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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

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A recent photo of the car

Ron & Rob Gordon's Sebring

(with numbers AN5-14849 and 7080AC)

[The above identification numbers were, after Sebring, in 1960 transferred to another Sprite which took part in the Alpine Rally, then on to yet another sold in September 1960 to Jack Wheeler]

See web page: "moss60sebring" from which the following continues:

After Sebring, Moss's then red and white race car was delivered to local BMC dealer Ship & Shore Motors of West Palm Beach (still bearing its UK registration plate 7080AC which was later applied to another car in England and raced and rallied by Jack Wheeler and Martin Davidson). It is believed the dealer subsequently sold it to Tom Bratten who entered it at Sebring the following year wearing No.9 (see photo right - note forward-hinging bonnet and go-faster stripe!). Tom Bratten retired after completing 39 laps of the 1961 4 Hour FIA GT race, the front runners achieving 59 laps of the course - Sebring Sprites finished 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th behind the two Fiat-Abarths.

It is believed the car was damaged during another race at Sebring, after which it was repaired and repainted (or more probably, re-shelled) in metallic blue. See correspondence under "Your Comments" in Nov/Dec 2013. Next owner of the blue car, Jerry Miller describes Bratten: - "Tom owned a small sports car/ race car shop in West Palm Beach called AutoTechnia.  He was from Dayton, Ohio I believe.  Tom was a great guy and a very knowledgeable sports car enthusiast.  Unfortunately, he was a terrible businessman.  He did all the work on the car while AutoTechnia was operating.  The shop went broke and I believed he moved back to Ohio.  I think his father had funded the entire cost of the operation and lost a lot of money.  He also owned the Nassau Sprite, which I also had for a while."

In 1962 the car was sold by AutoTechnia, to J. Jerome (Jerry) Miller who tells me that he raced it for two seasons in the G-Production (Series) at SCCA events in Florida and Georgia. He won the 1963 SCCA Florida Region Championship with this Sprite. He always raced it open and with a racing screen. He later moved to Jacksonville and sold the car to an Air Force jet pilot by the name of Charlie Fritz. He learned a year later that while being towed to a race meeting the car had dropped off its trailer and had been destroyed. However this information  proved to be inaccurate as the car has since re-appeared albeit in need of extensive restoration. [As mentioned above Jerry Miller also once owned the Falcon-bodied Sprite known in the States as the Nassau Sprite, which raced in the 12 Hour race that same weekend at Sebring in 1960, driven by Sprinzel and Lumkin (Moss only practiced it as he was racing a 'birdcage Maserati'). Despite suffering a blown head gasket the car soldiered on to win its class. It later raced at Le Mans.]

When Jerry owned this race Sprite it had a number of special features, including: "Front disc brakes, wire wheels, (?aluminium) forward-hinging hood (bonnet), close ratio transmission, Stage five engine, competition gas (fuel) filler, roll-over bar, competition seats, - it was right-hand drive with Nardi steering wheel, and had competition gauges".

Through until the early '70's Charlie Fritz and his son Tim raced "7080AC" first in Florida and then in East Coast SCCA events (HP). The HP logo, which is still on the side of the car, stands for the "H" Production Class which at the time was the SCCA racing class for production sports cars less than 1000cc, and London Auto Services, also still on the car,  was a Northern Virginia auto service firm specializing in English cars that sponsored the Fritz' racing. Their racing with the car came to a close after another race accident following which it was put into storage. It has apparently remained with Charlie Fritz for all the intervening years and we assume he intended to re-build it some day.

Sadly Charlie Fritz died in recent years  in a motor-cycle accident after which his son, Tim, decided to sell his Sprite. He offered it to a colleague Ron Gordon who had shown a lot of interest in it over the years. Ron, with his son Rob, has acquired the car, many components of which are in boxes needing restoration and re-assembly. From the recent photos one can see that the rear bodywork was extensively damaged when the car fell off its trailer.

Ron Gordon wrote on 24th Jan 2009: "We are in the depth of winter here on the East Coast (of USA) so I am able to make progress on the Sprite.  There are several vintage meets this year that the Sprite competed in, in SCCA trim, so I have decided to do an interim restoration to the SCCA HP configuration before returning to the Sebring configuration.  I have the engine at the machine shop.  The lower end is being built to Sebring specs...flat top pistons etc.  After disassembling the head I found a lump of weld in the No.3 intake (see picture, right).  Could this be the repair Geoff Healey referred to making at Sebring? This head has (2) cracks in very thin areas which will be difficult to repair.  In the interim I am installing a 1098 head that was used in SCCA.  The bonnet was soda blasted which revealed considerable amount of damage and repeated repairs on the right fender (wing) (again see picture right).  When I removed the paint it revealed layers of red (original?) white (Tom Bratten?) in addition to two shades of metallic blue paint (Jerry and the Fritz's).  I imagine the restoration shop will separate the fenders from the center section to properly straighten and install new welting.  The gas tank has been removed and is in excellent condition...no internal rust, residue or damage (again pictured right).

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March 2012 Update. Ron reports:-

"This winter I was able to disassemble the car and catalog the parts.  I intend to update you in sections beginning with this e-mail which relates to the body shell.  To an earlier question there is no evidence (holes) that a Commission plate on the front left diagonal structural member or a body plate adjacent to the left door hinges existed.  49270 is stamped on the right cowl once I removed the wiring harness.  The Florida Title is for 14849.  I have the body shell mounted on a rotisserie (pic attached). The shell has its share of plastic filler from racing incidents as well as hastily repaired body damage in the rear. There is very minor surface rust on the underside lightly coated with a combination of grease/oil and sandy soil which is understandable since the car was raced in the southeast US.  The underside is painted what is now a low gloss black.  The cowl and the interior are comprehensively painted silver.  There is no paint on any components, body plugs, wiring etc leading me to the conclusion that the body was a bare shell before being painted.  The exterior is painted with several coats of blue/green.  The doors are painted the blue/green inside and out with evidence of red underneath.  The rear pan is cut out to accept the double tank (pic attached).  A mounting plate for two electric fuel pumps is mounted in the right rear (pic attached).  There are holes on the rear deck and mounting points for two versions of roll bars.  The single hoop (Jerry Miller) and a full width bar installed by the Fritz's to conform to SCCA regulations. The 7080AC number (license) plate was affixed to the car and damaged in an incident (pic attached).  The hood (bonnet) was converted to allow hinging from the front.  I certainly welcome comments, questions, recommendations etc. More to follow. Regards Ron."

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The red and white Moss car at Sebring in 1960
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Re-painted for Bratten at Sebring the following year
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The Sprite at Marlboro
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and at Virginia Raceway
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The two pictures above and two below were kindly supplied by Jerry Miller and show his time with the car
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The car as purchased
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and at Cumberland Md Historics in July 2008
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'works' double fuel tank
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The hole in the boot floor to take the double fuel tank
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Fuel pumps mounting plate
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Battered rear no. plate
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The body on the rotisserie