Restoring the Sprite’s Front Suspension | Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite Project

An Austin-Healey Sprite’s suspension is simple but, like that also found on an MGB, rather unique in that it doesn’t feature upper A-arms. The lever arm shock absorber simply acts as the upper locating device.

It’s simple yet, judging by all of the wins, obviously effective. Early Sprites also didn’t employ anti-roll bars. The front wheel bearings are rather simple, too.


Fortunately upgraded hardware exists. The Winner’s Circle offers a ¾-inch front anti-roll bar kit, and Moss Motors sells a kit that replaces the original wheel bearings with modern tapered roller bearings. We ordered both for our Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite project.

While you can replace that antiquated lever shock setup with a more modern tube shock conversion, the lever shocks work just fine if rebuilt properly. We sent ours to Apple Hydraulics for a revalved to heavy-duty specs.

We also ordered a lowering kit from Moss Motors that lowers the spring perches about a quarter of an inch. This is said to lower the entire front end by about half an inch.

The stock coil springs are rated at about 271 lbs./in. While 340 lbs./in. springs are a common upgrade, we decided to start with the stock springs as we’re going to lighten the car a bit–no front bumper, for example.

For suspension bushings, we went with Moss Motors’ harder lower A-arm bushings and The Winner’s Circle offset upper A-arm bushings in order to get more negative camber and thus better handling.

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wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
9/28/21 11:48 a.m.
Tim Suddard said:
 

An Austin-Healey Sprite’s suspension is simple but, like that also found on an MGB, rather unique in that it doesn’t feature upper A-arms. The lever arm shock absorber simply acts as the upper locating device.

Well the MGB has an A arm - it is simply attached to the shock body rather than bolted to the chassis.

Agree that the single locating arm used on the Spridgets posed other issues. People seemed to have managed them pretty well - things involving the quarter eliptics on the rear of early models etc., and the single locating arm on the front held up amazingly well except on cars running big sticky modern race rubber.

The whole car was basically the mechanicals from an Austin A35 swapped onto a new monocoque with a few changes.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
9/30/21 8:25 a.m.

In reply to wspohn :

Totally agree. Shocking how this crude set up has endured and worked so well.

 

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