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Alison's special 1967 Austin-Healey Sprite

Story and photographs By Tom Strongman
www.tomstrongman.com

Alison Dudley and her 1967 Austin-Healey Sprite Mark IV were born in the same month. At least thats how her dad, Joe Egle, figures it.

In 1967 Egle owned Joe Egle Motor Imports in Olathe, and this Sprite arrived in the U.S. on Dec. 29. Counting backwards, he figures the car had to be built in November, and that is the month Alison first blinked her eyes at this world.

The car had a dealer invoice of $1,687.40 and a retail sticker of $2,067.

However, Dudleys Sprite is no ordinary Bugeye, something you cant tell without looking closely. It came into this world as a Mark IV with square front fenders, separate hood, or bonnet as the English would say, roll-up windows, trunk lid and a small space behind the front seats.

Egle loved the look of the original Bugeye, and after hours of cogitation he figured that a Bugeye front-end could easily be swapped for the newer fenders and hood. After removing the front hood and fenders, he bolted on a one-piece Bugeye nose.

To complete the transformation, Egle cut off part of the rear fenders and welded on earlier rear quarter panels complete with old-style taillights. The conversion took 55 new parts at a cost of $250 and about 30 hours of labor.

Egles hybrid Mark IV Bugeye was so special that he decided never to sell it. In 1993, Egle had an auction and his son-in-law, Randy Dudley, bought the Sprite for Alison. While the car has changed hands, it has never left the family.

Alison loves her little Sprite. She took me for a ride, and the ease with which she shifted gears was a testament to her familiarity with the car. Her daughters, Beth and Gretchen, giggle and squeal over the Sprite as if it were a new puppy. While its just a cute little car to some, this special Sprite is a full-fledged member of the Dudley family.

To get in touch with Tom Strongman, send e-mail to tstrongman@kc.rr.com.

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