Jay Leno has made a new video chronicling his 1959 Bugeye, which is linked below. Jay’s car has many similarities to “Muffin,” another white Bugeye survivor, just purchased this week by Bob in New Jersey (our 354th). Jay obtained his original survivor and has spent the past few months going through it and this is the first peek at how the project has moved forward. This video is one more mainstream endorsement of the car that we love so much, and you can see how giddy Jay is while he plays with it!
As someone who owns a seemingly limitless number of amazing classics and breathtaking supercars from all eras, Jay’s perspective is quite valuable. He seems to be having just as much fun with the Bugeye as he does with his McLaren F1!
His video is a nice overview of the car and its appeal and will help mint new Bugeye fans. As all our readers already know, these cars are delightful and they need to be preserved. Bugeye preservation is our undying commitment.
I’m hoping Jay will one day drive our car 501, the first production Bugeye which we are preparing to exact and correct original concours condition. I bet he would also enjoy taking one of our most modified versions for a spin, too! He talks a lot in the video about “throwing in” the larger 1275 Engine, but he’s somewhat dismissive of the idea and more fond of its original design given that there isn’t that much of a spread between the two platforms. However, we found that if you push the envelope on the 1275 just right, you still retain the Bugeye DNA but end-up with something quite spectacular, and quite unique. Taking and leveraging all the best essence of a Bugeye and making it even better than the factory product is what I’m hoping to one day share with Jay in a driving video that compares 501 to our best modified product. (Jay, if you’re reading this, we’d love to bring some cars out to California and spend some time with you!)
It’s also worth noting a couple of key details in which we are very interested now that we’re preparing 501 to National Concours standards. I couldn’t help but notice that in spite of Jay’s desire to retain as much originality for the White Bugeye as was possible, he’s showing in the video that he’s purchased a new reproduction radiator for his Bugeye, which has four ridges in the header tank and is not correct. The original Bugeye radiators had just three dimples in the top tank. We have a large inventory of original radiators that are in excellent shape, and I’d be delighted to provide one for that car. (If you’re looking for them for yourself you can find them in our catalog here.) These are three-rib original header tanks and they were only removed from our cars for aluminum radiator upgrades, but they’re perfectly usable for a project such as Jay’s (or your own!).
Also quite apparent to me is that even in the quest for originality, you still need great lever shocks. While they have retained the originals on Jay’s white car, you can see by the way the camera is twitching in the driving segment that his front shocks are toast and they need to be replaced. We’ve got the right Reproduction originals in stock that will make Jay’s car, or any survivor, ride at its best once again.
Front shocks are critical to the overall drivability of Sprites, and any twitchy attributes of these short wheelbase cars are accentuated when the front shocks are blown. Failed lever shocks are one of the most common Bugeye ailments; we must go through 1000 every year! New front shocks will make Jay’s car much more stable. Bounce your front end, if the damping is gone, you should replace the front shocks right away.
I’m delighted to see that Jay Leno is another admirer of the Bugeye lifestyle! Every year, more and more people get excited about Bugeyes. And this steady growth in popularity will help the market appreciate for years to come.