0-60 time for an Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite

How fast is your Bugeye?

I spent some time this week in a very technologically advanced Bugeye. In fact, next to our FrogE electric (coming soon!), this may be the most modern Bugeye on the road today. Why? Because of our new GPS powered speedometer, a tiny instrument that comes loaded with a slew of modern electronic and digital features.

Why would anyone need this in a car that is all about elemental simplicity? This is a car that doesn’t even have external door handles, let alone door locks.

Because it’s fun.

One of our more intrepid customers “Farid” routinely uses this red Bugeye for trips from NYC to Milford, CT. His speedo was working erratically, and he wanted it repaired. We diagnosed a loose drive gear in the transmission, a chronic Sprite problem that requires a complete transmission disassembly to fix. An easier repair was to install our new GPS powered electric speedo. One of my favorite features available after this fix is the 0-60 timer, which helps us to answer the perennial question, how much faster is a 1275 Bugeye than a stock 948? Watch below:

The video shows my first run, not too aggressive with a bit of an uphill, at 17.50. My fastest time to 60 was 15.84 seconds. While this sounds very slow compared to modern cars, it’s plenty fast to merge with highway traffic on Interstate 95. And if you want to go faster, this instrument gives you a novel gadget for evaluating tuning improvements. In 1958, Road and Track reported the stock Bugeye 0-60 time as 20.8 seconds. Now, everyone compete for the best time!

I have to confess I was mesmerized by the rock solid analog speed indicator. It never wavered. All my life, speedos and tach have floated through a range of values, as mechanical cables told the gauges what to say. Now, the electronic age is available in your Bugeye cockpit. And I confess I found it quite entertaining.

Other functions you get with the GPS speedo: compass heading, altimeter (86FT), an accurate digital trip odometer (that actually works), time of day, maximum peak speed (which also moves the analog needle to simultaneously display the value and quarter mile time. Check these out in our catalog by clicking here!

You can see pictures of the other screens in the album below. You scroll through the functions with the rubber button on the gauge face. Shown here in the album are compass heading, time, trip odometer and altitude. For 0-60 runs, you hold the button down when in this function to zero the digits. Once you begin moving, the timer begins. When you hit 60 MPH, the times freezes, and only resets when you hit the button again or turn off power. Distance traveled to 60 is also displayed…

Bugeye Sprites with Stripes

Stripes are tricky. Get ’em right and enhance the look of your car. There is no end to the possibilities. But do it wrong, and you can really kill a great restoration.

Here’s a car we are painting this week for a client from Alabama. It is being finished in Olde English White, with a base/clearcoat modern urethane paint. You can see the glossy clear applied in the picture above, and no clear coat yet in the pictures below.

This customer wanted blue stripes for his car, which we felt might not coordinate well with his deep red interior so we settled on blue stripes with red borders, and here are the first pictures as the car was painted just this week.

One key decision to make is whether you want to stripe under the grill. Our painter says it looks like a Bugeye with a goatee, but I think it is is essential to complete the look. Hence you can see the stripes under the grill in the photo below (and without above).

Which do you prefer?

We’ve done quite a few Bugeyes with stripes, the cars support them well, especially if your car has performance modifications, like a roll bar or custom wheels. I have shown a photo gallery below, so you can see the spacing we prefer. You’ll notice all our jobs are centered between the headlights and usually carried almost right to the headlight buckets. Some people like to use offset stripes, but they are even more risky, so we play it safe with center stripes. We have also experimented with as many as four fine stripes between the larger stripes, as you can see in the photo gallery below which includes a few cars we painted and a bunch that came to us with their stripes in place. There’s no right answer, it’s all moving art…

Two stunning Austin Healey Bugeye Sprites with choice modifications

Here’s our #226th and #227th cars sold, as we make final preparations for their departure to new homes. These are both very high level cars, with 948 engines and four speed transmissions. They left together in an enclosed two-car trailer, one for New Jersey, the other for New York. You can see their delivery packaging below-they kept each other company.

