A 'works-modified' Warwick built Mk II Sprite
Tony Giordano, who is based in New York, U.S.A., already owns a Mark 2 Sprite which once raced at the old Bridgehampton circuit (link) and was recently offered this one-owner car which has sat unused for a great many years. Built in June 1962 (almost exactly 50 years ago) it was passed to the Donald Healey Motor Co the following month for an upgrade having been ordered by a USAF officer, T/sgt (Technical Sergeant) Rudolf A. Davila, known as Rad, this recorded on a little dash plaque similar to one on 776 KNX. Members of overseas forces stationed in the UK could buy our cars free of purchase tax so this car was initially registered in the UK, and amazingly still retains its Warwick number plates behind the American ones fitted later.
A left-hand drive car built for export it has a Warwick hardtop, wood-rim steering wheel, wire wheels and a Lockheed 'thin-disc' front brake conversion. A very special feature of the car is its XSP engine with 11-stud cylinder head, 1½" H4 SU carburettors and tubular exhaust manifold. It is mated to a ribbed-case gearbox which Jonathan Whitehouse-Bird suggests "would have been fitted in combination, and to cope with, the more powerful XSP unit. Fitted with it's B-series gears and baulk-ring synchromesh it is a superior box, which may contain straight-cut gears!" Tony has sought advice from Jonathan who mentions that his 'other Mk 2', 9256 WD, also a 'works-modified' car, has the 'thin-disc' brake set-up. He reports "I can't begin to explain how rare this set-up is!! Spare parts are non-existent, so don't lose or break anything!! Pads turn up now and again (Lockheed part no. LDB 8). The calipers are Lockheed PL, and as far as I'm aware were not fitted to any other car. Discs are 8.75" in diameter (slightly larger than those used on the Healey Girling conversion). The dust shields are unique to this conversion also. All parts differ considerably from those of the later BMC production, Abingdon-fitted, Lockheed set-up used from Oct 1962 onwards. The calipers are mounted to the stub-axles using similar brackets to those of the Healey Girling disc brake conversion and front and rear wire wheel hubs are the same as those used for the Girling system". With the Lockheed system the car should have an additional brake fluid reservoir (from an MGA) mounted on top of the master cylinder but this is missing so the master cylinder may have been changed.
The XSP engine bears engine no.1862-2, one of a batch which includes those fitted to the 'works' Sebring Mark 2's (in 1962).
A very similar 'works modified' Mark 2, 925 CMX, though not fitted with an XSP motor, was tested by John Bolster for Autosport, and also by Autocar. Jonathan has kindly supplied copies of these reports.
It must be many a Sprite enthusiast's dream to discover a works-built car still in its original form 50 years later, just waiting to be lightly restored before going back on the road.
Tony has now sold the car (27 Nov 2015) so we hope at some point to hear from the new owner and of its restoration.
50 years on
A little dusty
and in need of new paint
That special engine
and big carburettors
BMC, not Austin on XSP
Hood still in the boot.
Lockheed Thin Disc caliper
Lockheed parts list