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(if a car is not pictured here, it has been sold)


1250 Miles in a Bugeye Sprite, and counting!

These intrepid travelers flew-in from Austin, Texas last weekend and took off in their new Bugeye “Molly” last week. 1250 miles later, they are still on a very interesting geography experiment. I thought they were headed back to Austin but their first stop was due North of our shop in Burlington, VT. This is a good sign. It must mean that Molly is a lot of fun to drive.

Bugeye “electronic key” shirts… car only runs when matching t-shirts are worn.

Amanda and Vic are on one most excellent road trip. And they are collecting pictures of good food and roadside monuments to prove it. For us, it’s a great reliability test, and the further they go, the more we learn about how to build the most drivable British car.

Just add hats and cowboy boots.

Our goal has always been to produce great cars our clients can really use. It’s easy to fall in love with an Internet bride while surfing, but will that classic car make it around the block when it arrives?

And you thought Mercedes Gullwing luggage was special.

We are in the details business, and our goal is for you to get into one of our cars and drive it 1250 miles (and hopefully a whole lot more!) without issue. Customers like Amanda and Vic give us a chance to see how well we are doing.

Breakfast in Burlington… while drivers gorge, Molly gathers over-the-counter drugs across the street for what lies ahead.

After a nice breakfast in Burlington, Molly boarded the ferry to Plattsburgh, NY, and our crew headed to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater out in Western Pennsylvania (Southeast of Pittsburgh.

Across Lake Champlain, to Plattsburgh, NY.
The timeless design world tour

And then back to Gettysburgh. Next stop, Key West! If they keep going, they will eventually run into Texas… (it’s the big one down there somewhere).

Gettysburg. Changing times, changing automotive priorities.

The car is performing wonderfully. She has consumed one quart of oil, which is probably about right for a middle-aged 948 engine. And no issues other than some lighting challenges after an afternoon in the rain. Those cute little British wiring bullets are not as water tight as one might like. And Molly has an older wiring harness, the changing of which was not part of the scope of our preparations. Here’s to drier weather as they head South!

Here’s an excerpt from Amanda’s notebook:

Observations after our first day in Mollie… Driving is far more elemental. More like a motorcycle than a modern car. You are connected to everything around you, nothing filters you from the road and the world around you. Smells, sights, sounds, wind, bugs. It is truly a tiny car, parking is a breeze, but she can hide behind a subcompact. You can’t be in a hurry, you will be stopped constantly by people that want to talk about the car. There seems to be a wave unique to old British car drivers, we seem to now be in the club. There is a surprising amount of leg room, but don’t let you cell phone slide under the seat!  Major rescue operation to get it out lol. I now understand why women used to wear hair scarves!  Sunscreen is a must!

Thank you for sharing your adventure with us Amanda, Vic and Molly! We’ll have another update next week!

To Austin in an Austin

This is “Molly,” our 245th Bugeye, and this weekend she departs on a big adventure. Amanda and Vic have flown in from Texas and they will begin their drive from to Connecticut to Austin this Sunday. This will be the second longest maiden voyage a customer has made in their new Bugeye. (Rick drove his from our shop to Seattle by way of Arizona, and he holds the record).

This reliability run puts our departure checklist to the test. We carefully combed through this car all week long to make sure no stone was unturned. We checked everything, and then checked it again. When we were all done, the charging system smoked on the final test drive!

Argh!

The regulator points stuck closed despite the fact that we had checked and cleaned them earlier in the week. Regardless, the smoke came out.

The best reliability solution we have is to upgrade to a genernator, which is what you see installed above. Along with it, we installed a dummy regulator (below), which is really a 50 amp fused junction box. That should be the last time the charging system fails, now that the offending Lucas regulator is banished for ever. Click here if you want a genernator for your car too!

We’ll have updates next week regardling Molly’s 2000 mile. We’ll keep you posted!

Bugeye Sprite-Will I fit?

This is Mary, the proud new owner (with her husband Frank, he might also get to drive it) of our Bugeye “Vanilla.” It is always really fun for us to turn new people onto these cars, and clearly, here we have a great new member(s) of the tribe.

Frank and Mary came to visit so we could confirm fitment. She’s 5’1 and the seat was low for her. You can see in the photo above that her head was initially a bit low in the windshield glass (note the gap between her head and the top of the windshield).

In the photo above you can see the gap with Mary seated on our more firm seat pillow. We removed the less dense foam from the seat pan and recovered our more comfortable and slightly taller seat foam with the red and white seat cover. Now, Mary is ready to go.

Original Bugeye seat foam (left) next to our thicker replacement foam (right)

The original Sprite seat base foams are easy to identify since they are chambered, with large holes on the back of the pillow. Our replacement might be thicker than the original, although we will never know how much that original foam has compacted in 60 years-perhaps they were once this thick! But the foam we use is very dense, and thus more comfortable, more shock absorbing, and can help shorter folks fit the car. If you would like one (or two) of these thicker pillows, you can order them by clicking here.

Another great nice upgrade we provided was to weld extensions on the driver’s seat tracks. With this enhancement, the seat can slide forward far enough for Mary, and also slide fully back for Frank. We might have moved the mounts forward for Mary, but this would have compromised the length for Frank. Extending the tracks allows the best of both worlds, and a greater range of possibilities. We also left the slightly less dense foam in the passenger seat, so Frank can switch seat bottoms when he drives the car if he feels that Mary’s pillow is too high.

Black track extensions above allow the seat to slide further forward than stock

Our car #248 is now ready to go, with custom seating given the needs of the new owners. This one proves yet again that Sprites can accommodate a wide range of users, despite it’s small overall size. Our tallest customer yet is 6’4″ and with Mary at 5’1,” here’s further proof that just about anyone can fit into a Frogeye.

