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

FrogE Electric Bugeye Sprite top speed run

Top speed is not often discussed in the Frogeye-sphere. But we are in the sure-footed business. And each week we take another rattling car that should not be driven above 40 or so mph and turn it into a highway capable roadster.

Our electric cars are particularly capable, because we know upfront that the power plant puts the car in another league, and everything has to be set up right because they go fast in a (relative) hurry.

While out in FrogE number one the other day, I had to see what kind of top speed is possible for an electric Bugeye. Our GPS speedometer captures top speed as one of it’s many functions, which it saves as shown in the photo above. This photo was taken after the drive while in the garage.

Note that the analog needle stops at 100 and the peak digital meter seems to be without limits…

No valve clatter at high RPMs.

The amazing 1659 pound electric FrogE Sprite.

I had my first off-site FrogE charging session this week, at the Westport, CT train station, next to two BMW SUVs (as shown below). It was quite novel to plug-in a fuel nozzle for free, and I didn’t tire of watching the kilowatts flow.

Is this how most filling stations will look in 50 years?

Two electric SUVs and one electric SV.

Our big electric car news this week is the results from a session on four scales to measure the total weight of the car and the weight distribution. Below are the numbers for the FrogE electric #1 (seen above). The car weighs 1659 pounds, just 78 pounds more than the gas Bugeye we weighed about a year ago. That gas car had just 1/3 fuel on board. Were the tank full, the weight differential between the cars would be a mere 46 pounds. We’re excited that our electric is just roughly 50 pounds heavier when loaded enough batteries for a 100 mile range.

Near perfect 50/50 weight distribution in the electric FrogE

Even more exciting is the weight distribution. Above you can see perfect 50/50 weight distribution for the electric car, even better than the gas car below. No wonder the FrogE handles so nicely.

Close to 50/50 weight distribution in a gas-powered Bugeye, 1/3 fuel load

Choose your weapon

We now have the motor installed in our second electric Bugeye. While working today on the new battery boxes, we couldn’t resist a face-off between 1275 petrol power and our AC electric wonder.

It may look like the batteries on the left are taller than the cast iron lump on the right, but you are looking at just the top two battery layers. Many more cells are concentrated beneath what you see, in front of the already low motor that lives about where the original smooth case would be parked (as shown below). Seventy percent of the batteries fill the frame in front of the motor. The rest live in the area formerly occupied by the fuel tank.

Below you can see the rear 30% of the batteries mocked-up out on a template of the fuel tank. This box will hang under the trunk and bolt to the original fuel tank studs. It equals the mass and volume of the original tank full of fuel, so we can retain the correct weight balance.

This is an upside down template of Sprite fuel tank. The wires will pass through the filler neck hole in the trunk floor. You can see how these 14/50 batteries fit in the footprint of the tank.

I remain very enthused by the smoothness and power of the electric platform. The electric motor is bullet-proof and incredibly simple in comparison to the array of moving parts and pieces under the hood of the 1275 powered car.

Can I have a jump?

Most petrol-powered Bugeyes have a range of roughly 200 miles. I generally stop to re-fuel and stretch my legs every 150 miles on long gas-powered trips. Our FrogE’s range is shaping up to be closer to 125 miles (100 was originally expected). But Sprites are rarely used as long range cruisers, and more frequently driven around town for shorter stints.

Need some fuel?

I am most impressed by the smoothness of electric. It’s refreshing to drive a Sprite with no engine vibration at any speed. The 948 was never known for smoothness, especially if it is not balanced. The electric motor does what all electric motors do, it just hums.

I still can’t get used to the lack of oil leaks.

We are stocking-up on components so we can offer kits and more conversions in the near future. We’re working to perfect the electric option, and to offer electric alongside our gas powered options, for many years to come.

Pegged needles

Pegged needles are forever seductive. 

