1961 - 1964
Series HAN6 and HAN7
The Austin-Healey Sprite Mark II was a clear styling departure from its rather quirky-looking predecessor, the Bugeye. The headlights were moved to a more conventional location in the "wings" (fenders to us Yanks), and a boot lid (trunk lid) was added to make access to the boot more convenient. It is a handsome although certainly less striking car.
There were two variants of the Mark II. The first was the Series HAN6 model which retained the same 948 cc engine as the Bugeye, although with three more horsepower at 46. 20,450 examples were produced. Then in late 1962 the Series HAN7 was introduced. Although identical in appearance, it had an important performance upgrade in the form of a 1098 cc engine that produced 56 hp, and the addition of front disc brakes to help handle the added power. 11,215 examples were produced. All Sprite Mark II models were roadsters, retaining side curtains and an easily detachable folding top.
Dubbed "Mark II" to differentiate it from the original Bugeye Sprite which was only retroactively dubbed "Mark I," the Sprite Mark II had a nearly identical twin wearing the famous MG octagon: the MG Midget. Beginning with this model and continuing throughout the reminder of Sprite production (and beyond) the MG Midget was a slightly upscale badge-engineered counterpart. Curiously, while the big Healey was a more expensive car than the MGA and MGB that were produced contemporaneously with it, the MG Midget was the more expensive, slightly upscale variant between the Midget and Sprite.
Differences between the Sprite and Midget were, however, few. Besides the different badge, the Midget had a vertical slatted grill, thin chrome accent strips along the sides and on the bonnet, better seats and flecked rubber floor mats. The original Midget is the counterpart of the Series HAN6 Sprite, and the Midget 1100 is the contemporary of the Series HAN7 Sprite.
(Because of the nearly identical nature of the Sprite and Midget, long ago someone combined the names to form "Spridget" to denote the genre. This term stuck and is now used to describe all Sprites and Midgets combined.)
Just like the Bugeyes, many Sprite Mark II 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.
Because of all this, despite the high number of Mark II Sprites produced, strictly original examples are now somewhat difficult to find.
Upside: Great fun-to-expense ratio. Everyone loves them. Easy to maintain. 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.
Downside: Still no creature comforts to speak of, and weather protection is still not the best. Perhaps too cramped for taller drivers and passengers. Often mistaken for an MG Midget, if that bothers you.
Bottom line: Although a fine car in its own right, probably better to go for a later Sprite with better weather protection and more power. Among the Mark II models, the Series HAN7 is clearly preferable for its more powerful engine and front disc brakes.