Due to the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation, our website is currently unavailable to visitors from most European countries. We apologize for this inconvenience and encourage you to visit www.motortrend.com for the latest on new cars, car reviews and news, concept cars and auto show coverage, awards and much more.MOTORTREND.COM
 |   |  1960 Austin-Healey Sprite - A Two-Liter Sprite
Subscribe to the Free

1960 Austin-Healey Sprite - A Two-Liter Sprite

Design Craft's one-off Honda K-powered 1960 Austin Healey

Dec 22, 2017
1960 Austin Healey Custom Side Exit Exhaust

When Donald Healey laid out the plans for the Austin-Healey Sprite in the 1950s, he was entirely focused on just two things: affordability; and pure, road-going enjoyment. Due to keeping costs as low as possible to pass on to the consumer, the Mk I Sprite, affectionately known as the "bugeye" to U.S. buyers, was about as bare bones and no-frills as it gets. This meant a low entry price, but any "extras" were out the window. Fortunately, there's the aftermarket parts bin to help personalize and empower the scant little roadster, but if that's not enough there's always shops like Design Craft Fabrication to lend a hand.

1960 austin healey sprite koyo radiator Photo 2/16   |   1960 Austin Healey Sprite Koyo Radiator

Based in Westminster, Calif., just outside of Long Beach, Design Craft Fabrication is owned and operated by fabrication extraordinaire (and ex-tuner mag editor) Gary Castillo. The San Diego transplant has often served as motorsport driver, crew chief, designer, fabricator, and all-around envelope pusher when it comes to anything automotive related. His latest project, custom built for a customer, was set to debut at the SEMA Show in November, but a lack of available booth space (a hurdle that many builders ran into this year) meant the unveil wouldn't happen in Las Vegas, but rather in Los Angeles a month later during the annual Auto Show.

1960 austin healey sprite honda k20A Photo 3/16   |   1960 Austin Healey Sprite Honda K20a

Original or nicely restored, Austin-Healey Sprite's might fetch a collector somewhere around 20K if the quality is there and much of the original car is still intact. This particular 1960 Sprite, however, isn't wearing much of its original hardware, and though it's not uncommon to see a newer model Sprite engine swapped into an older Mk 1, you've certainly never seen its chest cavity filled with Honda's "jack of all trades" K20 heart. Why a K-swap, you might ask? Gary states simply enough, "Being that Honda engines are something I enjoy working on the most, and the owner gave me free reign on the project, I decided to stick with what I know." And as if the 2.0-liter Japanese affair weren't far enough outside of the box, the transmission set up takes things a bit further.

  • 1960 austin healey sprite austin front grill
  • 1960 austin healey sprite custom apple ipad center console
  • 1960 austin healey sprite brake reservoir

Mated to the K20 block is an 8th gen. Civic transmission, turned longitudinally, that serves as a transfer case and, well, Castillo breaks it down best, "With the K-series transmission set sideways, the car's passenger side axle becomes the front drive shaft while the driver's side axle becomes a rear driveshaft. To make it work, we used a Nissan (GT-R) diff up front and the same goes for the rear." Though he makes it sound simple, the concept is genius, though the finished product is still being felt out. One area of concern that has to be addressed is the gearing. He adds, "The final drive ratio came out to around 16.5:1, which is ridiculous! Basically you can probably start the car from a stoplight in sixth gear. We're working on a set of drive shafts with automatic transmission planetary gears hooked up in line, to under-drive the ratio that comes out of the trans. Our end goal will be to come up with the same theory as our drive shafts, but have it built into the transmission."

1960 austin healey sprite koyo radiator Photo 7/16   |   1960 Austin Healey Sprite Koyo Radiator

To help motivate the mighty Sprite dubbed the "AWDstin Meanie," Design Craft added JE pistons and K1 rods to the K-series block in order to help support the additional pressure courtesy of a Garrett GT3076 turbo, regulated by a Turbosmart wastegate and overseen by Hondata's user-friendly algorithm. Obviously the custom fabrication touches run rampant through the roadster's bay and include a one-off turbo manifold with side exit exhaust and dump tube while up front, a modified Koyorad and Davies Craig combo, placed strategically to work within the tight confines of the car's front end, help keep the temperatures in check.