Highway cruising @72mph @ 6000 RPMs with a 5:38 rear end in our electric FrogE

When I first reported to driver simulator class in 1978, I ran into the room with glee, because this was a necessary step on the pathway to a driver’s license, and the freedom (and British cars) that came with it.

In the basement of the Archbishop Stepinac High School I ran to the first available seat in what looked like a well-anchored bumper car. This would be my first car, in a sense, even though it never moved. We were to simply follow along from these seats while a “Leave it to Beaver” era driver education movie played, with bouncing balls and doors opening when you least expected. We were to “drive” along with the film, and respond accordingly. Our cranky instructor may have seen this film a few too many times, but he did teach me about covering the brake, and about how much time that can save, so I thank him for that. But technology was so absent from this equipment that I would swear the entire modern video game industry was inspired by these prehistoric simulators.

We each had our own controls, but the period GM steering wheels freewheeled and the gas pedal didn’t seem connected to anything. However, if you floored it, which we all did upon sitting down, the horizontal speedo climbed all the way to the far side of the dial, about 120, and that felt really good, even though it made no difference at all when the Impala in the movie pulled out into your path, or the lumber fell off the truck you were following down Elm Street.

We are all hopelessly addicted to the top end.

And so I found myself on the highway this week in our Frog-E electric, which we have re-geared for max acceleration. The higher gearing means higher RPMs, which is good with our particular electric motor, which can run up to 10,000 RPMs. I’ve driven more than 250 different Bugeyes. This was the first one I have held at red line for my entire journey. It was smooth and effortless. And also a whole lot of fun.

My modern-day driver simulator, with a 100-mile range.

Electric Bugeye evolution

FrogE #2 is taking shape. This is an electric conversion for a customer in Maryland. Here’s the car with batteries mocked-up. We have changed the battery chemistry and design for this car (from our first prototype), which should help make our forthcoming Sprite electric kits easier for customers to build themselves.

Below, you can see the cells laid out in the engine bay for 100 mile range and optimal weight balance. An additional tray of batteries will be mounted under the trunk floor in the place of the fuel tank. In this way, we replicate the near 50/50 weight distribution that makes a Bugeye such a delight to drive.

Below you can see how we receive the batteries from the manufacturer. All 50 cells power each Sprite conversion. We’ll share more photos as this build progresses!

Electric Sprite conversion update

Doesn’t look like much yet, but the front end is completely upgraded. Electrons coming soon!

Work is progressing nicely on FrogE number 2. This is the car received from a customer in Maryland, who was tired of looking at the inoperative car buried in his garage. Soon it will be a reliable electric-powered rocket, instead of the garage equivalent of home exercise equipment turned clothes hanger.

The car is now stripped of it’s worn 948 power plant and broken transmission, and ready to be loaded with enough lithium and phosphate to deliver 100 miles of Bugeye fun per charge.
Our second FrogE electric, ready for some juice.

We’ve gutted the interior and will dress it up without going too far. This particular car is pure driver, with older paint and a weathered dashboard. Our goal with this build is to make it nicer and more comfortable but not fully cosmetically restored.

The primary focus is the powertrain conversion. This car only had a driver seat for many years-the passenger seat was missing. We have recovered that seat with the original navy blue material with iris blue piping (just like the original), and built a passenger seat to match. Our navy blue carpet will serve as an attractive foundation. We’re confident people will now want to ride along!

Our approach to building these conversions is to keep as much of the original appearance as possible. Rather than throw away the interior and put in whatever new aftermarket bits we can find, we want these cars to look and feel exactly like an original Bugeye, even though the powertrain is radically different. So we will keep the dashboard shown, albeit with new electronic gauges we’ve made that mimic the original look.

The suspension and brakes have been upgraded with the same sway bar, new king pins and performance shocks we use in any fast gas powered Bugeye, and next the batteries and motor will be massaged into place. Each conversion we build gets us closer to electric kit availability, so that home restorers will also be able to add electric power to their Sprites.

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