A 'time capsule' - the car raced by George Du Vall, & Julian Doty - recently discovered in California
Some time ago now I received an email from Nick Conklin in California, USA. He had recently acquired a standard-bodied Sebring Sprite with a competition history in the States. Despite it having been raced by two of its three previous owners, the car remains in a completely un-molested state. You can still see where the race number 32 had been on the driver's door. It is reputed to have competed at Riverside and other US tracks.
AN5/21583 was built on 24th August 1959 and is, surprisingly, a right-hand drive example with Girling disc front brakes and the usual Sebring twin master cylinders, the experimental twin-pipe exhaust system tried by Healeys on several cars, Healey steering wheel, and a sway bar (anti-roll bar), plus Healey fabric side-screens. It also has the 8" rear brake drums and wire wheels. Jonathan White-house Bird has confirmed that certain details like the compensators fitted to the handbrake activating rods are Sebring ones and therefore original to the car. An unusual feature is an opening in the rear shroud where the registration plate is normally fitted, the inset panel being detachable, though its purpose is unclear - perhaps to allow trapped air to escape through the boot area at speed, or for access, - though not large enough to remove the spare wheel. A small circular lamp inset within the aperture replaces the original number plate light. Another feature is a front bumper fitted to the rear of the car, which has a steel plate bridging the gap between it and the rear body, - Nick thinks this may have been used for a quick-lift jack.
The British Heritage certificate obtained by Nick confirms that all the car's numbers match and that the car was 'for personal delivery'. Nick bought the car from an elderly gentleman who had had it in his garage for 34 years!
In "Spritely Years", Tom Coulthard mentions (on Page 152) :
'However, during 1959 the Donald Healey Motor Company may have produced a number of cars to its successful Sebring specification, though with Girling disc brakes. One such is recorded, an Old English White car with red trim that was despatched to Warwick on 17 April for conversion, returned to Abingdon and then re-despatched to Toronto on 12 May. This is listed in the Longbridge production trace as 'Spec.Sebring spec. by D.Healey'.
It looks as though Nick's car was to the same specification.
The car's history :
1st Owner: George Du Vall of early hot rod windshield fame (the Du Vall windshield, see right),who ordered the car pretty much as it is today.
2nd Owner: Julian Doty - AHRF (American Hot Rod Foundation) pioneer and racer, still active in racing at 85 years of age, who purchased the car from his Uncle George.
3rd Owner: Martin (Marty) Clampitt - AHRF member and racer, though apparently he never raced this Sprite.
So Nick is the only the fourth owner of the car in 48 years. He has since carried out a sympathetic restoration of the car (2011).
Nick would be interested to hear from anyone who can help fill in the gaps in the car's competition history or who can explain the few non-Healey Sebring modifications and which are reminiscent of those carried out to the alloy rear end of 2214 UE.
April,2011: "I have completely gone through the hydraulics, rebuilt everything with NOS (new/old stock) parts, the only variant being that it now uses silicone fluid, - I do not want to have to worry about water or corrosion as I don't expect the car to be driven a whole lot. I did not touch the discs as they were still decent and I know they are scarce, I didn't want to take any metal off them.
All of the mounts/bushings in the car have been replaced, belts, seals, gaskets and rubber as well. The rear end seals/bearings and front seals/ bearings replaced. The fuel tank was dropped/boiled/ etched/ lined. New packing rubbers were fitted, as well as a new grommet. The entire electrical system was gone through, every bullet connector serviced with wire pipe cleaners, di-electric grease and/or soldered and given the same treatment. Starter and dynamo both received new bushes, brushes, felts and/or oilers. The steering wheel was rebuilt with new wood, the column felt replaced, and the rack serviced. The front end was rebuilt with all new bushings and ends.
Original Raydot mirrors were installed. The battery sits in the original bakelite tray. She has an original set of tools, each of which has been restored or replaced with NOS. The dual exhaust has been repaired/replaced to spec and a new pipe installed from the back of the header to the rear of the car.
NOS rebound straps were fitted and I just got a correct 4" paper heater tube that will be installed when the car is complete.
The Shorrock supercharger is installed and works perfectly.
I have AMCO period correct floor rubber in the compartment, while I am trying to have the original flooring reproduced. Just a few more bits needed, original battery (needs to be rebuilt), battery clamp, and the top fastening straps are being made now and she should be ready.
So currently the car is almost completely sorted out, everything fits and works correctly. The next step: disassemble her down to the shell, place her in an electrolysis tank, reseal and paint her OEW and put her back together. I have kept every part that was on her as original, cleaned and boxed up. The bumpers front and rear have been removed and I am going with a new set of bumperettes on the back, the aperture remains. When finished I hope to mirror the Supercharged car that John Sprinzel and Willy Cave drove, with the scoop as it appears in "Spritely Years".
"Here are some pics (right) - note nothing done to the finish yet...she should be in her full glory in the next month or two though, and after paint, detailed finishing and with the new interior she should look great..Nick"
Nov 2011: "I have nearly finished stripping the Sebring down to bare shell for her respray...I came upon an interesting item on one of the doors. The other door has the hole for placement but the apparatus is gone..I have included pics. Have you seen these before...make for a very positive lock. Regards, Nick Conklin". (See below)
July 2013: My car nears completion, original lacquer finish yet to be polished out but looking good. Some ancilliary minor stuff left for completion but much progress has been made. I have documented the restoration bolt by bolt and have it very well documented, I will send some better pics with a more appropriate back drop when I am finished...Nick. (Photos, right)