Both Sprites are mostly stock, yet each car is quite different. That’s part of the fun for us… after now 228 Bugeyes prepared and sold, no two have been the same. Each one is a quest for the ultimate combination of old and new accessories. Each one is also a unique build to suit the needs of the new owner. And each one teaches us just a little bit more. We are proud to have built so many, and quite grateful to the great customers who have given us the chance to celebrate these great cars and make them better than ever.

“Crane,” (the olde English white car shown at left) was fit with LED lights all around, tri bar pl 700 headlights, a front anti-roll bar, trickle charger, solid state regulator (for greater charging system reliabilty) and topped off with a reproduction of the original owners manual loaded into the door pocket.

Primrose “Rose” was fit with an aluminum accelerator pedal, center console, preferred car cover, new side curtains and original style choke knob and cable. We have clients who prefer stock cars and clients who prefer modified cars and everything in between. This is one of the luxuries of specializing in the Frogeye… modifications abound and it’s always interesting to prepare a car once a buyer steps forward.

These were cheap sports cars and owners have traditionally felt at ease modifying them to taste. “Matching numbers” matters big time if you are into 356 Porsches, but with Bugeyes (most of the time) anything goes. 948 engines were routinely upgraded to 1098 and 1275 units. And even if your car had the original engine (like these two examples shown) the numbers don’t match anyway-BMC used an engine with a number “in range” but not matching the chassis number. So all Bugeye owners have permission to “have it their way” (within reason). We work hard to make our modifications look like they belong. Our catalog continues to grow with offerings that will help any Sprite owner personalize and better enjoy their car.

Below, you can see a short video about the modifications shown. There you can also find links to our parts catalog for the accessories showcased in this post, should you want to (further) upgrade your own Sprite.

Click the links below to learn more about the products mentioned in this post:

Accelerator pedal modification
Larger dashboard rear view mirror
Accurate Mark 1 choke knob and cable
Our preferred car cover
Center console
LED park and turn signal light kit with electronic flasher
LED Brake and park light kit
Front sway bar to reduce body roll
Original owners handbook
tri bar headlights
solid state regulator
trickle charger

Austin Healey Modifications

Modifications are on my mind, particularly as our electric car nears completion. This green Bugeye below looks and feels like a Bugeye, yet everything is different. I am still getting used to seeing a large battery boxes when I look at the engine bay. Exciting, (especially with 108 lbs of torque generated by the AC motor under the boxes) but very unfamiliar.
“Pal,” the light blue Bugeye parked alongside, is also transforming into a a different kind of modified Super Sprite, with a supercharger and multiple other modifications, so that this blue car, while it also looks and feels like a Bugeye, is also upgraded in just about every way.

How do you feel about modifications? Most of us love the pure essence of our British roadsters, and we like to think we can switch to a spin-on oil filter perhaps, but keep the rest “original.” Now that we have sent more than 225 Bugeyes out into the world, we love the modifications more than ever, primarily because those mods help to keep our customers happy and out on the road instead of frustrated on the shoulder.

For example, “Pal” has our hot weather kit with better fan and radiator so that the car can handle more horsepower and Los Angeles temperatures with grace when it arrives at its final destination. The metal four blade fan is quaint, but the six blade version works a lot better if you want to stay cool.

Last week, I took my green modified Austin Healey 3000 to the “British by the Sea” car show in nearby Waterford, CT. That car has perhaps 50 different upgrades and modifications, including air conditioning and a twin spare tire rally-tribute boot lid. The entire rear seat area, which was never terribly useful unless your kids are just the right size, has been turned into a locker for fuses, electric relays and a superb audio amplifier.

Throughout this large British car show I marveled at the response from the audience. Some shook their heads in disbelief, as if to say, “why would anyone modify a Healey like this?” Many approved and showered praise on the incredible workmanship that went into the restoration. I couldn’t help but notice that our car attracted quite a crowd, while most of the other stunning Healeys in the line-up didn’t seem to be attracting too much attention. We lovers of British iron need that crowd. We need people to get interested and excited and to have an opinion about these cars. Anything we can do to stimulate discussion helps us all, as we strive to broaden the appeal of our little universe of wonderful cars.
When the green BJ8 was called for first in class, I was gratified to know that the approving votes won out, not because I needed another trophy, but because I was glad to see that people appreciate a well-modified car. Our car bested about a dozen other wonderful big Healeys, many that could have easily won the class.

