This car was built in early 1959 (AN5L 8927 was the first car built in 1959). Sven is completely stock in appearance, yet hiding quite a few performance modifications. The engine is impressive, rebuilt with a number of performance modifications made to produce a roughly 20% increase in power over a stock 1275 engine. It’s completely street-friendly with a smooth idle and easy driveabilty. But lurking under the hood is a nice performance package featuring a mild street cam, exhaust header with larger bore exhaust system, aluminum head and roller-rocker performance valve gear. Also included is a fancy new performance distributor with breakerless ignition and MSD ignition wires. No points to fail — for reliability, this is the way to go.
The suspension is stock with the addition of a a front anti- roll bar and front disk brakes. All this adds up to make for spirited driving fun and more power than your average 1275 Bugeye.
Sven was well serviced in our shop in 2011 when a number of chronic Bugeye problems were handled… we changed his radius arm bushings, replaced the slave cylinder and brake hoses, installed air horns, replaced his leaking differential pinion seal and exhaust gasket, replaced the heater hose, replaced leaking rear hub seals gaskets and o-rings, and also installed new rear brakes and rear wheel cylinders. We’ve also replaced the fuel filter and he has a brand new SU electric fuel pump.
This week, we ran the car through our 100 point checklist and adjusted the valves and dealt with any minor issues that needed attention. Now the car is ready for a new home.
In this photo we are setting the valve clearances. The roller rockers are the orange arms in the photo and this is a wonderful and expensive accessory (about $800). These are a modern low friction method of opening and closing the valves which use ball bearings to reduce friction in the valve gear. The roller rocker puts less pressure on the valve guides than the stock arrangement, which results in longer engine life and greater efficiency. This roller rocker assembly also keeps the valves open longer for better breathing. The net effect is more horsepower delivered to the wheels.
Sven also has an aluminum head, a $1200 performance extra with polished ports for better intake and exhaust flow. Valve seats are hardened for use with modern unleaded gasoline (premium pump gas is all you need). The head is lighter, stronger and dissipates heat better than the stock arrangement. This trick head is held onto the engine block with two extra studs (as with classic mini cooper S models) to make much a stronger overall engine. Other modifications include a high torque aftermarket starter motor and a spin-on oil filter. This is one trick Sprite motor. It’s all very well executed and a really nice asset to have in this lovely restored car! If you are looking for extra power in your Bugeye, Sven is worth serious consideration… and even if you are looking for a Bugeye with the stock powerplant, there is no downside to these mods, only increased power should you need it!
Sven also has a nice tonneau and a lovely restored interior. Top is older, but quite serviceable. One noted issue is some extra holes in the top of the windshield frame. There must have been sun visors mounted at some point in Sven’s past. It’s barely noticeable, but if this concerns the new owner, a powder-coated windshield frame is a good option, and we can make such a swap. Take a look at the windshield on Sara, the green Bugeye on our site… that frame is sealed in a stunning silver powder coated finish.
A few subtle details about this special car: AN5L 10343 was the last car with long door handles. Sven is car 9453, so these door handles are correct. Also, Sven has the correct rocker panel gussets (visible when the door is open) below the door latch. This is the correct factory reinforcement seen on early cars in 1958 and ’59.
All in all, this is a great package and a wonderful Bugeye anyone would enjoy!