1964 - 1966
The Austin-Healey Sprite Mark III was a transition model between the Mark II roadster that preceded it and the Mark IV convertible that followed it. While the Mark III had the roll-up windows of a "convertible," it still had the easily detachable, button-down soft top of a "roadster." It was a definite improvement in weather protection, but still not quite fully a convertible. Still the same handsome car as its Mark II predecessor, it retained the same 1098 cc engine as the Mark II Series HAN7, although with three more horsepower at 59. 25,905 examples were produced.
Also like the Sprite Mark II, the Sprite Mark III had an MG Midget counterpart; the Sprite Mark III's twin was the MG Midget Mark II. Once again, the differences were few and largely unimportant. These cars also had the first lockable doors of either series.
And just like all of their predecessors, many Sprite Mark III models have been used - hard - in club racing over the years, and consequently have been extensively modified and often significantly damaged and repaired, sometimes repeatedly. Beware a car with a racing history.
Engine swaps with later Sprites are also common, as are transmission swaps from later models. However, these drivetrain swaps significantly upgrade the performance of the car without changing its heritage or character - after all, the later engines are merely further developments of the same Austin A-Series engine - and so few would object.
Therefore, with the relatively high number of Mark III Sprites produced, hold out for a good one, and avoid cars with a race history.
Upside: Still a great fun-to-expense ratio, and still easy to maintain. Everyone loves them. Still a large and vital spare parts and aftermarket support base in place. Available for less money than a Bugeye, while still delivering the same great driving experience. Improved weather protection (although nobody said perfect).
Downside: Perhaps too cramped for taller drivers and passengers. Often mistaken for an MG Midget, if that bothers you. A transition model between the Mark II and Mark IV.
Bottom line: A classic "box Sprite," and possibly available for somewhat less than the Mark IV that replaced it, although all box Sprite prices tend to be in a fairly narrow band.