Sprite Mk1 Restoraton

For years I’ve wanted to write about what all is involved in doing a complete restoration of a Mk1 Sprite. It is amazing the amount of work involved to bring back what essentially is a very bare bones, simple car. I’ll get more into the story of Tom Spangler and his Sprite later on but he brought his car to Speedwell just over a year ago after it sat in his garage for 30 years. We received the Sprite the way it is below.

Tom had been collecting parts for years and along with the car he brought a 1275 engine and ribcase gearbox, front disc brake components, etc. We started with complete disassembly, bagging & tagging, sorting out parts for acid dipping and powder coating, parts to be zinc plated, etc. We cut out rusted out areas of the chassis before sending it out for media blasting to help get bare steel to anywhere it might help.

Once back from blasting, the tub was put up on our rotisserie for replacement of (among many things) front frame rail stubs, floors, tips of all wheel arch corners, door hinge pillars, battery box, etc.

The front left frame rail had some issues and the right front of the bonnet was pretty badly beat up, along with the lower portion of the bonnet being cut-up from a previously but poorly done version of reverse hinging the bonnet.

Here’s a few pics during the rust repair process:

Shown is the rear portion of the left rear fender after the cancer was cut away and below is after the new steel was formed, fitted, welded and ready for primer.

I’m jumping quite a ways ahead here, I’ll try to slow up and write more details in the future and while we do pride ourselves on all of our work I wanted to show all of you what truly competent craftsmen can do¬† – I’m referring to Lanse’s Auto Body who actually removed the fenders from the bonnet structure and made the right front fender go from this:

To this:

Don’t let the fact that the “after” picture here is with the paint on the bonnet – it’s not filled with bondo, I just don’t have the pictures here of it in bare steel.

Here’s the tub back in our shop and starting assembly, beginning with the stainless steel hydraulic lines:

Honestly, ain’t this amazing?!

and take a look at the lower apron here:

and now:

Meanwhile, we were busy restoring the mechanicals:

Rear axle assembly with late model rear brakes

and here’s the 1275 going together which will be just a slightly higher compression and 1967 Cooper S cam.

Been a long time since I updated this. Here it is almost Thanksgiving 2012 and this thing of beauty started on the first crank. Hoping to have it driveable in one more week.

About Tom Colby

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