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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

XOH276-8

XOH 276

XOH 276 ~ Works Sebring Sprite

the DHMC prepared, Tommy Wisdom rally car

Built on 25th November 1958, XOH 276 was prepared by Donald Healey and his team for the 1959 Monte Carlo and Alpine rallies. Its early history is detailed in John Sprinzel and Tom Coulthards' book "Spritely Years":-

“Cherry/Colorado Red. Car prepared by the Donald Healey Motor Company at the Cape Works, Warwick. 1959 Monte Carlo and Sestriere Rallies (with number plates XOH277). Equipped with wire wheels for the 1959 Alpine Rally (and probably also Girling disc brakes). Later loaned or sold to Cecil Winby of BRICO, the British Piston Ring Company, who co-drove a works big Healey with Tommy Wisdom in the last ‘true’ Mille Miglia in 1957. Advertised for sale from Lancaster Mews in November 1961 (when it definitely had discs), this car is known to have survived in relatively original condition into the late 70’s when it was still being used in club racing, owned by Bob Slessor. It is believed to have been sold to Germany”.

Top photo right shows John Sprinzel, with hands on hips, conferring with Tommy Wisdom on the 1959 Monte Carlo Rally. Sprinzel, co-driving with Willy Cave, finished 14th overall and third in class, while Wisdom, sharing XOH 276 with Douglas Johns, was 63rd overall and fifth in class. The other two cars of Baxter/Reece and Wilson-Spratt/ Baylies both retired. [Photo courtesy of "The Sprites & Midgets" by Eric Dymock]

Photo 2: Tommy Wisdom and Douglas Johns in the 1959 Monte Carlo rally. Note the standard grille has been opened up for extra cooling. [Picture and caption courtesy of "More Healeys" by Geoffrey Healey]

Photo 3: Wisdom and Johns at a control on the 1959 Monte. [Courtesy of "BMC/BL Comps Dept" by Bill Price]

Photo 7: Assistance for Tommy Wisdom (bending) to change a wheel, 1959 Sestrieres Rally. [Courtesy of "BMC/BL Comps Dept" by Bill Price]

Photo 8: A thoughtful Marcus Chambers, BMC's team manager, Tommy Wisdom and Donald Healey ponder on their works car's performance on the Alpine Rally. [Courtesy of "The Sprites & Midgets" - Eric Dymock]

Photo 10: One of the two Mk 1 Sprites built especially for rally work at Warwick, on the Alpine Rally driven by journalists Tommy Wisdom and Jack Hay. It finished second overall in the GT category. [Photo & caption courtesy of "More Healeys" by Geoffrey Healey]

Photo 11: The motoring press gather round of the soon-to-retire team of Sprites during the Alpine Rally, in June 1960. This is the Tommy Wisdom/Jack Hay car, and while Hay wearing a soft hat, peers beneath the uplifted bonnet, Wisdom, in peaked cap, talks to Courtenay Edwards, facing the camera, Harold Nockolds, facing Wisdom  in plastic raincoat, and smartly suited Basil Cardew - a gathering composed entirely of past and future Chairmen of the Guild of Motoring Writers.
 [Courtesy of "The Sprites & Midgets" - Eric Dymock]  

Competition Results  for XOH 276 - 1959

Comp No.

Event Dates Driver Navigator Class Overall
185 Monte Carlo Rally 18 - 25 Jan Tommy Wisdom Douglas Johns 5th 63rd
310 Sestriere Rally 23 - 26 Feb Tommy Wisdom Tony Lucas 1st* 39th
86 Alpine Rally 23 - 30 Jun Tommy Wisdom Jack Hay 2nd**  


A sister car XOH 277 (photo 12) was built on 25/11/ 1958 and was Old English white. Its registration plates were swapped on to XOH 276 by the Competition Department for some rallies (this is described on pages 153 & 213 of "Spritely Years"). It was also prepared at the Cape, but was never a Sebring and was one of the two cars which retired  in the 1959 Monte Carlo Rally, driven by Baxter/Reece. In this photo (No.11, right) you can clearly see the Donald Healey works hardtop with the deeper side-screens and only 1 deepened (BMC hardtop has 2) line above the rain edge. The steel front bonnet of XOH 277 shows the standard opening handle which is missing on the GRP bonnet of XOH 276, which opened forwards. [Photo courtesy  of "More Healeys"  by Geoffrey Healey.] 

The registration/continuation book (of XOH 276) shows that an owner who bought the car in Jan 1972 was Derek Grant of Wallington, Surrey ~ a secretary of Southern Counties Austin Healey Club around that time. It was by then light metallic blue with a white hardtop. In 1979 it was MOT tested by Henry Streeter Automotive Ltd in Beckenham, Kent (presumably for  Bob Slessor who owned the car by that time).

I recall seeing XOH competing at Lydden Hill circuit in Kent about 1979 when it was racing against me in my Frogeye.  Soon after that the car was sold to its first German owner, Hubertus Hueppauf (January 1980). I gather that he "raced it  many times at circuits ‘up in the North’ like Spa Francorchamps where he once won a race in pouring rain despite its mere 1300cc engine (and split-Webers) in the up to 3000cc class.  He also took the car to Erding, Munich where, according to a subsequent owner Gerhard Hutzler, it could “eat” a devilishly fast Lotus Elite, ~ a Bavarian champion!" In the late 1980’s scrutineers demanded that the bodywork of XOH be overhauled and Hubertus took the car back to England for restoration and it was then re-sprayed in red. Following its return to Germany Hubertus found himself unable to continue with his racing due to professional commitments and the car was stored.

Gerhard Hutzler, an automobile engineer living near Munich in Bavaria, bought XOH in January 1990, and set up the Bavarian Antique Racing Team to give himself and his wife some low-cost racing. However his racing plans came to nothing and after years of storing the car he eventually decided to place it on the market once again together with a number of spares. Still right-hand drive, the car retained its Sebring bonnet and 'works' hardtop with its taller side-screens, but now had a 1300 engine with split-Weber carburettors.

The car was bought in September 2008 by Robert Visser from Holland, and he is in the process of carrying out its full restoration.

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XOH276-1
Wisdom/Johns 1959 Monte
XOH276-2
2. Note opened out grille
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3. At one of the controls
Monte Carlo Rally
4.
XOH Monte
5.
XOH
6.
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7. 1959 Sestrieres Rally
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8. 1959 Alpine RallyXOH
9. The sister car using XOH 276 plates, Raymond Baxter, 1959 Monte Carlo
XOH276-710. Wisdom/Hay on '59 Alpine
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11. 1960 Alpine RallyXOH276-12
12. Sister car XOH 277
XOH276-9
In Germany c.1980
XOH276-10

XOH276-14
In Gerhard Hutzler's...
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...ownership, around 2008
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Hubertus Hueppauf on left with Gerhard Hutzler,1990