The Austin-Healey Sprite Mark II (Series HAN6 & HAN7) was produced between 1961 and 1964. The Mark II was quite differently styled than the Bugeye, its rather awkwardly-looking predecessor. The Sprite Mark II’s headlights were now placed in a more conventional spot and fenders, or “wings”, as well as a trunk or boot lid, was now added for easier access to the car’s trunk. The Mark II is a handsome car, though less striking than the Bugeye.
Austin-Healy made two variations of its Mark II, the HAN6 model that came with the 948cc engine that was also found in the Bugeye (though with 3 more BHP at 46). The company produced 20,450 examples of the HAN6 Series.
In the fall of 1962, the HAN7 Series was launched and though identical in looks and dimensions, it came with a considerable performance upgrade. The HAN7 contained a bigger engine of 1098cc that resulted in 56BHP and the car was also outfitted with disc brakes at the front to better handle the extra power. In total, Austin-Heley made 11,215 HAN7 Series examples. All of the company’s Sprite Mark II cars were roadsters with side curtains and a detachable top.
This model was named “Mark II” to set it apart from the first Sprite, the “Bugeye” which then was retroactively named “Mark I.” The Mark II looked almost exactly like the famous MG Midget which came at a more expensive tab as well.
Like the Austin-Healey Bugeyes, over the years quite a few Sprite Mark II cars were used extensively on club racing circuits and were, consequently, extensively modified for racing purposes. These cars usually have been significantly damaged and often repeatedly repaired, so if you want to acquire a Mark II, please beware of cars that have a racing history.
With later Sprites, engine and/or transmission swaps from later models were rather common but, though these swaps have usually considerably upgraded the car’s performance, they have not significantly changed the car’s character or heritage. The newer engines were, after all, just further developments and improvements of the identical Austin A-Series engines so only rarely you find people that would object. It goes without saying that, because of all these modifications, despite the enormous number of Mark II Sprites that were made, strictly original cars are a rare find these days. More information about the Austin-Healey Motor company is available in this article.
The Mark II offers great fun at an affordable price and there is nobody that does not love the car. They are pretty easy to maintain and even today, an extensive and vital number of spare parts is available and support is easy to find. The Mark II can be purchased for less than the Bugeye while the car delivers the same (or better) phenomenal driving experience.
On the other hand, the Mark II may be too cramped to fit in taller drivers like the 1oo Series, it doesn’t offer any real comfort, and protection from bad weather is definitely not at its best. Mind you, the Austin-Healey Mark II is often mistaken for its somewhat more expensive cousin, the MG Midget, but I guess that wouldn’t upset you. The Mark II is overall a pretty nice and fun car to drive, but if weather protection is an issue, just look for a later model Sprite that also comes with a bit more power. And if it has to be a Mark II model, be aware that the HAN7 Series is preferable because of its more powerful motor and disc brakes at the front.