being built and prepared for rallying
Paul tells the story: "My interest in Sebring Sprites all started when I met Brian Archer and Andrew Forster at their premises in Birmingham (back in 2007/8). I had found their address on the internet while looking for a Monza Bonnet, and when speaking to these two gentleman, it became clear to me that what I really wanted was to own a beautiful fastback Sebring Sprite with single duct Monza bonnet ~ the ultimate car in my opinion.
As Archers had a lot of work on at the time, they could not immediately produce a car for me. Then very sadly, Brian Archer was taken away from us. I was not quite sure if the company would recover from this great loss. Happily, Andrew took over and in March 2009 I asked him to give me a price to build my Sebring Sprite. At that time I planned to use as the donor car, an Austin Healey Sprite Mk2, a completely rust-free and original car which I bought as an abandoned project. Andrew advised me to keep it, as good ones are not easy to find anymore. So I had to look for another donor, and as always, when you are want something urgently, you can't find it. I watched eBay almost every evening without any luck. Finally I found a suitable Dutch-plated car in Belgium for a more than reasonable price. It was a dark red 1973 MG Midget Mk3, built for the United States. The car looked very good and original, and after some minor work, I was able to have it tested and obtain its Belgium paperwork and plates ~ this in September 2009. We've since done two rallies with the car, which behaved very well and without problems. It will soon become my new Sebring Sprite in Aston Martin Green, with wire wheels !!
I asked Andrew when I could bring the car in, but he told me to have patience. Finally, the time came for me to strip the car down and take it to Birmingham, in February 2010. We discussed what had to be done and some parts were ordered. It will have aluminum skinned doors, an Archers Garage full roll cage and Sebring seats in black with off-white piping. The inside of the fastback roof will be covered with fabric and there will be original side screens from Archers.
The body-shell needed to be cleaned on the underside and then sand-blasted. That took some time, so we visited Andrew several times to discuss the car, and enjoy the other cars that were around. Andrew is a very skilled and experienced man with a lot of knowledge of these cars. We discussed problems I was facing with my original Frogeye Sprite, which I had finished restoring in the meantime. We always have lot of chatting and fun when we meet up with Andrew at his garage.
Now big progress is being made, the body has been sand-blasted, and new outer sills are fitted. The cage mountings are welded in, and at present we are waiting for a new Mk1 scuttle and A-post, to finish the welding on the car. Last week, when we visited Andrew, he told us that the car would be ready by the end of this year. (March 2012).
On the right are some pictures of the original car, the stripped down shell and the car as it is now. I have already cleaned and restored a lot of the parts and made a new dash for the car.
It will be a beautiful LHD car when finished, which we intend to use for rallying. The engine will be a 1275 cc. with a modified head and LCB exhaust. It will have twin SU carbs or, when needed, a twin-choke Weber 40. The head will be modified by Andrew who had advised me to have as much power from the engine as possible. So let’s see what the result will be.
While all this has been going on, my wife fell in love with a Lenham coupe with Ashley bonnet, so we ordered a set of panels from Classic Cars of Kent, and have bought a 1972 MG Midget Mk3 donor car from Scotland. I plan to build that car myself with some help from Andrew Forster, but to be honest it will be some time before I will be able to start on that project.
13th May 2013 Update: "I have just come home from UK. We collected the Sebring Sprite at Archers. It looks really good in the Aston Martin Green coat of paint. Now it is up to me to get the car finished as soon as possible".
The donor car -
- a 1973 MG Midget
Stripped for repair and -
- for sand-blasting
In primer and with -
The new dashboard
On its way home