0-60 time for an Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite

How fast is your Bugeye?

I spent some time this week in a very technologically advanced Bugeye. In fact, next to our FrogE electric (coming soon!), this may be the most modern Bugeye on the road today. Why? Because of our new GPS powered speedometer, a tiny instrument that comes loaded with a slew of modern electronic and digital features.

Why would anyone need this in a car that is all about elemental simplicity? This is a car that doesn’t even have external door handles, let alone door locks.

Because it’s fun.

One of our more intrepid customers “Farid” routinely uses this red Bugeye for trips from NYC to Milford, CT. His speedo was working erratically, and he wanted it repaired. We diagnosed a loose drive gear in the transmission, a chronic Sprite problem that requires a complete transmission disassembly to fix. An easier repair was to install our new GPS powered electric speedo. One of my favorite features available after this fix is the 0-60 timer, which helps us to answer the perennial question, how much faster is a 1275 Bugeye than a stock 948? Watch below:

The video shows my first run, not too aggressive with a bit of an uphill, at 17.50. My fastest time to 60 was 15.84 seconds. While this sounds very slow compared to modern cars, it’s plenty fast to merge with highway traffic on Interstate 95. And if you want to go faster, this instrument gives you a novel gadget for evaluating tuning improvements. In 1958, Road and Track reported the stock Bugeye 0-60 time as 20.8 seconds. Now, everyone compete for the best time!

I have to confess I was mesmerized by the rock solid analog speed indicator. It never wavered. All my life, speedos and tach have floated through a range of values, as mechanical cables told the gauges what to say. Now, the electronic age is available in your Bugeye cockpit. And I confess I found it quite entertaining.

Other functions you get with the GPS speedo: compass heading, altimeter (86FT), an accurate digital trip odometer (that actually works), time of day, maximum peak speed (which also moves the analog needle to simultaneously display the value and quarter mile time. Check these out in our catalog by clicking here!

You can see pictures of the other screens in the album below. You scroll through the functions with the rubber button on the gauge face. Shown here in the album are compass heading, time, trip odometer and altitude. For 0-60 runs, you hold the button down when in this function to zero the digits. Once you begin moving, the timer begins. When you hit 60 MPH, the times freezes, and only resets when you hit the button again or turn off power. Distance traveled to 60 is also displayed…

Super Sprite #003 now complete

Here’s our latest build, our third “Super Sprite,” (our ultimate Bugeyes), custom built to the owner’s specifications. This one has a stock 1275 engine with a four speed transmission. Most upgraded is the appearance and attutude, with head fairing, hard tonneau, brooklands screen, performance exhaust and custom color scheme. We also converted the hubs to run new wire wheels. The car will head home to Alabama this weekend.

Everything is new and driving the car is a delight. The small screen shields your head more than one might think… I put about 30 miles on the car in 80 degree weather and found it quite pleasant. The only downside of the small screen is that the wind wanted to steal my Bugeyeguy baseball hat.

What is a Super Sprite? Every Sprite is “super,” but after the 230+ we’ve sent out the door, the three that stand out the most are our custom builds with special graphics and features that have them turn heads just a little more than usual. Each time we fit and stripe a hard tonneau on a Bugeye it activates my D-Jag passion. There is something so appealing about the flat-topped “aerodynamic” racing sports cars of the 50s and 60s and a hard tonneau evokes that spirit.

The head fairing also feels like it belongs and reinforces the message–all the business happens on the driver side. Everything else is built for speed, and whether 45 or 65 or 100 HP, it’s just plain fun to have a Bugeye that looks like a miniature period racer.

#001 Morgan (silver) was supercharged with a fuel injection. #002 Gumby (green) features four-port injection with a cross-flow aluminum head. This white car (#003) is only mildly upgraded as far as performance is concerned. They’re all probably slower than mom’s new mini van. But if you want to burn a smile into your face that will last for your entire trip inside the grocery store, we’d like to build #004 for you.

