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Why your classic car needs new tires.

Everyone cheats on the date.

And it makes sense, most classics never even begin to wear out the tread. We just don’t drive them enough.

Here’s how you tell just how old your tires are:


058 date stamp

The tire above has a three digit date stamp. This means it was built before 2000. It would have made in the 5th week of 1998, or 88? There is no way of knowing (hence the change to four digits after 2000). All tires after 2000 have a four digit date stamp like the one below. That one was made in the 34th week of 2006, which means it’s 12 years old.

3406 date stamp

In actuality, both of these tires are in our discard pile that you see above. Even the 12 year-old tire is past its prime.

I can tell right away from the ride quality, the date stamp merely confirms what my butt already knows. Any tire more than about 8 years old has started to harden, and as such, it yields less and provides a firmer ride. Sprites need all the suspension they can get, and the tire is vital for a supple ride. Older tires also skitter along the tops of the peaks of any asphalt surface, instead of hooking up with the roadway. As such, an old tire doesn’t grip as well and certainly can’t brake as well.

I used to think this was all propaganda from tire sellers. But I have driven enough Sprites now over the same local roads to be able to feel the difference. Old tires don’t stick. Sprite suspension is so low tech that the tire is even more vital for a good ride and the safest drive. While I hate to put more tires into the waste stream, safety is more important, and if your British car stops 50 or just 10 feet sooner because the rubber is fresh, that might just save your Bugeye nose from some unsightly scars!

Please proceed to your car and check the tire date stamps today. 13 inch tires are cheap, about 1/4 of the price of modern tires for most SUVs.

Shameless plug: we sell the tire we use on all our restorations, you can find it by clicking here.

Gas-powered 1275 VS electric Bugeye Sprite

Our electric Bugeye is now ready for its new interior, and we are very excited. The car is sorted and exceeds our expectations mechanically, and now we can make it look stunning. Stay tuned!

If you have been following this project, you know I am in love with it, mainly because it is smooth and consistent. I get the feeling that it will be just as smooth and consistent in 100,000 miles. This is a big service interval in the British classic car world, where the life span of a newly rebuilt 948 engine may only be about 50,000 miles.

This week, I wanted to share two videos… the first is of a gas powered Bugeye with a newly rebuilt 1275 engine and five speed Ford transmission. We installed this upgraded powertrain for Len from New Jersey, and finished it with the same anthracite wheels and new tires you see on the electric Bugeye. Len’s car now tracks like an arrow and cruises beautifully at 70 mph, @ about 3300 RPMs in fifth gear.

The sound is just about perfect, courtesy of our custom twin-tipped muffler. Zero-60 time is 15.27 seconds (stock 948 was reported to be 20.5 in 1958). By the way, I backed off a bit because of the truck bearing down on me, so this time is a bit slower than what is possible…

Next is “Sparky,”our electric prototype, with a 4:22 rear end. Zero to 60 time is 10.2 seconds, a full five seconds faster. It also gets to 60 in about half the distance, 530 feet vs 898 ft. The sound you might love in the prior video is completely missing. But I have come to love the electric motor sound too. It’s not a replacement for a sweet exhaust note, it’s just a different cool sound. In fact it makes me think back to black and white Flash Gordon television I used to watch as a kid. Whenever Flash jumped into Dr Zarkov’s rocket to go anywhere, the spaceship made an electric buzzing noise, and I think of Flash each time I take off…

The electric turns 4800 rpms at 75 mph. You might notice the that electric motor really comes on as the RPMs climb. We will next switch to a 4:55 rear end for even more off the line performance. This will raise the RPMs on the highway, but this electric motor doesn’t care the way our gas engines do. Load matters more than RPMs. Range is about 100 miles per full charge. This car is fit with a fast charger so it works at highway charging stations.

We look forward to the next electric conversion… if you have a Bugeye sitting on your property with a worn 948 engine and transmission, our electric direct drive conversion is an attractive option! Or, if you would prefer a rebuilt 1275 with a five speed, we have that kit in stock too! Call or email to get your car on our winter schedule! We can pick up your car anywhere in the country, even if it doesn’t run.

Bugeye Sprite front rocker panel repair

One of the chronic Bugeye rust areas is the forward portion of the rocker panel. It would seem that road contaminates thrown off the front wheel batter this part of the car, and accelerate corrosion. The passenger side seems to take the brunt of it because of the crown of the road, which, of course, causes water and salt to gather on the curb side where the right front tire can throw it up.

The car pictured here is one we are preparing for a repaint. It features this exact kind of rust-through on the passenger side, and it is fortunately contained on just the outer skin of the rocker. You can see the box of the passenger footwell (inner sill) is still intact. You can also see the bondo on the back side of the piece we cut away, evidence of a former repair.

Kenny does an artful job cutting away the outer skin, and grafting the front portion onto the balance of the rocker. The result is impressive, and now strong and sealed for many years to come.

The next chilling chapter of the electric Bugeye Sprite

This was a busy week, with a full house of Bugeyes needing various repairs and restoration work. Our electric project is still a priority, and we made time to add a new radiator to our prototype electric car. This one is tiny, all it has to do is cool the controller, the brain that manages the batteries and motor.

