in 1957 as a part-time venture by John Sprinzel, George Hulbert and Len
Adams after Sprinzel won his first race at Goodwood in his Austin A35 which
they'd prepared, Speedwell Performance Conversions began offering modified
cylinder heads for the BMC A-series engine and suspension modifications
for the A35. Future World Driving Champion Graham Hill soon joined the firm, and
Speedwell-prepared A35s enjoyed great success in both road racing and rallying,
becoming popular for street use as well.
In 1958, the BMC Competitions Department, for whom Sprinzel had begun driving,
loaned him a pre-release Sprite in Speedwell Blue, registered PMO200, to be
prepared by Speedwell as a private entry on the BMC team in the Alpine
rally. This was the Sprite's competition debut and it took the first
three places in its class, led by Sprinzel and his navigator, Willy Cave.
Speedwell's line expanded to include modifications for Sprites, and their
collaborations with designer Frank Costin and the coachworks of Williams
& Pritchard produced the "Monza" bonnet, followed
by the Speedwell Sprite GT fixed-head coupé
and the Speedwell Streamliner, both of which established new speed records
Sprinzel left Speedwell in 1960 to head the Speed Equipment Division
of the Donald Healey Motor Company, where the Sebring
Sprite was homologated and the first examples were produced. For more
on the early history of Speedwell, see "The Spritely Years" by John Sprinzel
and Tom Coulthard, 1994, Patrick Stephens Limited (ISBN 1 85260 498 0).
Speedwell continued to expand their line to include a very successful
electronic rev counter, and speed equipment for other cars like the Mini
and the Volkswagon. There is a good article from VolksWorld Magazine by
Keith Seume including the later
history of Speedwell.