Four-post double Bugeye lift

Space is always at a premium in our shop. Even with our new addition, we still have too many cars and not enough space. As a partial solution we have invested in three new four post lifts, and for this lift pictured below, Ken welded-on two extensions, so that this 8000 pound lift can now raise two Bugeyes at once.

Below you can see the piece of angle iron he bolted to the edge of the lift. To that, he welded several lengths of heavy angle iron.

Next, he boxed in the new platforms and then welded on steel diamond plate. You can see one finished lift extension below.

And here you can see two Bugeyes sharing the lift, nose to nose. The lighter tail end overhangs the original deck and is supported by the extension.

We’ll build a second one like this during the coming week, which will allow us four in the air and four underneath… a Bugeye eight-pack!

Thank you, Gumby!

This is the best gas powered Bugeye we have ever built. I am lucky it is mine.

In case you are new to our universe, this is the ’59 Bugeye that started it all. Gumby was once a beater. Now it’s our flagship. Soon we will sell our 250th Bugeyes, a milestone I would never have imagined when I first met this worn-out Sprite parked by the curb. I enjoyed taking a ride with Gumby today, and hereby express my gratitude to the car that has given birth a now 12-year old business that is primarily dedicated to its siblings.

The interior is custom sewn (in house) leather, with a custom quilted pattern, derivative of the ribs that would have been stock when Gumby was new. When I got the car in 1979, it had shiny metallic teal blue seats, so it seemed only fair that I should customize them and make them extra nice.

Everyone always asks about the color… It’s Aston Martin Racing Green with Mercedes Palladian silver metallic stripes. It’s certainly not a stock color combination, but most people agree it looks just right.

Anything you see on Gumby is available for your car… just ask, we have everything in our parts catalog, and can also custom build a car just for you.

Another year, another Summer in love with British classics

I spent some time this week upgrading the pictures of a few of the cars on our site. We have a number of extremely handsome classics for sale at the moment, and up until now, I have not had time to ensure the photos do them justice. So I jumped into two Bugeyes, a TR2, a Healey 100, and drove them all to a gorgeous marsh setting near our Quonset hut, to create some new photo albums.

Aiden. The best of the best.

I accomplished my mission, and you can the results from my evening photo sessions peppered in this post. (Feel free to click on any car here to see the rest of the photo album for that particular car elsewhere on our site.)

But that’s not what I wanted to share in this particular post.

While I was standing out there in the pastoral setting shown here, I couldn’t help but reflect on why we do this. Why do we obsess about the perfect restoration, the best innovation, the most reliable product? Why do you read this blog each week, why does it matter to you enough so that, (as one reader told me this week) if it doesn’t show up in his inbox on Saturday morning, he has a bad day?

A Bugeye called Yellow (Primrose).

The more time I spend with these old cars, the more I realize just how special these cars really are. (If you are reading this, you likely agree). I see it in the way people smile at what emerges from our driveway. I see it in the faces of people on the highway, hanging out of the passenger side window, smart phones in hand, filming my presence. I see it in the face of customers and couriers alike, who turn the corner inside our building and see a row of sculptures one can actually drive (and afford).

People want so badly for their automobile to have a personality. And this is a tough thing to manifest in today’s new car market. Sure, some folks might give their new Nissan Altima a cute name, but walk through any parking lot and tell me which car is memorable. These days, the supermarket lot is a sea of sameness, and when I leave work, I want my car to provide a kind of sanctuary that is not currently available in what I might purchase at today’s auto dealership.

1967 Austin Healey 3000. Different location, same point.

Leslie and I were in Houston recently where we rented a car to drive from the Airport out to College Station to visit a friend. The rental car clerk gave us our choice of keys, and we figured we’d try the Chrysler 300 that looked like the one below. It’s a nice new car with some personality, albeit a bit mean.

Image result for chrysler 300

We spent about 300 miles with this car, and while it was a great car that did everything well, it was not a memorable car. It was not a car in which I could ever see myself falling in love. Or collecting. Or that would one day result in “300guy.com (run by my heirs). It is, sadly, just a car.

I am really sorry if you are the director of the Chrysler 300 club, but I think you know what I mean… cars today are not the same as the cars about which we obsess. We are not the same either. What we want, and what the highways in and around Houston (and other cities) seem to verify, is a car that is quiet and comfortable, with amazing digital climate control, so we can drive in peace and quiet in a protective box, perhaps more focused on our personal electronic devices than on the car or on DRIVING.

British Sportscars are anything but that.

1955 Triumph TR2. Automotive profile redefined.

And this is my point. We have a different concept of what defines a nice car. It has to have grace. And maybe even leak a little oil. We have this concept in our DNA. Most new drivers do not. And new offerings in the marketplace are not helping our cause. And every year, the new and the old are, well, getting further apart.

And so if you have a classic cars, (any classic car!), won’t you please get out this weekend and drive it.

Show it off.

If your classic is just collecting dust in your garage, we’ll pick it up and make it run great. Or we’ll buy it and find it a new owner who can carry the torch. We need you and/or your car out there to promote the possibility that all cars do not need to be alike.

That grill! That Windshield! And a belt! 1956 Austin Healey 100 with M kit

Our work is about providing vehicles that have a fighting chance of competing on modern roadways, courtesy of LED brakes lights and other reliability upgrades we have tested now on almost 250 cars. Whether you want to drive to the racetrack, run some laps and drive home again, or noodle over to the cafe to enjoy a coffee with your pals, our goal is to make an old car that can drive out of your garage and preach this message to the people. Cars matter. What you choose to drive matters.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for being a part of our mission. We are keeping the flame alive here and we hope more people will join us.

Contact us at David@bugeyeguy.com or call (203)-208-0980 during business hours