If you like modified cars, you can see Pal’s modifications queued up in the video below, and I’ll show you some before and after pictures next week when the car is finished. You don’t need a limited slip differential in your Bugeye, but when you drive one thusly equipped, you might just agree it is a modification that makes your wonderful little car that much better!

All the mods in the video are available through our catalog. If you can’t find what you need at, please call us at 203 208 0980 and we will gladly add any missing products to our roster!

And maybe do this with your Bugeye too!

Matthew has been a great customer. Not only did he buy one of our cars (Marco), he also had us modify it for speed. We attached a five speed transmission to his 1275 engine and an aluminum radiator so he could do battle in the DC area with his Sprite. We powder coated his new black rims and set up his 3.9 diff so that he could cruise at high speed per his request. His car serves as an excellent test bed for our product and we were gratified to get the following message from him:

I am driving her almost every day usually with a typical speed around 80 mph. According to my GPS speedometer, top speed so far has been 103 mph (not sure if that is accurate or not, although I have pushed her a few times on a straightaway at the local track) and my best 0 to 60 is 14 seconds….although I really don’t accelerating too aggressively. Not bad for a 60 year old car…you and your mechanics certainly do a good job on these cars!!!



He’s using our new GPS speedometer, which gives GPS based readings so it sure better be accurate! It also has a 0-60 recorder, which is how Matthew is getting the data above. The original 0-60 time for a 948CC Bugeye was around 23 seconds! You can get yours by clicking here.




Our new tachometers just arrived as well (pictured below). You can find these in our catalog by clicking here…

Matthew is also a pilot who loves vintage aircraft. Here’s his Bugeye parked with his two tail draggers!

Finally, a Bugeye Sprite that doesn’t leak oil.

And this is it’s motor… an AC unit with 88 HP and 108 foot pounds of torque. Yes, we are building an electric Bugeye Sprite.

This is a big event for us, and we hope it will also be a positive event for the classic sportscar world.

Believe me, I have been smelling like hydrocarbons my entire life, and I have three of my very own dinosaur powered Bugeyes. But I have yet to attend a British car club event with more than a few token souls under the age of 50, and I believe we have to adapt to our new reality in order to keep these cars alive. More and more new car brands are offering electric vehicles in coming years. My hope is that an electric Bugeye will bring more new people into our world, the world of eccentric British sportscars that we all love so much.

Please forgive me for building a great Bugeye with no exhaust note. But I am hoping that there will be multiple other benefits that will offset the loss of the gas-powered soundtrack so integral to the ride.

Time will tell.

Our intention is to offer zero emission power as one more option for anyone who wants to own a Bugeye. We plan to continue to build awesome gasoline-powered cars. We have a very big carbon footprint. This will help.

We will also sell kits for anyone wanting to convert their own Sprite to electric power.

Our kit is completely reversible. The motor fits neatly in the transmission tunnel, about where the gearbox used to live. You can see us offering the motor up to the frame brackets in the photo here.

The batteries occupy the space formerly occupied by the engine. 25% of the battery power will hang under the trunk floor in the space formerly occupied by the fuel tank and muffler.

We are hard at work making our car look and feel just like a vintage Bugeye. We have used stock cosmetics wherever possible.

Above is a link for great video about a 1969 electric E-type built by the Jaguar factory. You’ll notice they have made a digital dashboard which looks very futuristic. Instead, our dash looks just like a period Bugeye, except our speedo is GPS powered, the tach is pulse driven off the motor shaft and our fuel gauge reads battery capacity.

This is a prototype, and in the coming weeks, I hope you will enjoy watching this project unfold. We are excited about this development, and hope that you will be too! The car should be less than 50 pounds heavier than a stock Bugeye with a full fuel tank. Weight distribution will be similar to stock. We’ll do some side by side comparisons… we expect that the electric will be quicker to 60 mph than a gas-powered Bugeye with a stock 1275 engine. Range will be about 100 miles. When you consider that most of our clients only spend an hour or two with their bugeye per session anyway, this range should be just perfect. Our prototype BugeyE is British Racing GREEN.

Stay tuned!


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