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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

Small Green Wonder

The restoration of 416C [Thoroughbred & Classic Cars]
R GRoves
John Blunsden drives both cars during their time with Richard Groves Racing

ENX 415C and ENX 416C

The Donald Healey 'works' Le Mans entry for 1965

48 Rauno Aaltonen/Clive Baker & 49 Paul Hawkins/John Rhodes

This was the first Le Mans outing for the new wind-tunnel developed cars, which bore chassis numbers HAN8-R-65-52 and HAN8-R-65-35, the Sebring car DAC 952C having been sold in the USA earlier in the year where Baker and Aaltonen finished 15th overall.

There were problems for the Healey team from the moment the team arrived in the Sarthe, home of the Le Mans circuit. To make the cars more readily visible to the much faster cars Geoff (Healey) had decided to paint them an almost opalescent lime green. As he says in 'More Healeys': "Here was something that could pose a threat to the highly developed small French sportscars and the Sprites were subjected to a very thorough scrutineering. Finding nothing that contravened the rules the scrutineers suddenly said that the colour of the cars gave us an unfair advantage and that they should be painted in the national colour, British Racing Green". Eventually, to satisfy the organisers the cars were hastily repainted with a darker green finish - which actually began to wear off in places during the event.

In the race "the cars went like trains, recording 147 mph on the straight on official timing. On the Sunday morning the Aaltonen/Baker car, #48, broke with a bang as it passed the pits. Subsequent examination ...suggested that the distributor drive had worn and broken, being expelled through the side of the crankcase." Paul Hawkins and John Rhodes finished 12th overall, and 1st in class in car #49 (ENX 415C). They were also placed 3rd in the Thermal Efficiency Index.

In the phoKS 32to, below, Richard Groves' ex-works 693 LAC stands in the background behind the Donald Healey-entered car for Clive Baker and Keith Greene in the Nurburgring 500 race in September 1965. John Baggott writes in his book "Mighty Midgets & Special Sprites": "Richard Groves bought ENX 416C for £700 at the end of the season and acquired the sister vehicle ENX 415C, after it had been displayed on the Austin-Healey Club stand at the Racing Car Show in January, 1966. It was his intention to contest all suitable long-distance racing during the year." John continues: "In May, 1966, John Harris/John Moore and Mike Garton/Alec Poole appeared under the Groves banner at the first ever 1,000kms at Belgium's Spa circuit in the Ardennes....the two Johns finished 11th overall, 6th in class, with Alec and Mike coming home 13th. At the Nurburgring 1,000kms in June, Mike drove with John Moore in 415C (2nd in class) and Alec with Clive Baker in 416C (3rd in class)."

At the end of 1966, 416C was sold to Mike Pigneguy who worked for Richard Miles in London. He campaigned the Sprite in the 1967 European Sports Car Championship including the 1,000kms at Nurburgring where, with Mick Cave, he achieved 3rd in class. Back for the 500kms Pigneguy only practiced the car due to an accident but the following May (1968) he and Willy Tuckett came 42nd in the 1000kms, and at Spa they were 22nd in pouring rain. On to Mugello the car was now maroon and white, 3rd in class, and in September for the 500kms they finished 18th and won their class. Next was a race at Enna, another 3rd in class.Tuckett also drove the car in several hill-climbs using a smaller engine to suit the class.

When Tuckett moved on to drive Chevrons the car was sold to a Scot named Boswell who drove it just once, at Silverstone. It then disappeareKS 66d, until in 1988 Denis Welch rescued it from Lord Kildaire's estate where it was discovered in a very sorry state. He meticulously restored the car in time for a parade at Le Mans in 1990 where it appeared once more in its original lime green paint finish. [See article above left].

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ENX 415C soon after its restoration in the UK

 

 

KS 71
415C on arrival at Le Mans in lime green [Photo: K.Stelk] 1965 LM
After the repaint [Photo:Dominique Gasnerie]
ENX415-6C
The cars finally make it to the grid. [Photo: Geoff Healey]
KS 52
Aaltonen or Baker at speed
1965 LM

1965 LM

1965 LM
Hawkins/Rhodes
[3 photos above by French photographer, Dominique Gasnerie]
KT
Alec Poole drove in the 1966 Nurburgring 500 kms
Mugello
Mugello GP 1968
!000 ks
1000kms Nurburgring in 1968, tailed by the Costin-Nathan.
1000 ks
415C entered by Howard Fawcett for Marriott/Cutting Nurburgring 1000kms 1968

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ENX 415C
ENX 416C
Both cars on display at Thruxton in (?) 2005
416C and TFR 6 seen recently in Japan
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MAY 2014
The car driven by Rauno Aaltonen and Clive Baker at Le Mans in 1965 where it failed to finish. Owned today by Kazuo Maruyama in Japan these photos were sent in by his son, Kotaro, for which many thanks.

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