Mk2 Sprite with original Ashley roof and modified Ashley front as the car came to us, the car was structurally very good, having had extensive restoration recently but the overall finish was not that good 'First job is to strip the car down to a bare shell'
Into the bodyshop and the front inner wings were in a bad way so inner wings and footwell side panels have been replaced. The bodyshell had been painted so many times in the last 50 years that the only option was to strip it back to bare metal, the seams are being sandblasted here to get right into the tight crevices.The underside had been lightly undersealed on the new floors, but the boot floor.... that needed some stripping! After extensive stripping, wire brushing and cleaning the underside has been given 2 coats of grey stonechip that can be painted over, and will be in the body colour of Farina grey
Although the car had been taken back to bare metal it still needed extensive filler work to get all lines straight and contours correct, that is why the floor looks like santa's grotto!
Several coats of 2 pack primer and the shell is looking good, from here it will have stopper applied, then a guide coat, before being flatted down again with 320 paper and a final primer coat before flatting with 800 paper and top coat of Farina grey applied
3-4 coats of Farina grey 2 pack applied to the bodyshell, underneath, inside and outside applied in booth at 85 degrees which sets the paint hard
(pictured left) The roof was an original 60's one, having been repaired before and painted several times this caused a lot of difficulties and had to be carefully sanded down to the original gel coat before layers of 2 pack primer filler were applied and rubbed smooth, before at last it was ready for top colour, in this picture even Darryl is lending a hand!' (pictured right) The uniquely modified Ashley front has been temporarily re fitted to the shell to enable the flatting and polishing to take place, here the car has been flatted with 1500 paper, then a G3 mop polish, then a G10 polish, later it will be hand polished with Meguiars deep gloss wax
First fitting up of the bodyshell with front suspension and new wiring loom, at the rear the back axle springs and shocks are installed
(left) windscreen,roof,inner boot lid and kamm tail first fitting
(left) Rollcage installed and first items of trim in place including the dashboard
(left) While the bodyshell was being assembled, the 1380cc engine was being built in the engine assembly facility
(left) Engine fitted, note the Sidedraught DCOE carburettor, LCB exhaust, breather catch tank, race battery, alternator conversion, Ashley alloy radiator.
'The finished Mk2 Sprite in all it's glory, ready for road and track'
'On track at Donington, less than 2 weeks after completion,
We had a client come to us who wanted a special Midget but undecided between the Lenham or Ashley route, we had both types here and he decided the Ashley was the route for him, so the search was on for a nice Sprite or Midget that would be ready to accept the Ashley bodywork
Within a day of the car arriving with us all the non required panels were stripped from the car, unfortunately the front wings were fibreglass and had been bonded to the inner wings with steel strips
Next operation is trial fit and bracket adjustment of the front bonnet so that if any modifications are needed they can be done before the bonnet is prepared for painting.
Fitting the roof is normally relatively straightforward but this car needed serious adjustment to the screen and quarterlights as none of them had been bolted on properly, when set correctly everything lined up nicely
When the front wings are removed it reveals the mess that was hidden beneath them, which is normally rust and bad welding! without getting too carried away we sanded down and painted the inner surfaces in red lead prior to respraying the inner wings and lower scuttle
Despite or maybe because of the car being painted recently the designated flame red was not a close enough match to satisfy our bodyshop manager so the decision was taken to respray the whole car as it would never have looked right
The most time consuming job is fitting up the hardtop, getting the screen and window gaps right, fitting a full cloth headlining,shaping and rivetting the drip gutter in place, fitting the rear window and seals, all takes more time than you would expect
The Sprite after being delivered by transporter back to the client less than 4 weeks after it was collected, fully resprayed, painted under the bonnet, wiring loom adapted, new Ashley GT bodywork, new leather seats and all windows and doors realigned for a proper fit. (Client was going to make his own grille with clip on number plate letters a la Lotus Elan.)
'Completed early 2012 was this gorgeous 1963 Midget with 1275 engine, 14" wire wheels and a bespoke sage green interior with Ashley seats, the car soon found a new owner'