Modified sports/racing cars are often referred to as “specials,” although some are more special than others. Definitely on the more-special end of the scale is the Pick of the Day, a 1958 Austin Healey Sprite built for racing with a custom body and Italian drivetrain.
The Sprite also has an intriguing back story, according to the Monterey, California, dealer advertising the roadster on ClassicCars.com.
Referred to as the Canlas Special, the Sprite was owned by a “a gentleman racer from San Francisco” named Ambrosio Canlas who built the car in the 1960s for competition at such historic tracks as Sears Point and Cotati Raceway, the seller says.
The car was raced for a number of years until its last recorded race in 1968, after which it disappeared. The abandoned race car was rediscovered parked in a trailer in Redwood City, California, by the current owner who had it restored starting in 2014.
The Sprite is all-steel, including the streamlined tilt-up front end that replaces the original “bugeye” design, which tilted forward.
“Ambrosio Canlas was the original builder of the car and affectionately put the ‘CANLAS’ badges on the sides of the hood,” the seller notes.
Under that hood, there’s another unique feature lurking. Instead of the small British engine that normally would be there, this Sprite is “equipped with a gorgeous early iron-block 2-liter motor from a 1959 Alfa Romeo 2000 Touring Spider, which produces 115 horsepower with dual Weber 40DCOE Carburetors,” the seller says.
“Also fitted with an Alfa Romeo 2000 driveline, this car really pushes out some power while staying nimble on the turns and straightaways,” the seller adds. “The original builder also installed a modified MGA rear end to compensate (for) the added power, and (the car) is completely converted to 12-volt system.”
The restoration was completed by two California shops, one that specializes in British cars for the body and chassis and the other an Italian performance expert who attended to the mechanical parts, electrical system and final assembly, the seller says.
The little red sports car looks special indeed with its attractive front end, cut-down racing windshield and roll bar. Really, a very sharp-looking roadster. The photos with the ad show it has a no-nonsense but livable interior with some modifications made to accommodate the physically larger driveline.
The Sprite has been rebuilt to be roadworthy rather than raced, the seller notes, and comes with a clean California title and registration and a “CA black plate fixed to the rear.”
“This car is really a neat piece of California history for someone interested in vintage period-built sports racing “Specials” of the ‘50s/’60s,” the seller says.
The asking price is $39,500.
To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.