Theme : Cute Car Hall of Fame – Austin Healey Sprite

The cutest car ever?

Image credit: (c) carfromuk

Has there ever been a more unselfconsciously cute car than the Frogeye Sprite? That grinning air intake, those amphibian headlights and pert form, to the dainty little tail-lights, the little Austin-Healey is about as friendly and cuddlesome as a miniature Schnauzer. Had Pixar created it, it really couldn’t have any more maddeningly lovable.

Despite its manifold charms, somehow the little Frogeye manages to
pull off the near-impossible, deftly skirting the ‘girlie’ jibes so many other diminutive roadsters fall prey to. The Sprite was cute, yes, but also sported a decent set of sports car chops, noted for its well sorted chassis and excellent steering.

Sports Car Illustrated certainly thought so, noting, with the introduction of [the Austin-Healey] BMC have changed the spelling of the word ‘fun’. It’s now a six letter word: Sprite.

Image: uncredited

Its simplicity and light weight allowed the Frogeye to score notable racing successes and demonstrated that cubic inches weren’t always necessary to bring a little joy into your life. At around £700, it was cheap too; sufficiently so that the average chap in a tweed jacket could stretch to one on hire-purchase in the summer of 1958. So like the Mini that followed it just over a year later, the Frogeye was also something of a social leveller.

But frankly all of the above serves as mere sideshow to the real point of the exercise. Just look at it. Cuteness without a trace of pastiche – gentlemen and ladies, all rise in the presence of cute car royalty.

Author’s note: The DTW Cute Car Hall of Fame is now open. Nominate a cute car, write a few lines to back up your assertion and ‘shape the debate’. No pressure though. Only if you’d like to. No really, it’s fine if you don’t…

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

One thought on “Theme : Cute Car Hall of Fame – Austin Healey Sprite”

  1. The Lotus Elan was pretty cute and even early Lamborghinis had a cuteness – the 350GT’s bug eyes and the Miura’s eyelashes. However, today, cuteness isn’t much valued in anything with sporty pretensions

    From Simon’s gallery, it’s obvious that the Japanese are far more comfortable than Northern Europeans with cuteness. Italians used to be pretty cute, but they aren’t so much now – I find the 500 more contrived than cute and the Panda seems to have lost any cuteness it had with in its new version – squircles!

    Despite the above, I’ll concede that, until the Big Three became so leadenly serious, Germany used to be better at cute than Britain – no, not the VW Jeans or that Polo made from salvaged multi-colour body panels, but NSU Sport Prinz, Heinkel Kabine and Amphicar. Even the 230SL was sort of cute – in a way its successors could never be.

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