Austin-Healey’s Sprite Mark III was produced in the years 1964-1966 (Series HAN8). The Mark III was actually Austin-Healey’s transition model between its predecessor (the Mark II) and the Mark IV convertible, its follow-up model. Whereas the Mark III came with roll-up windows like a convertible, the car still came with a button-down, easily detachable, soft top like a roadster.
The Mark III was absolutely an improvement regarding protection from bad weather conditions but it still wasn’t a real convertible. The car was just as handsome as Austin-Healey’s Mark II Sprite and it came with the same engine (1098cc) as the Mark II HAN7 Series, though this time, the engine produced 3 more horsepower (59BHP). In total, Austin-Healey made 25,905 examples of the Mark III Series.
Just like Austin-Healey’s Sprite Mark II, this model had had a twin from the MG Midget family, the MG Midget Mark II. This time as well, there were hardly any differences and if there were any, they were mainly unimportant or irrelevant. Both cars came now with lockable doors as well!
In the same way as its predecessor, the Mark II, a lot of Mark III models were extensively heavily used through the years on club racing circuits. So consequently, they were extensively adapted and modified, and many of them have been through significant damage and were repaired, often repeatedly. So when purchasing an Austin-Healey Mark III, beware of cars that have a racing history. Read more about Austin-Healey here.
Also with the Mark III, engine and transmission swaps with younger Sprites models were quite common. But in general, this sort of drivetrain swaps meant that the performance of the cars was significantly upgraded without changing or hurting their character or heritage. As you’ll understand, these later engines are only further developments and improved versions of Austin’s Series A engines which, I guess, nobody would have any objections against. So if you want to get hold of a good Austin-Healey Mark III example (despite the high number of Mark III Sprites that were produced), be sure to acquire a good one while avoiding cars that have a racing history.
The Austin-Healey Mark III offers a lot of fun at a reasonable price and is relatively easy in maintenance. You can only difficultly find someone who doesn’t like these cars, and spare parts are pretty easy to get hold of as well. You can get a Mark III for less money than a “Bugeye” while the car’s performance is at least as good as the Bugeye’s and it comes with far better protection against bad weather influences.
Like the Mark II and the original “Bugeye”, this model is probably too cramped and small for tall drivers or passengers. The Mark III is very often mixed up with an MG Midget but that shouldn’t be bothering you at all. This transition model is a true, classic Austin-Healey Sprite, though it may be on the market for slightly less than its follow-up, the Mark IV, or the Bugeye, though its performance and comfort are relatively in order.