Juice comes in, juice goes out! The AC Bugeye Electric motor controller, roughed-in place, with more wiring to still complete.


I know that the Bugeye Sprite is all about simplicity, and an electronic brain is exactly the antithesis of what the Bugeye is all about. But until further notice, I am hooked on the smooth and maintenance free/turn-key operation of an electric Bugeye. In addition, of the 19 Bugeyes in our building at the moment, the electric is by far the fastest of the bunch. So if we need to add a little cooling to keep the brains of the operation happy, I am more than willing to comply.

I thought you might find this story interesting, as it represents one more way in which we had to engineer a solution to a British car challenge. It turns out that the controller is smart enough to de-rate the power it will transmit to the motor if it gets too hot. You can still limp home, but you don’t get the full power that makes this vehicle so addictive. We set out to fix the problem once and for all so we added a liquid cooled chill plate under the controller.

The silver plate you see in the photo above sandwiches underneath the controller box. You can see the recesses that will carry the antifreeze under the aluminum case that houses the controller. The square O ring around the perimeter keeps the antifreeze in place. Two half inch hoses and a small pump allow the antifreeze to circulate to a small heat exchanger we fit alongside the batteries.

Now, the controller will stay much cooler, which will allow us to send more power to the rear wheels. And thus our car is almost ready for range testing. If the weather improves, we will be out driving the car throughout the balance of the month.

Bugeye Sprite Dashboard Bliss

About the nicest thing you can do to your Bugeye is restore the dashboard. It’s like the headboard in your master bedroom. You see it every night before you lay down with the one you love.

And so it should look nice. It is the foundation of your cockpit, the holder of your precious gauges and the mount for your accurate switch gear. Each dashboard is also a tribute to the factory and designers who originally created your car.

Bugeye “London,” with dashboard removed for restoration.


The reality in the field, however, is that most old car dashboards have become cheezy. Bugeyes, being inexpensive through the years, often sport extra holes for switches, gauges and whatever people felt they needed to hang. People never seemed to add extra stuff to their XKE or Dino dashboard, but the Bugeye dashboard is simple with a lot of open space, which seemed an open invitation for men to drill. Thus, we find old holes from former owners merely covered with vinyl, and that won’t do, since the vinyl will eventually shrink into the hole and leave a depression.

Bugeye factory radio punch out perforations


Further complicating maters is the original factory perforation that came on each dashboard so that dealers could punch out the dash and put in an AM radio. It would seem the holy grail to have a dash that is unmolested and still with its original perforated metal intact, but the reality is that a new dash recover will also shrink into those perforations and telegraph through your handsome new skin. And so you are left with a choice… to fill or not to fill?

Perforations/lumps/divits telegraph-through now removed black vinyl


In the case of the car and parts pictured here, the customer chose to have us fill the original perforations so he could get the most from this investment and the best looking face of his dashboard. We welded a plate behind the radio perforations and used a small amount of filler to smooth out the face and then sanded everything flat. Preparation is critical here, because the thin vinyl will not hide any imperfections.

You’ll notice we also welded up a few extra holes that were non-stock.

In the photos below, you can Kenny massage the vinyl cover into place, and carefully uses pleats and darts to stretch the material around the compound curves. The end result is a new, well-supported and tight cover, with no wrinkles and no extra holes.

Tony, the proud new owner of this Bugeye “London,” wanted us to change the color of the dash on his new blue bugeye from black to navy blue. We not only accomplished his goal, but by restoring the dashboard underneath, we have made the best possible foundation to support his dashboard cover for generations to come.

Want your dashboard to look this nice? We’ll pick up your car and bring it to our facility for restoration, or, you can also send us your dashboard and we will restore it. Email for more info!

Hybrid Bugeye 0-60 run… Midget meets Bugeye!

This is a really cool car I wanted to share before we send it back to its owners in Durham, NC. They sent us the car for a five speed upgrade, which is now complete.

What’s unique about this car is that it is a late 70s Midget with an awesome Bugeye body conversion. The car has all the Midget running gear, including half elliptical leaf springs which definately give a better ride than the stubby Bugeye springs. 14 inch wheels are fit, as is the later braking system. And the interior has been customized. Other than that, the car looks and feels like a Bugeye.

The car has a 1500 cc engine which was found in all the 75-80 midgets (and Spitfires). Twin carbs were fit, as is a great exhaust system and our sport muffler.
If you are wondering if it’s quick, a good 1275 engine feels about the same. Both the 1500 and 1275 were apparently rated at 65 HP, although the 1500 is rumored to have more torque. This one reached 60 in 16.29 seconds. I am sure I can do better with a good take off, this one was not my best start.

Our new electronic GPS speedos give us a way more effectively compare power output of different Bugeye configurations. Here, I am testing the car prior to loading it into a trailer for the trip home.

For those of you interested in our electric car, this week, we changed the rear end from 3.9 to 4:22 and shaved 1.75 seconds off the 0-60 time. Now the battery powered car will run to 60 in 10.98 seconds. Next week, we will see if we can shave a bit more off that with another rear end gear change. We can easily sacrifice highway speed for better acceleration, and we hope the electric Bugeye will be the fastest we have tested! More later!

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