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Innocenti Spider

Innocenti Spider

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Innocenti Spider
Lot number 123
Hammer value £2,900
Description Innocenti Spider
Year 1966
Colour Red
Engine size 1,098 cc
Chassis No. R507469287R

In 1958 Donald Healey and the British Motor Corporation had launched the Austin-Healey Sprite with the tried and tested A-series engine.

Breathing through twin SU carburettors, a modified cylinder head and sports exhaust, this new small sports car was a lively performer which worked well, with positive rack-and-pinion steering and taut handling. A true ‘parts bin car’, the steering rack was from the Morris Minor and the coil sprung front suspension from the Austin A35. It was, as history tells, a great success with only its cute looks up for discussion.

In 1959, the Lambretta scooter manufacturer, Innocenti of Milan, signed a license agreement with BMC to manufacture their own Italian version of the Austin A40. Assembled from CKD (Complete Knock Down) kits, the cars were well received in Italy and gradually became more home produced. On the back of this success, the company looked at other products from the BMC range to work their Italian style magic on and came up with the Austin Healey Sprite as a likely candidate for a makeover. The Sprite had divided opinion with its oddball looks and earned the nickname ‘Frogeye’ owing to the peculiar mounting position of the headlamps.

Innocenti engaged the services of the young American designer, Tom Tjaarda at Carrozzeria Ghia, to come up with an improved body style for an Italian Sprite. Body manufacture would be handled by the newly formed OSI (Officine Stampaggi Industriali), a company with close links to Ghia which also had financial backing from Olivetti.

To great acclaim the Innocenti 950 Spider was launched in November 1960 at the Turin Motor Show. Compared to the Frogeye Sprite, the 950 Spider had a completely new outer skin over the largely unaltered chassis. The front end housed the headlamps and grill in one neat package. From the side the car had lost its bulbous curvy Healey shape and the rear aped the trend of Italian convertibles in the style of an Alfa Giulietta Spider. It had large lockable doors that housed wind-up windows, an exterior boot lid that could also be locked, and a full width dashboard which also housed a lockable glove box.

A total of 4,790 Spiders (950s) were manufactured up until February 1963, when the new ‘S’ was introduced. The body remained largely unchanged with improvements coming under the bonnet with the arrival of the 1098cc A-series from the Austin Healey Mk2 .The ‘S’ gained disc brakes and revised rear suspension. Just over 2,000 Innocenti 'S' Spiders were produced.

The Innocenti Spider ‘S’ in today’s sale needs complete restoration but offers an exciting opportunity to restore a very rare car. The beauty of this project is that all the mechanical parts are available from leading Healey and MG specialists with only the exotic Ghia bodywork to be resolved. On a brief inspection during cataloguing the body shell did look reasonably sound and has promising looking panel work.

Part of a collection of small Italian cars amassed by the vendor, this Innocenti Spider ‘S’ comes with a NOVA form (Notice Of Vehicle Arrival), and is ready for the new owner to register with DVLA, which will make them the first UK owner in the V5C logbook.


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