MASC Sprite 60th at Wroxall Abbey

The Midget and Sprite Club (MASC) celebrated the Austin Healey Sprite’s 60th anniversary of its launch at Wroxall Abbey over the week-end of 24th – 26th August. The venue is about five miles north of Warwick, the County Town which was home to the Donald Healey Motor Company, where the Austin Healey Sprite was conceived as a younger sibling to the renowned Austin Healey 100 and 3000.

For those interested in history, as I am, Wroxall Priory (Abbey is a faux name given by a 16th century owner) was established in the 12th century and in the 16th century was subject to King Henry VIII’s abolition of Roman Catholic institutions. In the early 18th century it was purchased by Sir Christopher Wren (architect of many fine churches including London’s St Paul’s) for his country estate.

The present building, which is now a fine hotel and conference centre, was erected in the second half of the 19th century by a wealthy banker and mill owner from Liverpool, James Dugdale. Dugdale demolished the 16C. manor house and erected the current Victorian Gothic style building.

I am currently writing this on the evening of Saturday 25th August: the weather for Sunday 26th is forecast to be very wet indeed. This is a great shame particularly after experiencing such a hot and sunny couple of months in June and July. With the weather forecast in mind it occurred to me that I should go to the venue this afternoon to see if I could photograph some of the Sprites and Midgets as they returned from their Cotswolds trip, while the sun was shining. A good move I believe, the truth of which will be revealed tomorrow.

It was also worthwhile because I was able to meet all the Club officials that I have been corresponding with over the last few months – Stuart Watson of the Sprite 60th Organising Committee, Dave Warren, the very first person I contacted in April, he is the MASC Central Area rep. and Neil Thomas, editor of Mascot the club magazine. A great bunch of guys. I was also able to chat to a number of Dutch and German visitors. One of the latter was Sven Ekhardt, owner of a replica (Archer) Sebring Sprite. Sven was delighted to show me an article in a recent copy of ‘Revcounter’, the magazine of the Austin Healey Club, which features a story in which Jill Bowman recalls an incident involving Sven, thirty years ago! Even more evidence of how all involving the Healey World is.

Here are some of the photos that I took on Saturday 25th August –

 

Sebring Sprite (Archer) replica

Work in Progress or low maintenance – whatever, it has a certain charm!                                    Thanks to my friend David Scothorn I am able to tell you that the history of this car, up to 2015, is available via an article on the sebringsprite website.

Guests from across the Channel

 

Probably the oldest Sprite at the event and one of the oldest survivors in the World. This car was originally built for the U.S. market in April 1958.

Sven Eckhardt’s Sebring Sprite (Archer ) replica. This car or at least its owner has a tale to tell. Let’s just say that both are lucky to be here to tell it!

Sunday 26th August

So, we got to Sunday 26th August and yes the weather was as awful as was forecast, incessant rain. Funnily enough I was more pleased with the photos that I took today than those taken in sunny conditions on Saturday.

Despite the poor weather two hundred and twenty cars turned up, a terrific result in the circumstances. And the cheerful, friendly spirit of owners that I encountered yesterday still prevailed today. Maybe it’s got something to do with the Mk I Sprite’s ‘smiley face’, you can’t help feeling good when you are around them. I have held this view for sometime.

Here are the photos that I took today –

Pau Hodkinson’s Frogeye Car Company’s Super Sprite.
Another Frogeye Car Company Sprite

Yet another Archer Sebring Sprite replica. I must like them, couldn’t resist photographing them.

The Warwickshire County Record Office brought its Healey Motor Company Archive Display to the event with Rob Eyre and Ben Earl in attendance.

And there was entertainment too – The Vintage Vixens 

 

Summary

It was a thoroughly enjoyable event in spite of the rain on Sunday; it’s a pity we can’t have a Sprite 60th Anniversary every year. But I expect the creative people at the MASC will find some excuse to have another mega get together sometime soon. If they do I hope to be there. Thank you for inviting me this time.

There was also this video made by John Clancy of Triumph DVD –

Nick

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