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Dear Postwar Editor:
Mr. P. Persoon found this intriguing piece of tin and wonders from which car it came. That aside we wonder... was it ever on a car? Or is it a piece of homemade design that was meant to adorn the face of a car but never made it. It looks sort of Jaguar-ish. Can you help?
In Austin-Healey circles ‘PMO 200’ is a bit of a legendary number. Or maybe we should say in Austin-Healey Sprite circles it is, as the Sprite is hardly taken seriously by the self confessed connoisseurs of ‘big’ Healeys? Ayway: ‘PMO’ is all about one Sprite in particular: the Sebring Sprite prototype. That car - a special bodied racing version built by racer/tuner John Sprinzel – became legendary after winning at Sebring. There is an excellent website about these cars (click here), which shares a lot of information about the original six cars built, plus the many replicas. Naturally there is plenty of attention to ‘PMO'
They write: “The first of these was a black car which was displayed wearing the registration PMO 200 at the 1961 Racing Car Show. It featured a double-curvature windscreen rather like that of the Speedwell GT, and the roof line differed slightly to that on the subsequent 5 examples built. It is not known what happened to this particular car but it did not appear in competition during the ’61 season. Soon after the show the familiar PMO registration was applied to what is now regarded as the first of the alloy-bodied Sprinzel Coupes.” And indeed, after that, the car became very well known in racing circles, doing just about any event thinkable in 1961 and early 1962.
But when you look for old pictures of ‘PMO’ you will always see the car with its signature Sebring nose, with the Frogeye-grille in situ. So, what’s the picture of it that we found in our files? It’s taken at the Racing Car Show of January 1961, but we think not on John Sprinzel’s but on Speedwell’s stand. Fortunately we have a programme book of the show, but it doesn’t help either. It says there is a special Sprite on both Sprinzel’s stand as on Speedwell’s! About Speedwell: “On view for the first time will be the production version of the Speedwell GT, based on the stock Austin Healey Sprite”, while Sprinzel’s page mentions: “John Sprinzel, whose Sprite last year was on exhibition amongst the Champion Cars as the one which gave him the RAC Rally Championship, this year shows the 1961 competition version of the Austin Healey Sprite.” Now, there we go. Healey-fans – what is this version of PMO 200? Was the first Sebring Sprite actually a Speedwell Sprite? Or did they really use the same registration number? And does Austin-Healey history need rewriting?
(text Jeroen Booij, picture Jeroen Booij archive)
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