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PDLJMPR's Sprite Hall of Fame

PDLJMPR Web Magazine, September 1, 1996
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"Belle", John Nelson's 1964 MKIII Sprite
A Newly Completed Dark-green Beauty!

Click on any of the following images for a full-size view

"The entire ordeal started in November, 1991. We made a trip to my wife's aunt's house for Thanksgiving dinner. When we pulled up, I noticed a little convertible in the driveway. It was covered with bondo and primer, but upon close inspection I discovered it was a 1964 Austin Healey Sprite MKIII. In order to get me in the house, to eat dinner, my wife agreed to buy the car for $500.00. (With the condition that it be painted British Racing Green) My wife's uncle had originally bought the car to restore, but decided to sell it because they were planning on moving. We had to trailer it home as it hadn't been driven in 17 years.

This was my first attempt at totally refurbishing a British car. My first priority was to get Belle in drivable condition and have her registered. I went thru the brake system and filled it with silicon brake fluid. After having the master cylinder resleeved by Apple, it was still leaking. I flushed the system and again replaced all the seals and refilled it with Dot 4 brake fluid - no more leaks! I rebuilt the carbs, went thru the ignition system and the engine fired right up. By January, 1992, she was registered and ready to go.

I drove her for the next 3 years and slowly went thru the suspension, gear box and electrical system. The summertime temperatures here can reach about 110 degrees, so I added an oil cooler. I also changed the radiator from the stock down flow to the later cross flow, which resulted in a tremendous difference in temperature.

In February, 1996 I decided it was time to finish it up. I stripped it down to a bare shell and removed all previous layers of paint, bondo and primer by hand. (Using a wire wheel and lots of sand paper) Before starting on the body, I bought a MIG welder and did a lot of practicing! The MIG is surprisingly easy to use. I replaced the driver's side rocker panel and the cowl due to DPO damage. I turned the car upside down to work on the bottom. After I primered and painted it, I turned it back over and did the interior and the engine compartment. While doing some minor bodywork myself, I discovered the rear passenger fender and back end had been damaged well beyond my ability to repair. I located an auto body repairman willing to work on my car during his "off" hours. While he finished the exterior body work, I had the seats re-upholstered and the chrome work done. I recovered the interior panels using notes from your tech info tips. (Not the first time those tips came in handy!) I also replaced the carpeting, cleaned up the gauges and repainted the dash.

The car was painted in the garage on July 4, 1996. I started reassembling her with the goal of being ready in time for the Moss Motors British Car Festival on July 18. I finished in time to make the 250 mile trip to Moss.

I had a trouble-free journey and, to my surprise, came home with 2nd in Class! (Against 12-14 bugeyes and 1 other square body)

Thanks to everyone on the SOL list for their helpful tips and insights. I still have several things on my to-do list, of course, but then British cars are never done!"

John Nelson
1964 Austin Healey MKIII "IMNO MGT"
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