The Bugeye Sprite convertible top (or “hood” in the UK) is an odd work of art. It’s a little rag that looks just right on the car. These “hoods” (as they say in the UK) seem completely appropriate for what was a $1,795 car when new.
However, a German top it is not. That is to say, most early Sprite tops fit like crap.
We have fit on no less than 100 British car tops. I love fitting them, because no two are the same, and it’s always exciting. All you people who sold your cars with new tops in the box, well, we’re the people who pull them out of the box and install the fittings and stretch the tops to the cars. It’s a tailoring job that we enjoy. No two cars are the same. No two top frames are the same. No two tops seem the same. Vinyl shrinks with age. Some vinyls stretch more than others. Yup, never dull or boring.
In this post I want to share a little about subtleties of Bugeye tops. First, the initial 5000 or so Frogeyes came with a thin windshield with 9 studs across the front. Thus the early tops were different, more like what you see on a TR3. The later tops have two studs on the windscreen, and a bar that engages inside the frame. This bar on later cars is also often missing BTW, and we sell those too, you can find them by clicking here.
The car pictured here has an early top. The other subtle difference is the early top bow. It was not spring loaded, and a bit shorter. This car has the corect bow, with no vertical movement. I am guessing the designers added the springs in the bow to better tension the top on later cars. But the early bows did not have a provision to add upward tension once the top was erected which makes them particularly hard to fit.
When we installed this new (non everflex!) top shown here and opened the top bow to stretch the vinyl, the top looked quite baggy. With no way to move the bow upward, we chose to modify the cross bar and limit its forward travel. We welded a stop on the bows so the front bar would not deploy fully forward, thus parking at the point of maximum tension, and also best aligning with he pleats in the top (it’s the square tab you see in the short hinged bars). It was a quick fix that makes the top look far better than normal. The welded stop is out of the way such that the bows can still collapse for storage.
I wanted to share this trick to give you one more tool to get your top to fit better. This will work on early and late tops if you have a top bow that gets too flat when you open it fully. By limiting the forward throw, you can make your top bow look like it fits the top!
Of course we would be happy to pick up your car and put a new top on for you (as well as sort anything else that needs help while your car is here). We currently have cars in the building from California, New Hampshire and Alabama. They are all getting makeovers. Let us know if we can come retrieve yours!
We sell a wonderful ever flex top, in multiple colors, for either early or late cars. I strongly recommend this product if you want to fit your own top, it’s more forgiving, fits better, and you will get a better result that is easier to put up when a rain shower looks imminent. Most of the tops you buy online from other sources do not fit well, so beware. Our everflex top works, so click here if you need one!