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

 

Sven Eckhardt's Coupé Replica

A Bavarian Sebring

"My car originated in Ireland and is a late Mk 1 Sprite which I bought in Dublin while I was a medical student there. I started the restoration in Ireland and brought it over to Birmingham in 1988, where I became a surgical trainee. I had the priviledge to get to know Brian (Archer) and Andrew (Forster) in 1989 and they convinced me I should convert the car into a Sebring replica.

I restored the floorpan myself using Spridgebits, Heritage and Brian Wheeler panels and utilizing the original rear shroud. The Sebring hardtop and bonnet, as well as fittings, I got from Brian.  I did the preparation i.e. filling and flattening, prior to Andrew doing the final paint job early in 1994.

Looking back I don´t quite know how I found the time to start a family, take higher surgical training exams as well as nearly finish the Sebring which I took back to Germany in 1994 as a rolling Chassis with its engine installed. I also managed to build a Caterham  and play a lot of golf. I am now an orthopedic surgeon practising in Rosenheim, Bavaria in the south of Germany. Spare time seems to get less as you get older since little progress has been made on the Sebring since then".

The bodywork has now been re-sprayed and, after a strip-down and cleaning the engine, fuel tank, electric fuel pump, fuel line, Weber carburettor have been re-fitted as well as the radiator, battery and  exhaust sytem. On 26 May 2012, Sven says: "The windscreen and rear screen went in the day before yesterday - my fingers are still sore. I got wipers and safety belts and most of the other bits and pieces from Limora (www.limora.com) a German-based company similar to Moss -  very reliable and competitively priced. More photos are on the way. I hope to have the engine fired up in the next few days".

The car now has a new registration number: RO-JS-61 (RO for Sven's home town, Rosenheim, JS for John Sprinzel, and 1961 ~ the year of its first registration and when John Sprinzel launched the Williams and Pritchard coupé. The former, Irish, registration was ZN 9276.

The pictures below show the car, after some years laid up, partially stripped in readiness for its re-spray. As Sven says: "Sleeping Beauty awakes".

[19 June 2012] "The engine is now running and the car has moved under its own power for the first time. The timing seems OK but I guess the jetting on the Weber carb has to be optimized. A few leaks of engine oil, fuel and clutch fluid need to be sealed. More photos below".

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7 Sept 2012: Hello there Martin, Things are coming along but as ever are taking a wee bit longer than expected. The TUV inspector had a look at my baby. He did not like the KN Minator rims as they don`t have a TUV certificate of stability. He suggested to use the original steel wheels which I did not really want to do - don`t like them. I could have used the wire wheels off the green Frogeye, but too much hassle to get it out of its lock up after 15 years and start taking wheels and suspension bits off it. I will start work on it once the Sebring and the Seven are a running. I got a set of 6X13 Maxilite rims which do have the required certificate and he has accepted them. I had to shorten the bolt of the track rod end and to machine the nyloc nut down so they wouldn`t rub on the inside of the rim but things are working now. As you can see on the pictures the Weber had to go as well he is willing to give me the cert for a historic car with the H4 SUs which I still had - bought from Brian Archer and reconditioned on a Healey speed equipment manifolds minus the linkage back in 1993 or 4. I got the bits needed to complete the setup from sucarb.co.uk - another hold up. As you can see an ITG air filter there are rams inside as well - from Merlin Motorsport. It's running quite sweetly - it doesn´t seem to be quite as responsive as the Weber though. I don´t think you know my engine specs yet: It was built by Graham Hickman in 1994 starting with a 948 block out of the green Frogeye. Its got 998 pistons and Metro conrods; cylinder head is a reworked 12 G 295 casting with bigger valves, quite how big I don`t know but I remember him asking me to turn the engine over by hand and to make sure they would´t foul the block before running the engine. Cooper 'S'  distributor with a tailored curve. Road race cam again I don´t know the precise specs. Flywheel lightened and machined to take a 1275 clutch. I bought a straight-cut box during my time in Ireland from a fellow named Douglas Richardson in 1985. He used to race Midgets. At the moment I have fitted a 3.9 diff but I will try out the 4.22 and see which one works better once the car is on the road which should be next week. I will also make a trip to a rolling road to have an idea of the power output. I am sure I will start swapping around carbs and exhaust manifold knowing myself. So long. Sven

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Oct 2012: "The Sleeping Beauty" is finally up and running. Sven has covered 1000 kilometres in her and she is running "as sweet as a bell". he has now replaced the steering wheel with a more authentic looking item but has also ordered a new Falcon Le Mans wheel from Mike Lempert, though that may end up on his Frogeye.

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Congratulations Sven.


[25th November 2012] Message received from Sven: "Sad news - I crashed the Sebring today, spun her off a road, through a forest and ended up in a ditch by the roadside having mowed down a couple of trees as well as two roadsigns. Looking at the car it is really surprising the only injury I got was a sprained right thumb (skier´s thumb). A passing driver gave me a lift to the hospital. My baby is a pretty sad sight, and I was in real trouble with the good lady as well!"

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10 March 2013 - and poor Sven is having quite a struggle with his jigsaw puzzle:

"My plan was to continue work on a previously started floor section that I took over from an old friend of mine and to use it as a basis for my Sebring rebuild. It consists of completely new floors, tunnel, H-frame and rear bulkhead.With it came a beautifully self-made footwell including front bulkhead and battery tray. I have enclosed some pictures (below). Unfortunately it is ½" too long and as it is fully assembled it is nearly useless. With a bit of juggling I may be able to use the inner footwell panels and front bulkhead. My boot floor section at first glance looked salvagable, but after a bit of grinding I decided it was not worth the effort so I have ordered all the necessary panels to complete the job. Parts I ordered from Moss for my original shell arrived but unfortunately are not really what I need for the above floor section. The boot floor and the rear bulkhead on the Sebring shell are straight, the tunnel and footwells are nearly straight as is the right front wheel arch, and the front suspension is salvagable. Anybody with more sense than me would sacrifice all these bits, take the boot floor off and use it to make one shell out of the bits but I want as much of my white car as possible to live on. I have assembled main floor, inner sills,  cross member and front chassis legs - the front cross member was made up. Everything was assembled on a jig that I inherited from the same fellow I bought the floor section from. The plan is to cut all the bent bits out of my Sebring shell, lift it on to the made-up foor section, straighten everything out as needed and weld everything up. That's the theory!"

Good luck Sven

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6th May 2013 - "Just an update - theory seems to work out in practice. I married up old top section to new bottom section a couple of weekends ago and I don´t think things are too far off. The reference points between upper and lower part are the gearbox mounting points. The ones on the cross member being part of the new floor section and the ones in the tunnel being part of the old top section. I have bolted a gearbox mounting bracket to the cross member and hoped to make the hole in the side of the tunnel to match the holes in the bracket and guess what only about 3 mm of filing was required to make things fit not bad ey? All the other things seem to fit together likewise and the front suspension required a bit of shoving to get straight. Again the enclosed photographs are not quite up to date - a lot of welding has happened since. Sven".

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and finally, after a marathon task, Sven gets the car back on its wheels (Sept 2013)

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Now it is on its way to
Archers Garage
for further work.

 

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