Also worth noting is “bees knees” (AKA “Goldie”) another super car we built for Ron from Rhode Island (below). This is another impressive custom Sprite that delivers a similar look with different components. Ron chose a single hoop roll bar with integrated pillow and many of his own Super Sprite modifications. This car retains the original 948 engine with a fantastic exhaust note that makes the car feel like a giant-killer.

If you like these modified cars, you can see Gumby and Goldie at the Lime Rock Concours on Sunday September 2nd. Come say hello!

Don’t do this to your Bugeye Sprite

The iris blue Bugeye in this photo came to us from Boise, Idaho for sorting and upgrades. I climbed-in to unload it from the enclosed trailer in front of our shop and my conversation with the driver went something like this:

Driver: “Turn the wheel to the right”
Me: It’s all the way to the right.
Driver: No it’s not.
Me: the wheel is hard over
Driver Then how come this wheel is all the way to the LEFT?

At which point we climbed deeper into the dark 53′ trailer so we could see the front of the car. Indeed, one tire was pointing fully to the left and the other fully to the right. We looked under the car to find the nut missing and the tie rod end no longer connected.

It may look pretty normal in the photo, but if you look closely in the upper right of the picture, you will see the tie rod end floating in mid-air beneath the steering arm. That’s because the nut came loose, unscrewed and departed the vehicle, and then the tie rod end fell out of the steering arm. When turning the steering wheel with this configuration, one wheel turns, and goes in any direction other than parallel to its mate, which is to say, driving in this mode could have disastrous consequences. Fortunately, this all happened while the car was making its cross country journey, safely secured inside this trailer.

We fixed it, tightened it and drove it off the trailer without issue. No one was hurt. But
please before your next drive in your classic car put a wrench on YOUR tie rod ends. Original tie rod ends were drilled for a cotter pin. Unfortunately, newer replacements are sold with a nyloc nut instead. We’ll never know why this one fell-off. Perhaps it was insufficiently tightened. Or maybe the installer lost the nyloc and used a generic nut. Regardless, have a look at yours. Two-wheel steering is a good thing.

Why this innovative new Sprite product is worthy of its own post!

The new generator shown below (installed in a customer’s car) looks completely stock. Yet, hidden inside is a modern high-powered alternator that outputs more than twice the amperage, spins on superior bearings, and weighs about half as much as the original!

Introducing the “GenerNator,” an exciting innovation of great interest to everyone who owns a Spridget fit with a Lucas generator and regulator. This new dynamo looks original but is superior in every way to the original Lucas generator. It’s available for positive and negative ground cars, as well as traditional Mark One Bugeyes with a tach drive and also for later non-tach drive set-ups.

For years we have done alternator conversions to get rid of the generator and regulator-the alternator provides more power at lower rpms, with better bearings, and it’s more durable. But this change always necessitated a change to an electronic tachometer, because the tach drive went away with the alternator change-over.

No more.

Now, our new GenerNator gives you all the the benefits of an alternator with none of the downsides. It looks completely stock but hidden inside is a modern alternator. It spins the tachometer drive just like the original. The difference is more than twice the output of a generator, more power available at lower RPMS, much less weight, built-in regulator, better bearings.

It’s brilliant!

You no longer need your regulator with this product (this is more great news-regulators are sometimes unreliable-the GenerNator gets rid of another potential trouble spot!) Instructions are included to wire it all up. You can leave the stock regulator in place, it becomes a fused link for the new set-up. If you are missing your regulator, or yours is damaged, you can also order our dummy regulator, which looks stock and includes a fuse hidden inside.

Check it out at our catalog page by clicking here. We are actively installing these in customer cars and have thus far had no issues and expect this product to be a winner all the way around! Retain the stock appearance, retain your stock gauges, upgrade the power output and reliabilty, lighten the weight. What’s not to like?

It’s a particularly timely innovation, and the need for this product was “driven” home this week. One of the cars we recently delivered to Western New York (Hampton) stopped working when the voltage regulator melted. It may have shorted internally, or the generator may have shorted and fried the regulator (we’ll know when we inspect the pieces soon) but regardless, the charging system failed and it left the customer’s car inoperable in his own garage. This is of course completely unacceptable… frustrating for the customer and particularly frustrating for us!

