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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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The Late Douglas Wilson-Spratt

Tony Wilson-Spratt and his son, Tony
WSM 208
WSM 208
(built in 2009)

WSM Sprites and a Midget

~ produced by Douglas Wilson-Spratt

See also: WSM 50 WSM Sanction 2

 

Douglas Wilson-Spratt sadly collapsed and died while out with friends earlier this, his 90th, year (2011). He had had a long and fruitful life during which he was constantly planning, designing and creating everything from cars, caravans, houses, motorhomes, and gardens to aircraft, ~ his aim always being to give them his "treatment in the pursuit of betterment in function and form". His engineering background with the Bristol Aircraft Company included experience as a test driver for the car division which became a passion for motorsport. In 1954 Douglas and his wife Laurette sold their Marlborough Caravan business and bought a garage in Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire they renamed Delta Garage. The garage had an Austin, Vauxhall and Bedford dealership to which was added Volvo. In 1961 Peter Jackson joined the firm to run the forecourt and workshop and the following year Jim McManus came from the Donald Healey Motor Co where he had been sales manager. Both Douglas and Jim having had success with Healeys, they decided the marque needed a London presence and established the Healey Centre in Swiss Cottage. The business expanded and soon outgrew its premises so was relocated within Delta Garage in 1963. Douglas had started in motorsport in 1946 with a 3 litre Bentley, then a 4½ before trialling an Austin 7 Chummy and racing with a Triumph TR2.

He took delivery of one of the first Austin-Healey Sprites on May 16th 1958 in advance of its public release and ran VBM 7 in at night before taking the model to its first competition success on May 24th on a Sporting Owner Drivers Club rally with John Bayliss as navigator. He took a Frogeye Sprite on the Monte Carlo in 1959 and '60, a 'Sebring' version in '61 and '62, and a WSM in 1963.

VBM 7 became DWS 97 and was modified by the fitting of an aluminium coupé body built by Peel Coachworks, incorporating Rolls Royce rear lights and a bootlid. It was with the car in this form that Douglas joined the team of Sprites which won the 6 Hour Relay Race at Silverstone in 1961. [The bodywork from that car was later fitted to XNB 712]

When Peter Jackson's standard-bodied Sebring Sprite 46 BXN was burnt out in a rally fire Douglas assisted in the design of a new aluminium body crafted by Peel Coachworks and fitted with a Speedwell Monza bonnet. When viewed from the rear the distinct similarities between BXN and the WSM cars are quite apparent. BXN was effectively the fore-runner of Douglas's series of WSM Sprites, the first of which (WSM 201) was revealed at Silverstone in October, 1962 (see below).

The WSM Sprite

In 1962 Douglas Wilson-Spratt and Jim McManus produced the first of their special-bodied Sprites to subsequently be called WSMs, now generally known as Wuzzums, using the initials of their two surnames. The immediate interest in the car led to the production of nine cars for owners in the UK, Europe and the USA, with aluminium bodies being constructed by Peel Coachworks. WSM 201 and 203 also had aluminium bonnets while all the other cars had fibreglass ones. Two ultra-lightweight bodies were built in fibreglass by Ray Halsall for Douglas (WSM 206) and club racer Mike White (WSM 205). Three cars were built to GT specification, intended to be comfortable grand touring cars which could be raced at weekends and driven to work on Monday. They were heavier than the Sprint model as they retained more of the original Sprite floorpan/chassis. During 1963 four cars were exported: WSM 203 to Dr Clinton Chichester in San Francisco, WSM 204 to Dr George Snively, WSM 207 to Joel Nelson, and WSM 210 to Dr Michael Saverino in Florida. WSM 202 went to Douglas's son-in-law, Mike Lewis, who campaigned it in races and hill-climbs in 1963.

