The Bugeye Sprite spare tire tray mystery

We’ve never seen a Bugeye Spare tire tray before, yet it was shown in the original Bugeye sales brochure. Did they exist on early cars and then rot away? Or were they simply a pre-production idea that was in reality too much trouble to make for such an inexpensive sports car? Fact or fiction, we set out to make a spare tire tray for our very early concours Bugeye, AN5L 552, particularly since the tray is listed as a requirement in the Austin Healey concours registry restoration guide.

The numbering sequence is confusing and out of order. Production of Bugeye Sprites officially began in March of 1958 with AN5L 501, and that car and all to follow had welded rear supports. But there were about 5 cars to come before 501, and all of these have bolted rear supports. AN5L 552 is one of these cars.

The first prototypes were registered January 31, 1958. An5 507 (PBL 75, which is the number plate you see in all the early promotional photos) is the most well known prototype because it was used for all the Austin Healey Sprite advertisements. That RHD car is alive and well in England. Our car is one of the first left hand drive Sprites, and could be the first Sprite to come to the states. We believe it to have been built in February of 1958. Presumably, the brochure (showing the tray) was completed around the same time.

We may never know if any spare tire trays were made, or if a few were made and then the concept was abandoned. Either way, it was fun to create one from the Sprite brochure and technical drawings that we have.

Come see us at the Lime Rock Historical Festival and Concours this Sunday August 31!

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