  • 1960 austin healey sprite custom HRE wheel
  • 1960 austin healey sprite custom side exit exhaust
  • 1960 austin healey sprite koyo radiator

While the side exit exhaust adds an enormous amount of attitude and serves as one of my personal favorite parts of the build, it's the custom vintage seats put together by Sparco that steal the show inside the cabin. The classic style and stitch on a shortened seat back frame are really the only seats that would look right inside this build and Sparco nailed it. The overall layout and materials used on the cockpit are strikingly modern and refined, while the custom shifter, completely exposed, gives the cockpit a raw and mechanical feel for tangible contrast.

1960 austin healey sprite sparco seats Photo 11/16   |   1960 Austin Healey Sprite Sparco Seats

You notice the custom HRE wheels, Falken tires, and ultra-sleek windscreen right away. What you don't notice at first glance are the KSR hood vent and Sportcar Motion over fenders — both of which are universal, but typically reserved for Honda track cars. That's just the nature of Design Craft Austin-Healey Sprite; it flirts with all types of enthusiast build staples, pulls inspiration out of thin air, and confuses the hell out of many. All you have to know is it's but a sample of what Castillo and Design Craft are capable of.

1960 austin healey sprite rockford fosgate amps Photo 12/16   |   1960 Austin Healey Sprite Rockford Fosgate Amps
  • 1960 austin healey sprite custom turbo manifold
  • 1960 austin healey sprite custom wastegate side exit
  • 1960 austin healey sprite garrett turbo
1960 austin healey sprite HRE wheel Photo 16/16   |   1960 Austin Healey Sprite HRE Wheel
By Rodrez
759 Articles
1960 Austin-Healey Sprite - A Two-Liter Sprite
Tuning Menu
Engine: Honda K20A; JE pistons, K1 rods; Garrett GT3076 turbo; Turbosmart wastegate, blow-off valve; custom turbo manifold, dump tube piping; Hondata ECU; Rywire engine harness; Koyo radiator; Davies Craig intercooler; ATL fuel cell; AEM 440 lph pumps
Transmission: '06 Honda K20 transmission; Nissan GT-R front/rear differentials
Suspension: custom built control arms, knuckles w/cantilever shocks, rear independent suspension, subframe w/push rod suspension; Suzuki RM 125 dirt bike shocks front/rear; chromoly axles; Porsche 930 CVs
Brakes: Wilwood rotors, four-piston front, two-piston rear brakes
Wheels/tires: Custom HRE wheels 16x9 front, 16x10 rear; Falken Azenis RT615K 205/40-16 front, 225/40-16 rear
Exterior: Valspar Silhouette Mica Black paint, Nantucket grey stripe; Sportcar Motion overfenders; KSR hood vent; custom windscreen
Audio: by Automotive Entertainment: Rockford Fosgate TI 500-1, T600-4, P3D4-10; Stevens Audio compressions horns; Apple iPad; door panels



There is no denying Seiji Ookawara's Nissan Silvia is a head-turner. It's extremely low, it's extremely wide, and has a ludicrous amount of negative camber that screams for attention.
David IshikawaSep 19, 2019
On U.S. newsstands: pbskids's annual Nissan Issue! With all the sick S’s – Skyline, S30, Silvia, Stagea, and more!
Bob HernandezSep 18, 2019
This R34 Skyline GT-R Godzilla comes almost entirely armored in carbon - and all that pricey material isn't there for looks, either.
Micah WrightSep 18, 2019
One of our favorite episodes of Top Gear involves the crew heading to Japan where Clarkson jumps behind the wheel of a R35 while Mays and Hammond stumble their way through the country via Bullet Train.
pbskids StaffSep 17, 2019
At a Suzuka Speedway press conference, Super GT and Toyota Gazoo Racing finally pulled back the shroud on the GT500-Class A90 Supra competition machine.
bhernandezSep 11, 2019
Join Our FREE

Sign Up today for our FREE Newsletter and get the latest articles and news delivered right to your in-box.

Sponsored Links


исправление перегородки носа