In the hands of Douglas, Mike Lewis, Peter Jackson, MikeWhite and Simon Arkless amongst others, the WSM's became prominent at race circuits throughout the UK and Europe. Mike Lewis took WSM 202 to many wins in race and hillclimb events in 1963, and also raced the ultra-lightweight 206 when Douglas could no longer compete because of disc problems in his back. The 1963 and 1965 Six Hour Relay race's saw WSM's 201 and 206 in the Sprite teams, achieving 8th and 5th, and the same cars for Peter Jackson and DW-S were transported in a converted AEC coach and entered in the 1964 German Grand Prix support race at Nurburgring on August 1st - Peter took 3rd in class and a year later took WSM 206 to 3rd in class in the Rennen 500km at the same venue.

A 10th car, (the body of which Douglas had kept as a spare), WSM 208, was not completed until 2009, 44 years after the original nine. It is now registered with Douglas's old registration DWS 97 and regularly raced by his son Tony. So the list goes something like this:

WSM 8Douglas's Peel-bodied
Sebring SpriteWSM 2Douglas and his team with some of the first WSM Sprites
46 BXN
BXN - fore-runner of the WSM
WSM 201
DWS with WSM 201WSM 202 Mike Lewis in WSM 202
WSM 4
WSM 203 went to the USA,
but is now in Japan
WSM 10
Mike White in WSM 205
WSM 207
WSM 207
WSM 19 WSM 210 in its early days
WSM 6
WSM 301 at the Castle Combe paddock in 1967
WSM 26
A lightened WSM chassis

RECENT PHOTOS
AT FOOT OF PAGE

WSM at Le Mans
"WSMs at Le Mans"
an Article by Clive Cocks
courtesy of "Rev Counter"

Car No. Features First Owner Current Owner History, etc. Current Reg
WSM 201 Aluminium bonnet*
(Sprint spec)
Douglas Wilson-Spratt unknown Sold to a Healey Club member, painted green, then sold Peter Jackson  
WSM 202 (Sprint spec) Mike Lewis
(DWS son-in-law)
Graham Robson (formerly Brian Arculus) MG Midget 1293cc Red with Speedwell stripe (had aluminium bonnet, now f/g) 793 XPP
WSM 203 Alum'm bonnet* (Sprint) Dr Chichester (USA) Masakazu Yahagi Competed SCCA races in period [in Japan]
WSM 204 Exported (GT spec) Dr Snively (USA)   1st of the GTs  
WSM 205 Fibreglass body (Sprint) Mike White [missing] Orig reg MW 3, then VLY 540  
WSM 206 Fibreglass body (Sprint) Douglas Wilson-Spratt [missing] Went to Simon Arkless ~ has extensive competition history.  
WSM 207 Exported (Sprint) Joel Nelson (USA) Now Rae Davis White with blue stripe. 677 EGJ
WSM 208 Fibreglass body (Sprint) Tony Wilson-Spratt Tony Wilson-Spratt Built 2009, 1360cc Chiron Blue DWS 97
WSM 210 Exported (GT spec) Dr Saverino (USA) Clive Cocks 1963, 1300cc, Red (Owned by Leo Kusters 1987 after USA) 609 EGJ
WSM 301 Built 1965 (Sprint) Michael Royde Claire Wilson-Spratt Red (was CTM 644D) WNM 97


* It is thought unlikely any of the original aluminium bonnets survive except possibly that of WSM 203.

This page was compiled from information shown in much greater detail on the WSM Cars website, with many thanks to Tony Wilson-Spratt for allowing me to adapt his text and use some photos.

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WSM 1
WSM 9
WSM 15
WSM 16
WSMs in the Goodwood paddock
Arculus at speed
207 exits Goodwood paddock
208 rounding Druids
WSM 17
WSM 21
WSM 20
WSM 32
With the WSM MGB
207 in the paddock
Trying hard through chicane
Rae Davis in action
WSM 22
WSM 25
WSM 30
WSM 18
DWS inspects 301 on the grid
Tony enjoying 208
207 at Brands
DWS & friends at Goodwood
WSM 27
WSM 31
WSM 28
WSM 29
Similar rear ends!
WSM 202 on track
4 WSMS & BXN head field
Another of WSM 202
Brands 1
Brands 2
Brands 3
Brands 51
Clive Cocks' WSM 210
WSM 202 (Midget) at Brands 2011
Slightly battered 207

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