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A Spritely Old Car

(Photo - Sunnie Parish and Steve Williams) Sprite's its name, christened by the chaps at British Motorcar Corporation. But it's better known to SLAC Financial Analyst Sunnie Parish as Little Bit.

Sunnie spent the summer of 1966 in London and envisioned herself tooling about on a Vespa scooter. Her father, who had some say in the matter, considered zipping along the crooked streets of Covent Garden on such a contraption as appealing as dislodging a tooth. Sensible man. He insisted she go for the likes of a sparkly new Austin-Healy Sprite convertible sports car instead.

The car, with its plucky 1098 cc engine, was waiting for her when she arrived in London. Tiny thing that it is, Sunnie's friends took to hauling it about as a lark. One morning, Sunnie wandered down from her room to find that her friends had toted the car into the lobby.

Shenanigans aside, the green Sprite delivered her safely—and in style—to Brands Hatch for the Grand Prix. Another time, with two passengers perched on its minuscule trunk, the car lumbered to Brighton with all four travelers caterwauling Yellow Submarine.

At summer's end the Austin-Healy was shipped to Stanford, where it loyally served Sunnie's family for decades. Put out to pasture after its generator expired, the car languished in Sunnie's yard for years. Its tires exhaled, and its smart British Racing Green paint began to flake. It was never started, just rolled ingloriously across the yard if it blocked some nobler project.

Luck eventually smiled upon the green Sprite again. SLAC's Steve Williams had commuted to the lab in a Sprite as a student and, upon learning of Sunnie's somnolent automobile, was keen to restart the tradition. With spiffy refurbished carburetors and distributor, the car now makes the five mile jaunt to SLAC everyday.

The years roll on and so does it.

—Krista Zala
   SLAC Today, June 21, 2006

Image: SLAC's Sunnie Parish and Steve Williams are the two consecutive owners of this Austin-Healy Sprite. (Click on image for larger version.)