This is a Bugeye we call “Scarlett,” (AN5L 9824). If you are a purist, then this car is not for you. But if you love Bugeyes and need an automatic transmission (for whatever reason), this car is the greatest thing going, and it could be the ticket to a Bugeye in your life that otherwise would not have been possible.
Over the years, we have met quite a few people who could not operate a manual transmission for a host of reasons (ranging from physical challenges to pure preference) and this car helps bridge that gap. We had one other auto Bug with an Opel driveline, which went into service in Louisiana to provide a lot of smiles for a collector and his wife. This one is extremely well done, as you can see in the new video below. I’m not sure when and if we will ever have another!
This car is very well-restored with a 1.4 liter Chevette drivetrain and three speed automatic transmission with an electric overdrive fourth speed. The engine has about 52 horsepower, perhaps a bit more since a nice header is installed. Compared to a 43 HP stock 948 Bugeye, the power plant feels more than adequate–not quite as quick as a 1275 Bugeye but quicker than a 948 car.
It was built about 15 years ago in Texas, then sold roughly ten years ago to a couple in Virginia. The odometer currently shows 13,763 miles, and it looks to me that this is the mileage that was put on the car since the restoration over the past 15 years. They used the car regularly without issue. Everything looks quite clean. It is common for restorers to zero out mileage after a massive project such as this one. As with most British cars of this vintage, actual mileage is unknown.
The finish is excellent and shines beautifully. The builder removed the beading strips on the top of the nose and fenders, which always makes Bugeyes look cleaner. This too was very well executed, as was a very smart bonnet lock in the footwells the locks down the flip forward nose.
Footwell floor panels were also replaced during the restoration, thus ensuring a solid underside. An impressive cross brace was also welded under the car, to keep everything strong. You can also see the transmission cooler underneath the car. It’s up out of harms’ way.
The fabricator who built this Sprite did an admirable job fitting the driveline and trimming the cabin. It’s all very clean and well customized. The GM transmission is of course wider than the standard Sprite gearbox, but by removing the battery and heater shelf, everything fits just fine. The transmission tunnel in the cockpit is also slightly wider, and very well executed. The large radiator is clearly up to the task of keeping everything cool, with two substantial electric fans mounted to help when needed. The car drives quite nicely. Front disk brakes are also fit and the stopping power is quite good. Roll bar is nice, as are the quite useable fender mirrors.
Check out the short video above for a more detailed look at the installation and controls. This car is well-sorted and ready to go. Too often, this sort of project is a bit half-baked. But this car was lucky to meet a great builder, who made a very well-modified user-friendly Sprite that has stood-up to the test of almost 15k miles, and seems to be ready for a whole lot more! Note: This car was built in 1959 but is titled as a 1960 model. Many British cars seem to have been titled in the year after their manufacture, perhaps they sat for a winter and were sold the following Spring?
Call or email if you would like to take Scarlett home!