Newly restored by owner James Thacker and his team
TZA 238 - 1960 Mark 1 Sprite - Chassis AN5/40654
According to Gaydon records, this car was exported in CKD form [in primer] in 1960 to Alec Poole’s family company Booth Poole & Co Ltd, a BMC dealership in Dublin. They assembled and painted it in their unique, light & slightly metallic “ Irish green”, registered it the following year and sold it to a young lady who was to find its steel bonnet too heavy to manage and later traded it in for an MG. Alec, who was then an apprentice with Morris Commercial, took over the car from the family business and used it for speed events, circuit racing and rallying through 1962 to '64 including the Welsh International Rally [12th overall in '64] and the Circuit of Ireland. By this time Poole had obtained a position at Abingdon where he noticed a new Frogeye body-shell in a corner of the yard. The original TZA body having suffered badly from numerous mishaps on night rallies, Poole then re-built TZA into the new chassis.
By 1965, TZA was the first really lightweight circuit racing Sprite (prepared by Paul Ivey including conversion to semi-elliptic rear springs), and the very first Mk 1 to have a 1275cc engine and Minilite wheels. Alec Poole became well-known for his giant-killing acts in the Sprite against the larger sports cars of that era, especially in the wet and at the more twisty circuits. He won more events than any other club racing competitor in 1965/6 and, as a result, became a professional racing driver winning the British Touring Car Championship in 1968 and competing internationally in endurance events in a variety of racing cars.
The car's specification: For 1963/4 the car ran with its original 948cc engine later bored to 994cc in 1963 and then to 998 (Cooper pistons) and supercharged in 1964. Then it was fitted with the 1293c for 65/6. The car was not raced during 67/8, but then came a BMC Competition Dept short-stroke XSP Formula Junior 1071cc engine with 13:1 compression ratio for 1969 to 1976. This capacity was to fit in with the then new Prodsports [later Modsports] and also GT, up to 1150cc, classes. Initially the 1071cc engine was bored out to 1086cc [+20thou], later to 1102 cc [+40thou]. It had a 649 cam and a Cooper S cylinder head modified by Downton and Paul Ivey, 45 DCOE Weber, LCB, FJ clutch and 8 stud flywheel, producing 81 bhp at the wheels. The car then reverted to a 1293cc engine for 1976/7, with 12.5 to 1 c/r, 649 cam, a head modified by Jim Whitehouse of Arden Conversions with 30mm exhaust and 35.5mm inlet valves, offset rockers and a split Weber carburettor set-up. By this time the exhaust was just an LCB with a pipe straight out under the cill. Transmission was a straight-cut close ratio box with a Salisbury or Jack Knight 4.55:1 limited slip differential. Brakes were Girling Ford Escort discs at the front using Cortina 14LF calipers with the usual 8" Riley 1.5 conversion at the rear. The car had uprated 286lb shortened front springs, re-valved dampers, and Healey 3000 anti-roll bar; the rear suspension used Mark 2 Sprite rear springs with a leaf removed, a Panhard rod and anti-tramp bars, and at some stage Poole ran it with rear coil spring damper units. The wheels were Tech Del's 7" Minilites. Bonnet was fibreglass with a headlight removed to duct air to the carburettor, the rear body was also fibreglass and the doors were aluminium. Fitted with a Donald Healey mark 2 hardtop it had a 13" steering wheel, fibreglass bucket seat, Jaguar fuel pump, GT40 high speed wiper motor and 3½ gallon baffled fuel tank.
During 1968-69 TZA was owned and raced by Alec Poole's brother, Arnie Poole and Robin Cochrane before being sold to Edward and James Thacker who are cousins, in 1970. Over the next 7 years they raced it in over 60 Modsports and other events winning the first MG Car Club Midget/Sprite race to be held at Mallory Park in April 1977. Sadly, In July that year TZA was damaged in a test day accident at Silverstone and was put away in a barn where it remained until 2012.
Between 2012 and 2015 James Thacker, Kim Johnson and Robert Nettleton re-built TZA to its original 1960's specification; updating a few necessary items in order to comply with current MSA regulations with suitable roll cage, seat belts, etc.
On March 1st, 2015 - TZA appeared in public for the first time since its extensive restoration at the MG & Triumph spares day at Stoneleigh, in Warwickshire where it was much admired. [Photos: Dennis Wharf]
James gave TZA its first competitive outing at an MGCC Luffield round at Curborough on April 12th, followed on the weekend of 23/24 May 2015 by the Prescott Hill Climb:
James Thacker's best time at Prescott was 54.27 secs. [photos David Morys]
Poole and John Bilton on the Donald Healey Rally in 1962, with Speedwell Monza bonnet
Poole and Bilton again, on the Welsh Rally in June 1964
Roger Enever had a drive.
Alec Poole in an Irish road race, Dunboyne, 1965 or '66.
Alec strapping the car on Paul Ivey's truck, Oulton Park 1966
[photo: Ian Cross]
Arnie Poole, chasing Ian Hall, through North Tower Bend at Crystal Palace in Aug, 1969.
A very young -looking James Thacker at MGCC Brands Hatch in April 1971
A full grid of 18 Spridgets at the start of a 5 lap race at Silverstone 29 May, 1971. L to R are Reg Cole, Malcolm Beer, Jack Kibbler, Jim Pearl, Edward Thacker; and behind, Rob Nettleton with Richard Budd in the ex-works car behind him. On far left behind him is Ernie Foster (Midget) with stripe and Bruce Beer in one of the Jacobs Midgets. Thacker came 4th.
In the wet at Woodcote in the MGCC Midget/Sprite race in 1972.
Edward Thacker on the grid
at Oulton Park, 1971.
Chateay Impney 2016
[Photo: Peter Ritchings]