I love my job! Even in January, it’s fun to field-test Bugeyes before they ship to new homes.
We were particularly busy this week preparing the four Bugeyes we recently sold (Booker, Marco, Mitchell and Becky). We spent the week combing through the cars to eliminate any kinks before departure. You can see these cars out on the road in the video below, as I conduct final tests.
All of our cars go through a roughly five-hour pre-departure inspection on the lift and then a lot of miles on the road. We complete an exhaustive checklist to make sure that either everything works, or that the customer knows what doesn’t work and has the option of having us fix it. Our partnership with the client starts when the car is sold, and we work together to make sure the product that leaves our building matches expectations. This has been the cornerstone of our business, and we have applied this formula now to more than 200 Bugeye Sprites that we have shipped to new homes.
People sometimes ask if we have a slow season, but we are busy all year long, and so even in January, I am out road testing the cars to make sure I am comfortable signing off on their departure. I sometimes have to wait for rain to wash off any salt on the roads, but one big benefit of living on the Connecticut shoreline is that are winters are relatively mild and year-round driving is quite doable. We leave the tops off since it makes service much easier, but with good gloves and a hat, convertible winter driving for short trips is not a problem.
Almost every one of our cars is customized after sale to meet the particular needs of the new owner. Thus the green Bugeye “Marco” is being set up for a lot of highway use with a lower rear end ratio and five-speed transmission because the customer has asked for these modifications to suit his lifestyle. Not all of our customers need this level of customization. In fact, the silver car “Booker” needed only new shocks, headlight dipswitch and carburetor gaskets before departure. The black car “Becky” is being set-up with a five-speed too, but this is more for ease of use on short trips given the fully synchronized first gear.
Becky is also getting a rear main seal upgrade while the engine is out-that customer liked the idea of investing in a well-sealed engine while it was out of the car for the five-speed conversion, so here you can see a photo of the back of the engine after this upgrade. We have found that many of the cars leak at the oil pump “dog dish” cover on the back plate. If you look closely, you can see that we have removed, cleaned and re-soldered that metal cover to ensure that it won’t leak. You can clearly see the rear main seal upgrade in place, which adds the large red lip seal around the back of the crankshaft to help keep oil from leaking out the back of the engine. This is a chronic problem on all classic British cars, but especially common on 948 Bugeyes, which used a scroll to sling oil back into the engine, and it never worked terribly well. These two upgrades shown should make this particular engine much more leak-free. If you ever take out your engine, make sure the culprit for oil leaks is not the oil pump cover, because the rear seal is only part of what needs to be right. You can also see a picture here of Russ preparing the front of the engine for a re-seal as well.
Becky’s new short tonneau is now complete, in off-white for the heat it will face when the car arrives in Phoenix. You can see how Ken beautifully fit the tonneau around the roll bar, first with a template, and then with velcro to keep the cockpit weather-tite.
All the cars moved forward this week, ever closer to departure, just waiting for one more test drive before our network of enclosed shippers loads and delivers these babies to their new homes!