liaised with me in preparing it for the '62 season".
* They came 3rd overall, and won the class, after an absolutely amazing drive - those of you who have a copy of "Spritely Years" should read pages 63 to 65 for the full story. Pictured left are Sprinzel with John Patten after the rally.
As Sprinzel mentions, the car was re-bodied (by Peel Coachworks), probably late in 1961. [It is not known what the car was doing during most of 1961, but it is assumed that John Patten used it on the road]. John Sprinzel established the Speed Equipment division of the Donald Healey Motor Co at Grosvenor Street in the West End of London, and Paul Hawkins was workshop foreman. They obtained 2214 UE, an Iris Blue Warwick-registered car and prepared it for the rally, in which Patten navigated for Sprinzel, just two weeks later.
After their success in the Liege, John Patten loaned the car to Sprinzel so that he could do the German Rally with his sister, Norma, as navigator. "......we managed 2nd in class among the 1600 Alfas and such. Not to boast of the achievement, but all we had changed on the Sprite were two shocks, the oils, filters and the brake pads and linings - which after a tough Liege just shows how incredibly strong and reliable these little cars were".
The car was owned for a time by Mike Reid who, in July 1962, took part in the 1000km ADAC meeting at Nurburgring, followed by the 500 km race there in September that year, closely followed by the 3hr Autosport race at Snetterton. As John Poulter says: "that little 995cc engine sure did some work!!"
John Tizard bought the car in 1972 or 3, and campaigned it briefly in hill-climbs during 1978 until he rolled it in an accident which resulted in the severe damage which can be seen, right. John, who is now 80+, still has the car and is making slow progress with its re-build. Previous owners Howard Steele and Chris Cooke met up with him, and the car, recently - together with John Poulter who, in his teens, was John's mechanic. Tizard has fitted a big-bore "A" Series motor, and has reverted to the original wire wheel set-up. The tub, including the alloy rear and roof panel, has been straightened and the axle and suspension refitted. He has been working on the roof and had difficulty getting the roll-bar to fit back in, but that is now resolved.
John Poulter is now trying to track down the other Sprite YDF 140 (shown in 2 photos below right) which also ran under the Ecurie Wild Goose banner which belonged to Don Balm. He says it was a "Sebring equivalent " except that the hardtop was fibreglass and there were no alloy panels. He has had no luck yet but has found another 1960 car with Sebring front, W & P hardtop, Speedwell door handles, 45 DCOE, etc, - all the period bits except for wires and disc brakes, and it was sold by Wild Goose Garage, but hasn't run for 30 years! Picture, right, shows YDF in the Wild Goose Garage race shop in its circuit spec probably in 1963 - no roll bars then! Engine was 995cc, flat top pistons, full FJ crank and 8 bolt flywheel. The left-hand photo was earlier, just after the car had been converted from its original light blue Frogeye spec. It was French blue and was used for road rallies fitted with a Halda Speedpilot, and John Poulter recalls you could hear it for miles in the quiet of the night!
My posting of the above information has resulted in a number of feedback messages:
14th May, 2007 from Arni Wookey: "In around 1964, 2214 UE was for sale at Wild Goose Garages in Dursley, Gloucestershire. At this time the car was in Sebring specification with the integral hardtop and Sebring bonnet. It was also unusual in that it had the rear hatch for access to the spare wheel which is clearly visible in the current photos on the website. The car was bought by Chris Cooke, who raced it in sports and GT events under the auspices of Ecurie Wild Goose, who also ran a Marcos 1500 for garage owner Don Balm and an 1800 for Howard Steel. I understand that Howard Steel still runs the garage, renamed as Dursley Garage, so may well have more information on its history and subsequent ownership".
28th May, 2007 from Robin Leathart, : "Regarding 2214UE I owned the car after Chris Cooke in about 1967 and did a fair amount of hill climbing with it. The pictures you show are of myself at Prescott when the car was "modified" (apologies didn't know any better then!) and probably Prescott as well when it has the roundels on. Could you tell me if John Tizard actually did restore it? It was one of the worst decisions in my life to sell the car , it was a beautiful machine , simply gorgeous".
16th Jan, 2008 - Alan Cameron of Healey Drivers International kindly supplied details of UE's day at Prescott in April 1971 (above right): The drivers were R. Leathart whose times were 56.68 and 55.94 secs, and L.A.G.Harrison who achieved 57.42 and 58.32 secs. The car was fitted with a 1200cc engine and ran in the up to 1275cc class.
3 Jan, 2009 - from Liz Patten, in Australia - addressed to John Sprinzel - "My father, John Patten, died a couple of years ago and I've been trying for a little while to find some pictures/information about the rallies he took part in in the 1950s and early 1960s. I remember the Sebring Sprite you sold him very well - yes, he did use it on the road - and I remember when you and he came third in the Liege - Rome - Liege. I know he also drove for Ford in the Monte Carlo rallies too, and came second or third, I think, in the Tulip Rally around that time too. I'm pretty sure I remember meeting you also, and some other drivers during that period. The website is full of interesting information and photos, and has called up a lot of memories for me".
Ian Grainger kindly keeps me posted as to progress on 2214 UE and told me: "Work is progressing well although Jon has a slight problem with clearence between the cage and rear of the coupé top. He's waiting for his bodywork man to find some spare time. They are both 80!" (12 Dec 09) The clearance problem has since been resolved.
Trying hard on the Liege
Patten & Hawkins on the RAC Rally in 1960
At the Racing Car Show, 1962
1962 1000kms Nurburgring
In John Tizard's hands
Prescott April 1971
Crumpled top following a mishap
and the bent rear end
Steele, Tizard and Cooke.
The car during its
The engine re-fitted
and the roll cage (Nov 2010)
Don Balm's YDF 140
YDF in the 'race shop' at Wild Goose Garage
Chris Cooke drives 2214UE at Castle Combe in 1967