I received a call this week about a Bugeye for sale that was “a bit rough.” The price was $800, but he would take $500 cash. To make matters more urgent, he said that someone was coming to grab it Saturday with a trailer and cash in hand, but no money had yet been exchanged, and as a courtesy, he wanted me to have a shot at bringing this classic back to life.
As luck would have it, I was planning to be just .7 miles away from this investment opportunity that very evening, and so I decided to stop by for a look.
What I discovered was a self-composting Sprite.
I started to make a mental list of what might be saved here. An original dashboard has value. And the gauges can be restored, after all, they have been shaded all these years by the cowl. And the steering wheel is restorable, as is the cockpit trim.
As I thought about what it would take to liberate the fasteners holding each of these parts in place, I marveled at the pull of gravity as a non-negotiable force, on the fuel tank, for example. Long after the gasoline evaporated, and the varnish left behind had outgassed, the top of the tank rusted through, filling the tank with water, which eventually rusted the floor of the tank.
Perforated on top and bottom, the weight of the now lacy and empty tank itself was still sufficient to have it fall to the earth, as the trunk floor finally evaporated after one last terminal rain drop. Who needs the The Lion King? British classic car lovers have long embraced the circle of life.
Sometimes, the raw power of nature is simply too much, even for the mighty Bugeye Sprite. Clearly, the earth is winning this battle, and soon this car will be fully digested and beyond revival by mere mortals. I paused to salute the impermanence of all things, snapped a few pictures to share, and headed home, amused by the notion of a tree that might one day sprout forth from this ground, and leak 20W-50 sap from its limbs.
But, wait, it comes with a spare nose!