The "Bateau Rouge" was a red 1962 Austin-Healy Sprite. The '62 Sprite was very similar in appearance to a MG Midget-'62 was the first year after the demise of the "bug-eyed" Sprite. Peter's had a fibreglass hard top, but otherwise it was a classic british sports car. No wimpy roll-up windows, it had proper side curtains, and a 988cc four-banger. He had brought it from England when he moved to Belgium.
It couldn't go back to England without paying a hundred pounds in road tax. It was not street-legal in Belgium either, because the import duty hadn't been paid. In addition, it was right-hand drive, and the body was rusty enough to attract unwelcome attention from the authorities. On top of that, it had been vandalized while sitting in the field-all of the switches had been removed from the dashboard, and the wires cut. Peter said that I could have it if I could use it.
We went to Radio-Shack in Brussels and bought some switches, which I installed with the help of a wiring diagram that Peter had for a different model British car that had a similar electrical system. I got some plaster intended for patching walls in houses, and used this to cover the worst of the rust, sprayed red with Dupli-color. It looked ok from a distance, possibly one of the shoddiest body repair jobs in history, but good enough for a month. At "Lenny's Stock Amaricain" we got a muffler bandage and a tin of "Gun Gum" muffler patching cement to fix the rusted out silencer, bought a 30 day insurance policy and were on our way. The car was legal for use anywhere in Europe except for Great Britain and Belgium, so we had to tip-toe to the French border.
Last Updated: by Harriet Fell