During a discussion with Donald Healey and his son Geoffrey in 1955, BMC boss Leonard Lord suggested the possibility of building a small sports car based on the Austin A35. Thus began the story of the “Frogeye” Sprite. It began to take shape in 1956, and in 1957, on New Year’s Day, George Harriman, the future successor to Leonard Lord, was shown the prototype of the Model AN5, known in the house as the ADO (Austin Drawing Office) project. 13. The first of 48,999 MK Is appeared on January 31, 1958. The Sprite name had previously been used by Riley and Daimler and was suggested by Donald Healey.

The cheeky shape of the little car, with protruding headlights protruding from the enormous one-piece hood that resembled the eyes of frogs, came from the drawing board of Gerry Coker, Healey’s designer. Technically, the Sprite was pretty ordinary; an all-steel monocoque construction with double wishbones, coil springs and finger-operated shock absorbers at the front and, at the rear, side ellipticals arranged under the reaction bars retaining the solid axle, plus telescopic ones . We managed to extract 42.5 hp from the slightly modified 948 cc A35 engine. Production of the Sprite was entrusted to MG director John Thornley in Abingdon, where it was assembled. The frame came from John Thompson Motor Pressings in Wolverhampton and the rest from Pressed Steel Company in Swindon, while the engine and transmission came from Coventry.