Lot 24

2013   |   Scottsdale Auctions 2014

1959 Austin-Healey Sprite Mk I

SOLD $48,400


$70,000 - $90,000| Without Reserve



Car Highlights

1963 SCCA One-Liter Champion
Important Ownership and Racing History
Authentic 2008 Restoration Subect of a Featured Article in Classic Motorsports
Accompanied by Extensive Documentation and a BMHT Certificate

Technical Specs

948 CC SOHC Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
Dual SU Sidedraft Carburetors 43+ BHP at 5,200 RPM
4-Speed Close-Ratio, Manual Competition Gearbox
Front Disc Brakes with Rear Drums
Front Independent Suspension with Shock Absorbers
Rear Live Axle with Watts Linkage and Shock Absorbers
Register to Bid

Formerly the Property of Donna Mae Mims

Very few examples of Austin-Healey’s beloved Sprite boast the impressive ownership provenance, competition pedigree, and detailed restoration claimed by this fine example. According to a BMHT certificate, this car was built on April 4, 1959, and dispatched from the factory a month later. Distributed to Paris for retail, the Sprite was reportedly purchased by Dr. Jonas Salk, the famed developer of the polio vaccine, who imported the car to the US and used it as a daily driver around the University of Pittsburgh campus where he worked.

Dr. Salk soon sold the Sprite to Bill Wissel of Pittsburgh, who prepared it for SCCA racing. In 1962, Mr. Wissel then sold the car to its most memorable owner, trailblazing racer Donna Mae Mims, a onetime media relations manager for the legendary Chevrolet performance guru Don Yenko. Also the inspiration for the unforgettable Adrienne Barbeau character in the film The Cannonball Run, Ms. Mims is noted among Yenko enthusiasts for her triumphs in Corvettes, but she first sealed her renown with this Sprite, which she repainted in her trademark pink.

In this charmingly feminine livery, Ms. Mims drove the car to the 1963 H-Production Class SCCA Championship, becoming the SCCA’s first female champion and paving the way for notables from Janet Guthrie and Lyn St. James to Danica Patrick. Ms. Mims’ exploits in the Austin- Healey, appropriately dubbed the “Think Pink” Bugeye Sprite, were the subject of much media coverage, and the consignor has amassed an impressive array of original period articles and publicity prints.

Remaining in the Pittsburgh area, “Think Pink” was purchased by Ross Harris in 1964 and then sold in 1971 to John Francis, who continued racing the car as reflected by an original SCCA logbook. Relocated to the Denver area, the Sprite was eventually put into storage following its final race in 1987.

In 2005, the Healey was purchased by the consignor, a Missouri-based restorer, who conducted an exacting refurbishment that included vast research into the car’s history. With the race-prepared engine (boasting a 16:1 compression ratio) and Camellia Pink exterior restored just in time for display at the 50th Anniversary Sprite celebration at Mid-Ohio in June 2008, “Think Pink” was reunited with Ms. Mims for the first time in 44 years.

As reflected by numerous letters on pink stationery, Ms. Mims played an integral role in tracing various aspects of the Sprite’s 1963 livery, which the consignor went to great lengths to properly restore.

Impressively documented, including coverage in recent issues of Classic Motorsports magazine, this Sprite has experienced minimal use since restoration and could easily be campaigned in vintage heats or appreciated at shows for its overwhelming authenticity and historical significance.