1966 ~ Sebring and Le Mans 'Works' Sprite
now owned and raced by Jim Prentice
HAN8/R/143 was registered by the Donald Healey Motor Co in March 1966, but the number HNX 455D was on the car for only a few months, apparently being returned to the DVLA at the end of June that same year. The car raced first at Sebring that year, painted Day-Glow orange, as No.67 and was driven by Paul Hawkins and Timo Makinen, finishing 1st in class, and 18th overall. It went on to race at Le Mans, I believe re-painted red, and numbered 49, driven by Paddy Hopkirk and Andrew Hedges . According to Geoff Healey's book "More Healeys", the car was classified 18th after going out with connecting rod failure after 19½ hours (head gasket failure according to racingsportscars.com). Clive Baker and John Rhodes drove the sister car, No.48, that year, which suffered a similar failure at about the same distance. (Clutch and water pump failure according to racingsportscars.com)
The car is believed to have been sold by the Healeys immediately after the '66 Le Mans race to Royston Motors of Philadelphia and in 1970 it raced in the 24 hours at Daytona in 1970 in the hands of Jacksonville drivers William Harris and Robert Lewis, where it finished 33rd overall. It also raced at a number of other circuits in the States, in private hands. The car was later dismantled and was in pieces while it was owned by Stan Huntley of Portland, Oregon who then sold it on to his friends Tom, Pat and Brian Cotter (of Davidson, North Carolina) in 2002, who re-assembled it. Tom wrote a book entitled "Cobra in the Barn" in which he devoted a chapter to his re-assembly of the car. Unfortunately his history is a little muddled in that he believed the car was re-painted green for Le Mans due to its bright colour, confusing it with the events which occurred in '65. In 2010 the car passed to Jim Prentice who repatriated it to the UK. While over in the States, Jim took the car back to Sebring and raced it with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association, in the company of two other 'Streamliners', both owned by Steve Coleman of Texas. They are the cars known as the Ring Free Special and the last Targa Florio Car.
Jim managed to recover the original registration number from the DVLA, obtained new HTP papers and re-fitted the headlights and other parts stripped out for racing in the USA. All the original components came with the car, and it has since competed in Jim's hands at the Le Mans Classic and at the Goodwood Revival in 2010 (where John Rhodes signed his name on its roof) and in the HRDC series in 2011.
Jim refined the suspension and dampers and ran it with a 1293cc CMES (Classis and Modern Engine Services) engine with single 45DCOE Weber, producing 140 bhp on the dyno. The original dry-sump motor was kept safe, so as not to destroy it while racing. The car weighed in, Jim thought, at about 650 kg. He said: "It goes well and I think we can make it a bit quicker - if the driver is up to it!".
Jim feels the car is too valuable for him to race so has reluctantly decided to put it up for sale. It was offered in the Coys auction at Ascot on April 27th, 2014. [Did not sell - later placed with Simon Kidston in Geneva at 225,000 Euros. Unsold, it is now back in Scotland - Sept 2014]
From Coys' auction particulars:
"During his ownership the vendor has managed to recover the original registration number from the DVLA, obtain new FIA HTP papers and attend to period detail issues such as re-fitting the headlights and other original parts stripped out for racing in the USA. Since then the car has been invited to and has participated in the Le Mans Classic and at the Goodwood Revival during 2010 (where John Rhodes endorsed the car) and has been actively campaigned to great effect in the HRDC 'Grand Touring Greats' Series for sub-1500cc historic GT cars.
In an ongoing programme of race development, the vendor has refined the suspension and dampers and ran it with a 1293cc wet sump engine, prepared by Classic and Modern Engine Services and fitted with a single 45DCOE Weber carburettor, which produces 140 bhp on the dyno.
The original dry-sump equipment was kept safe, so as not to destroy it while racing, although the dry-sump tank is still fitted to the car. With the car weighing in at 650 kgms, the power to weight ratio is more than useful. Driven through its original Le Mans 5-speed gearbox, [actually it had an overdrive box at Le Mans] power is transferred via a sintered race clutch. The suspension benefits from new, but to original specification, front springs, front lever-arm shock absorbers and a race set-up with negative camber fitted. The rear suspension runs new, but compliant, double-adjustable shock absorbers.
For race days, new Minilite wheels are fitted; however the original Healey magnesium wheels are fitted to the car for display purposes but are considered too brittle to be used under race conditions. To bring the car up to correct FIA safety specification, the following equipment has been professionally fitted: FIA-compliant Roll Cage; Bag Tank Fuel Cell; FIA race Seat and Belts; FIA specification plumbed-in fire suppressant system; Stack Rev counter and Shift Light system ."
At Sebring in 1966
Le Mans scrutineering - ground clearance test
In the paddock - Hedges, Hopkirk, Geoff Healey et al
Hedges corners at Le Mans
Le Mans again
During the car's rebuild by Stan Huntley which was....
..completed by Tom Cotter [from "Cobra in the Barn"]
Le Mans 2010
Le Mans Classic 2010
The up-dated cockpit for today's racing