I never would not have thought we could have handled so many Bugeyes since I started our business in 2007 (341 sold as of this writing). Nor would I have ever thought purchasing my Bugeye “Gumby” in 1978 would one day spawn such an all-consuming enterprise. From concours gold to electric conversion, we (and our Bugeyes) have had a wonderful ride. We’ve built a lot of great cars and made a lot of drivers (and spectators) very happy.
This past December, I made my most significant purchase ever, and bought car AN5/501, the first production Bugeye Sprite. It seems entirely fitting to me that we should own this car, and that we should do everything we can to leverage our experience to make it as accurate as possible so that it can protect and share this critical piece of British sports car history.
It hasn’t been an easy car to acquire… 501 is currently in Melbourne. We’ve shipped lots of cars over the years (including a Jaguar to Beirut) so how hard could it be to ship a car from Australia? Well, in the midst of a pandemic with supply chain issues all over the globe, it turns out it’s not so easy. It could take months before we can get a spot on a ship from Melbourne to the Eastern USA, because there are no ships, no containers and no dock workers.
But eventually, we’ll get the car here. And then the fun begins.
501 was restored in Australia over the past ten or so years by an Australian Bugeyeguy named Tony Bennetto, who tragically passed away on holiday in 2017. Tony was a passionate Sprite lover, and a good friend to many Sprite lovers here in the states. He wanted the best for 501 just like we do, and we were lucky to purchase the car from his widow. The photos shown here showcase the work done by Tony and his team.
I had tried to purchase 501 way back in about 2011, when the car was first offered for sale in California by one Paul Strong, who stored the car since about 1973. He had purchased it from Alla May (see registration above). 501 had been raced hard and modfied her husband, but was certainly restorable. While I bid on the car back then, Tony was victorious and shipped the car to Australia, where he restored the car. We hope to do his mission justice and to only make it an even more accurate representation of the car as it was first offered for sale in March of 1958.
It’s the car that started the Bugeye universe we inhabit, and we’re excited to have it coming here! And while we wait, this new t shirt will have to suffice! Click here if you would like your own – while there can only be one AN5 501, we have lots of shirts on the way!