It’s time for us to make some space in our crowded shop, and we’ve got so many projects moving forward that our fully restored electric car is not getting much use. I figured it would be nice to send it to a new home. Many people have inquired about kits and about having us build an electric Sprite for them and you might find that buying a completed car is a more practical and ultimately more cost-effective way to go.
We built “Frog-E” as the ultimate prototype for electric classic Sprite conversions. It has taken me up to 109 miles an hour with no shortage of speed in reserve, and it’s delightfully balanced with a 50-50 weight distribution courtesy of the fiberglass nose. In fact, the net weight of the car is about 50 pounds greater than a steel Stock Bugeye, so weight distribution is better and weight is minimally impacted by the electric conversion. Frog-E’s range is about 100 miles, the torque is smooth, ample, and delicious, and the ramp-up of power is moderated by the computerized controller, so there is no risk of breaking the driveline due to stomping on the “gas” pedal.
Sitting at a traffic light in silence in what would otherwise be a rattling and leaking British car is quite a novel and delightful experience, and if you would like to have a quiet British sports car that runs on “juice” you might consider this fantastic alternative to an oil burner.
You’ll notice the Lexan cover on the grille; it turns out that aerodynamics are critical for classic British sports car electric conversions and the drag produced by an open grille into an engine compartment is substantial. On Frog-E, the need for cooling air is nominal, so by covering the grill we increase the range, and that’s why you see the covered grill in the photos.
There is a small cooling pump and heat exchanger that is responsible for a chill plate under the electric controller and that’s adequate to keep the car happy. There is no heater installed in this car, but an electric seat heater could certainly be added if so desired (though it may affect the overall range of the car in doing so).
FrogE is also is fit with an MP3 player that loops a “vroom vroom” race car sound, activated by a horn push under the dash. You can have a good time silently sneaking up on car show attendees and then revving your audio engine to try and fool them into thinking that you’re pumping out some serious horsepower. Of course, it sounds more like the “Tony the Tiger” roaring horn that I used to have on my Schwinn stingray handlebars, so it’s guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone’s face.
This is primarily a silent electric cruiser with smooth and delightful torque. One-foot driving is available due to regenerative braking. If you’ve been searching for an automatic Bugeye, this is electric drivetrain gives you another way to meet that goal. Disc brakes are installed in front (drums in back), but regenerative braking does most of the stopping just by easing off the gas. Brake lights are programed to come on when you back off the throttle.
LED lights are installed, as is a cigarette lighter accessory in the dashboard for a USB charger. A handy cupholder replaces the shift lever. (The car comes with a bottle of our dirty engine oil root beer pre-installed into that cupholder).
You’ll find a 220-volt charging receptacle mounted behind behind the passenger seat for level two fast charging and a 110 charger fitted into the fuel filler cap. The windshield and cockpit trim is powder coated, the seats are custom-sewn with matching green piping, and the “Prince Of Darkness” shield adorns the front battery pack.
There are 40(!) batteries installed, most of them in the front engine bay area and the balance in the fuel tank area to attain the great 50-50 weight distribution we have built-in. The Electric motor has a roughly 85 HP equivalent; because there’s so much torque available instantly, you’ll still find this to be an exceptionally quick Sprite, much faster than what we could obtain with a 1275 gas-powered engine.
We started with a solid Bugeye and completely restored the body as needed, then painted it British Racing Green. We fit a fiberglass Bugeye nose, as well as a new grille and all-new chrome try to make it look exactly like a gas powered original. The Minilight-style wheels and tires are also new.
Frog-E comes with a clear title as a 1959 Bugeye and can be registered and titled anywhere in the world. There is no convertible top fit on the car, but a doeskin tonneau is fit and it looks quite stunning. We can certainly fit a matching top for the new owner if so desired. LED lights are also installed for impressive brake lights and daytime running lights. A front sway bar is also present.
If you’re wondering about the gearbox, this is a direct drive set-up. It’s basically a single-speed system that’s actuated by a toggle selector switch underneath the dash that gives you forward, neutral, and reverse. A GPS speedometer is fit that resembles a Sprite original gauge and the rpm tachometer indicates motor speed, but at Highway RPMs you’ll find the gauge pegged above the red line. 8 to 10,000 RPMs of engine speed are not uncommon for highway speeds and the electric motor is perfectly content to spin at these kinds of numbers. For around town driving you should see an exceptionally high range; only on the highway will you find that the range starts to drop.
The faster you go, the less efficient this set up becomes, but in my experience of ownership of this vehicle (for about four years) it’s hard for me to go anywhere in any Bugeye for more than 20 or 25 miles. My life is set up around our business and home and most of our errands and runs are generally 30 to 60 minutes and 20 or so miles at best. Obviously, if you live in an area where you have to jump on an Interstate to go anywhere, you might find that the range is slightly lower. But for anyone looking for a classic car to use for local runs, you’ll find that around town driving in these electrics is effortless and such driving also extends the range dramatically.
Feel free to call if you’re interested in more information! This is a delightful bugeye that’s fully restored.