This happened in spite of our routine inspection of these components when we released the car. In fact, every car we sell goes through a comprehensive check list before we allow it to depart, and the charging circuit is thoroughly inspected as part of this checklist. Still, the system stopped working, which is our worst nightmare. Hampton will get a new GenerNator, and this should serve the car and the customer quite well, and most importantly should end hassles with the charging system forever.

If you want to order one of these beauties, click here. We have the tach drive model in stock now, and will have the non tach drive version available next week (for later cars).

Our National Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite Restoration Center

I never dreamt that a Bugeye purchase in my teenage years would one day lead to 230 Bugeyes sold. And similarly, I never would have imagined that our network of enclosed auto carriers would allow us move cars nationwide with ease, so that we could build what has become a national restoration center here in Connecticut. In addition to the 230 sold, we have now restored about 30 additional Bugeyes from addresses as far away as California.

If you have a car that is begging for a five speed transmission upgrade or supercharger, or just needs to be sorted-out, please give a call so we can help. Steve did, and as evidenced by his nice note below, he has been smiling ever since. We’ll be delighted to pick up your car, bring it here for therapy, and send it home when it’s done.

Hi David,

I have to admit that the thought you presented about a year ago to ship my newly acquired 1959 Bugeye dream (since I was 15 years old) back to Connecticut from Colorado, initially sounded like some far-fetched idea.  I had just discovered this mid-west barn find in Eastern Colorado.  Now that I’ve had the time to settle into ownership of this classic little piece of British automotive history, I am SO glad that I did agree to allow you and your team to bring the car back to a standard that is now without worry.  When I want it to start, it starts.  When I want to go somewhere, it takes me there.  And most importantly, it NEVER has left me sit out there waiting for a tow truck.  All thanks to the specialized and professional job you did at Bugeyeguy.  Thanks David.  I know you have a great team behind you, and I want you to please pass on my thanks and gratitude for their un-compromising quality of work that they performed.  And it was a significant amount of work done to bring this car back to a  reliable driving, head-turning and SAFER standard.  The car performs so well, that if I didn’t know it was from 1959, I’d almost say we have a nearly new car here instead of one which will turn 60 next year, and only slightly younger than me.  Many thanks again to you and the Bugeyeguy team.  You and your team have earned my respect and my loyal business for life.

I’m living the dream. 

Best regards,

Steve in the Rockies

Electric Bugeye Sprite update

This past week had a chance to get back into the electric Bugeye project, now that a bunch of the gas-powered Sprites in the queue have shipped to their new homes. With the power plant, controller and batteries located, FROG-E #1 is almost ready for test driving. Our next challenge is chargers. There will be three on board… one for fast charging from a 220 plug, one for a 110 household plug and one for the 12 volt system battery. The later runs every time the car is plugged-in to either 110 or 220, so that the headlights and other accessories always have juice available.

Above, you can see the 220 charging station receptacle for the fast charge function. We’ll fit that into the original fuel-fill hole, and a flip-up fuel fill cap will cover and hide this electric plug nicely, while providing a water-tight seal.

We have tough decisions to make as we fit these three metal boxes (one for each charger) and still try to preserve as much of the original look and feel of the car as possible. We needed to put batteries and chargers in the boot, but also have to make sure that people can still store some luggage there without interfering with the electrics. Thus two of the three chargers are nested in the right rear wing and a few battery cells are nested in the left rear wing.

I have included the two pictures below so you can see what we are up against. These are rough fitting pictures only, everything will be properly mounted and tidied up. Both sides will be shielded with plastic panels too, to protect the equipment (a panel is already in place on the driver side in the boot). But it gets interesting when you start running high voltage wires around these tiny cars. You can also see in the boot the wires running up from the batteries under the trunk floor, which also need to be shielded when we are done. We are trying hard to keep everything neat and tidy while retaining a storage space in the boot.

We should have the car running this coming week!

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