Bugeye Sprite Tires

It is difficult not to love Austin Healeys early little Sprite. In the UK known as the Frog eye sprite, and here in the US nick named the Bug Eye Sprite. Along with it’s appearance the Bugeye is loved for it’s nimble handlind which of course is dramatically effected by having the right tires.

Austin Healey Sprite Tires

When Austin Healey brought out the Bugeye Sprite they used 520-13 bias ply tires. Today there isn’t really a bias ply tire for the Bug Eye and todays modern roads mean that a period radial tire makes the little Sprite more suited to higher cruising speeds. The tire size 145R13 is the correct radial alternative for a 5.20-13. It will also give the best handling. Over tireing this lovely light little Healey, is a shame to numb the steering and lose the progressiveness of these little light rear wheel drive cars.

PIRELLI have re-introduced their 145HR13 Pirelli Cinturato CA67. This is a genuine 1950s early radial which was the market leader for sports cars throughout the 1960's and into the ‘70s. The reason it was so great then, and is still the best tire for Austin Healeys little Bugeye Sprite today is because it is a radial tire designed to be fitted to car chassis that would originally have used bias ply tires. So the Cinturato will compliment and enhance the handling of your Healey, compared to a more modern tire that will work against it.

Bug Eye Tires

Although using more modern wider tires will not make the Bugeye such a pleasant, light, handling car, often people like the look of a wider tire. Also over the years people make various adjustments and upgrades to the chassis by adding adverse camber, stiffening the springs and switching to wider wheels to make a car derive more grip from a wider tire in which case a 175/70R13 tire is considered to increase grip.

In using wider tires on these old little Austin Healey, we introduce a phenomena that when cornering, as the car leans, it rolls onto the shoulder of the tire and lifts the inside of the tire off the road, causing a sudden loss of grip. This effect can be diminished by using a period tire. Currently Pirelli make a 175/70VR13 Cinturato CN36. A 1968 design that has rounded shoulders to diminish the snap oversteer that comes from oversized modern tires.