It’s rare enough to see a single supercharged bugeye but here we have two together in our yard. Both of these Sprites have 1275 motors with blowers on them. Shelby (the blue car) is the third we have supercharged and we love this mod- not easy to fit properly, but a real blast to drive once done. Check out this fun under hood video:
About one third of our customers have more than one Bugeye Sprite. And so I was not surprised when Bill in California, who already owns a stunning restored Bugeye we prepared for him called “Drusilla,” called to purchase our former racer called “Fletch.” When he said that he wanted to keep it in NYC, that got me quite excited. Of course a Bugeye in The Big Apple is about the worst place for the car, with Sprite-sized potholes, abundant newly licensed taxi drivers and full contact parking. But in this age of custom-ride reality TV shows, why not? We proposed an urban assault package with full body armor and sketched up some Max-max inspired nerf bars. But Bill wanted to keep the car’s clean lines intact. We looked to the sky and asked all NYC parking garages attendants to please be kind to this car. And then we set out to convert this former track car to an urban warrior.
We had already fit new street tires and stock lighting, which we quickly upgraded to full LEDs, for maximum visibility. I was worried that the unlocked fuel cap might invite mischief, so we fit a locking cap, buried under a slick racing flip up assembly. We agreed to leave the interior spartan, to retain the racing heritage, and to keep the interior best suited to a quick wipe out should it get wet. We fit racing lap belts, two points of the racing belts you would have found in this car. We fit a leash on the track-required electrical kill switch on the cowl, so the key could be used for additional anti-theft, but would not be a nuisance if ever misplaced. Next came an air horn, electric cooling fan, air filters and a custom tonneau to keep the dirt, water and prying eyes out of the cockpit. That British vinyl had to be custom-fit around all five roll bar legs. And we also removed the rear tube shocks, too stiff, and hanging low in harm’s way. The original lever shocks were a smart choice for ride quality and ground clearance.
There were multiple mechanical challenges given the rough road ahead… for example, the racing header and exhaust was seemingly designed for maximum volume (and performance) so we fit a great muffler but we also had to keep the header from rattling on the driver footwell. Not a concern in a race car since it only happens at low RPMs. But at traffic lights it was knocking out my fillings. So we cut, welded and bent the pipes and now the car is actually somewhat civilized.
I always wanted a race car, but didn’t want to wait till weekends to enjoy it. Driving this car around the block is like taking a lap around the track, and that’s what makes is so much fun. Bill will have to decide if he wants to keep the close ratio straight cut racing gears. The whine you get with this gear-set is intoxicating but perhaps we’ll put in a five speed transmission later.
We’re all really excited about this project, because we pushed the envelope once again and made a Bugeye for a new mission-specific application. Bill wanted a car he could park in New York City and draw a big crowd, even among the most jaded Manhattanites. Fletch will do this job nicely. Come for a drive with me in the video below!
Here’s my nomination for grand prize British car video of the year!
You might remember seeing this 1962 MG Midget for sale on our site about a year ago. This awesome video was made by the car’s new owner, who had us ship the car to Savannah, Georgia, which is the beautiful backdrop you see in the video.
I love this film because it perfectly captures the fun and the lifestyle of ownership of any car full of personality. Whether Bugeye, Midget or any other quirky little car, Jon has captured the unadulterated bliss that comes with ownership of one of these cars. These folks are clearly having a lot of fun with this car.
He’s raised the bar for 0ur Bugeyeguy videos… if only I had the ten hours he says it took to edit his clips into the result you see here!
Enjoy the ride!
Our red Bugeye is nearly ready to ship back to the customer in Maryland, with a whopping 128 improvements. We had about 60 items to fix when we got the car, but the project mushroomed into a full-on transformation of every worn part on the car. Jim (the owner) has been a great partner, inviting us to keep improving every step of the way, and the result is one awesome machine.
Come for a drive with me in the video below!
This car had lacked sure-footedness and stability because of multiple suspension issues front and rear, and now the car is tight and crisp through the turns and over bumps, courtesy of a multitude of improvements. For example, the king pins were worn, the a arm bushings missing, wire wheel splines were worn, wheels were worn too. The car drove fine before we started, and it might have been easy to discount the shortcomings as design flaws for this old short wheel base car, but once all the pieces work in harmony, the Bugeye drives blissfully. We are grateful for our experience driving more than 150 different Bugeyes because each one teaches us what is possible, and allows us to strive to produce the best driving machines.
Once the new tach goes in and new top goes on, we’ll load Jim’s car in an enclosed trailer and send it south to him for the next chapter! The electronic tach by the way is another innovation we have for sale which allows us to do away with the always problematic tach drive, cable and tach drive generator. This old fashioned system is constantly breaking in the field, and our new electronic tach looks just like the original mark one item, with a secret VDO mechanism inside that works much more reliably. Jim’s Bugeye will have one of these, and yours can too. Email if you want more info.
I spoke to the series producer several times about Jerry using one of the Bugeyes we shipped to the West Coast but it didn’t work out. I don’t know the specific car that was used, but it’s a fun video of a nice Bugeye. Enjoy!
Here’s what we have been up to… Luigi came to us from Montreal looking good but not optimized, and after roughly 50 improvements, the car is transformed. Like most Bugeyes (and old British cars in general) there are issues that have not been addressed over the years, and we are getting quite good at sorting them out after the 140 Bugeyes that have passed through our door. It’s a constantly evolving process as we learn from every failure in the field, and push towards perfection. It’s never easy, since we are dealing with more than 50 year old pieces, and often new parts that are inferior. It’s a dance of blending old and new with a lot of fabrication and innovation, all to keep these cars on the road and working beautifully. We’re not perfect, but every car teaches us how to make these cars better than ever.
Take Luigi’s carbs for example… we could see that the front and rear jets were set at radically different heights, and even though the car ran reasonably well, we knew that the asymmetry was a clue that we could do better. Upon disassembly, we discovered that the float jets were mismatched, the carb springs were uneven and mismatched and the float levels were different. We rebuilt everything with rich needles which seem to work better with today’s ethanol fuel, and the car now runs far better with much improved throttle response.
And that’s just one system that we improved… when each system on the car is optimized, the driving experience becomes pure bliss. Lots of Bugeyes are tentative when we get them (especially ebay cars), feeling somewhat loose and unstable. Luigi’s owner and I tossed the car around a bit in the parking lot to demonstrate that the car is now solid and tight, and the resulting driver confidence is what makes these cars so much fun to drive.
We also transformed the cosmetics on this car, by wet sanding the entire exterior to bring the paint back to life. You can see the before picture above as Luigi gets striped of his former orange peel. This work too must be done really carefully because burn through is a constant risk. But the final result is a deep shine for great looks and great performance.
Whether you buy one of our cars (we have six for sale at present, see “current inventory” in the right margin) or you send your car to our facility for transformation, we strive to make these cars into blissful little machines.