When making a 500 mile roundtrip at a good clip in a five-speed Bugeye Sprite, a chopped windshield is not recommended. It looks really cool, and attracts a lot of attention. But on the interstate highway, the short windshield makes for a windy and noisy trip. It’s better suited for around-town use. I had four hours each way to ponder this reality, on my recent highway trip to Stowe, Vermont to the British Invasion car show.
Next my thick ear flaps hat… effective, but also hot. I supplemented this hat with my Bugeye hoodie. And Bose noise canceling ear buds. This set-up kept the noise under control. And allowed me to enjoy the ride in this very highway-capable Bugeye, built with a 5-speed transmission and 3.9 rear end.
Each year, a long highway trip in a classic car seems to become more and more of an anomaly. 97% of the cars I passed on this recent trip had closed windows and sealed-up occupants. Window tinting only seems to keep the people further apart. I like the highway better when we all have a chance for connection with all the other travelers. My highway would have mandatory elbows hanging out of pickup trucks, and vacation-bound station wagons with mom and dad up front, and a pile of kids waving from the way back, giggling after throwing a kiss. Cars on highways today feel more like mobile Darth Vaders, Every smiling Bugeye on the road helps feed the resistance.
This green Bugeye “Gumby” has been with me since 1979. When I got the car it was just 20 years old. Now, as Bugeyes approach their 60th birthday, the contrast is more dramatic. The car is more unfamiliar, yet it still retains universal appeal. But what seems so different today is the consciousness (or lack thereof) of drivers out on the open road. A Bugeye trip activates all of one’s senses. Modern cars seem to mute them. And who can blame us– there is something quite pleasant about the climate-controlled quiet envelope with great entertainment and computer-managed cruise control in a vehicle that you are pretty certain can make it to your destination… and back again!
There were about 500 British cars at the British Invasion and how nice to be with this family, all people who get it, and who understand the difference between motoring in a classic car, and sealing oneself in a tomb.
Perhaps this is how it looks as a culture streams toward life with autonomous cars. Comfort and convenience take control. The personality of our vehicles and the experience of driving come second. I hope that our growing fleet well-working Bugeyes can help change this, at least for those people looking for this sort of adventure. This is one reason I made this 500 mile pilgrimage… to demonstrate that one can travel in these old cars, and travel well.
Only one thing broke on this 500 mile test drive-the fuse that feeds the headlight relay blew, which made things pretty dark on Saturday night. I pulled into a motel parking lot on the Stowe mountain road and started to climb around under the dash to diagnose the problem and realized that with 6 miles to go to my B & B and its superb new cedar garage (pictured above), my LED bicycle headlight would do the job just fine, so I held this powerful flashlight on top of the windscreen and made the short drive home (it’s probably brighter than the working two headlights). We’ll find and fix the short when we have more time here at the shop.
By the way, we won first place.