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1967 Austin-Healey Sprite

Illustration for article titled 1967 Austin-Healey Sprite

Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found parked on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. How is it that I've spaced on putting my own car in this series?

Illustration for article titled 1967 Austin-Healey Sprite

Well, maybe because it's still registered as "non-operational," which means it's not really supposed to be on the street. However, this was a special occasion; I've decided to have Evil Genius Racing build a 5-link rear suspension (with narrowed RX-7 rear end) for it, plus install a rollbar and some other goodies. Maybe we'll throw it on the dyno and see how many horses that Weberized Toyota 20R has in it!

Illustration for article titled 1967 Austin-Healey Sprite

Obviously, the horrible exhaust system needs to go, and I'll need to reinstall the taillights at some point. Note the locations where fiberglass wheel flares once lived; I've still got them, in case any of you Spridget owners feel like putting fat-ass Mickey Thomspon drag tires on your cars.

Illustration for article titled 1967 Austin-Healey Sprite

When you make a Brougham stencil to apply on the cars of 24 Hours Of LeMons miscreants, you need to test it somewhere, right? I may have the world's only Austin-Healey Sprite Brougham Edition.

Illustration for article titled 1967 Austin-Healey Sprite

Onto the tow truck and 90 miles east to Sacramento with my Hell Project!

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This was my dad's very first project car.When he was 20, the Chief of Police in Nakadish, Louisiana caught my old man going 64mph in a 25mph zone at 4:15am and began pursuit.

What did my father do? He went faster. The cop, who knew it was my dad driving and knew his entire family, began pursuit. They drove all through the town, cat and mouse, dead silent save for the competing engines and squealing tires. The only lights save the streetlamps were two sets of headlights and the otherwordly alternating red and blue of the muted siren.

On the straights, the Chief's Ford 500 cruiser had the advantage, but in Louisiana there aren't nearly enough straights to take advantage of all that muscle. It was still a close pursuit, though and the only way my father got away was but turning towards the center of town towards the cemetery.

The roads surrounding the cemetery were paved with red brick back in this day and there was a slight dew on the ground, making it pretty slick. My father sees the cemetery and guns the Sprite as hard as he can. He approached the intersection and hangs a 90 degree left hand turn going 60mph and the back tires don't even scrape the curb. That damned 2-1 steering ratio just kept that car planted like it was on slots. The cop's Ford, though?

The 500 was at the top of the cemetery, all four wheels off the ground and the chassis balanced on top of a gravestone. While the tow truck worked at getting the Ford off the gravestone, the Chief hitched a ride to my dad's house and, seeing the Sprite in the driveway, knocked on the door. My dad answers the door, jacket and jeans still on, and the Chief of Police looks him square in the eye and says "I expect to see you in my office when I get my car off that damned hill."

My old man's reply?