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Custom long wheel base Bugeye Sprite goes to a great new home

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Here’s the man who started our LWB project and you can see his new Bugeye fits him like a custom tailored suit!

Some months ago, we sold a Bugeye to a great guy in Louisiana who had one as a kid, and now wanted a nice restored car. Problem was when he got the car it didn’t quite fit like he remembered, and his adult 6’4 1/2″ frame was not quite as nimble as it was during his teenage years. So he asked us if it might be possible to lengthen the cockpit, and we cut this car in half, added 5″ to the floor pans, doors and rockers, and made a one of a kind long door LWB Bugeye. You can see pictures of the project unfolding on the LWB tab under categories on the right margin of our homepage.

Bugeyes fit a surprising range of body types, and we had 6’2″ Rick drive his car (Abby) across country people quite nicely. But Dave was pushing the height envelope, and to get him into his Bugeye, we set out to build a one-of-a-kind special car.

This past week, he flew in to our nearby New Haven airport in a Cessna Citation Mustang (which ironically is s SHORTENED Cessna citation). Anyway, below you can see the video of Dave getting in the LWB Bugeye for the very first time!

Dave lit up a cigar, and off we went, and it was quite special to watch the look on his face as he bombed around our neighborhood in his custom car.

There were no issues building this project, hardest perhaps was the lengthening of the door top cockpit trim. We cut some damaged trim pieces in half to make extensions, welded the pieces together and then sanded and buffed them to a high sheen so the extension was not visible. It was also challenging to lengthen the doors and make them smooth with no sign of welding seams, but with lots of sanding and patience, there is no evidence that these doors were ever extended.

Other than that, most of the project was pretty straightforward. We finished out the car just like any other stock Bugeye, so the car looks stock in just about every way.

Once you see the longer door version, all the stock cars look like they have stubby doors, but regardless, I don’t anticipate that we will customize too many more bodies like this, unless of course the demand is there, in which case we will be happy to make a Bugeye that fits your particular body type. It was an exciting project for us, and we are particularly excited about this result!

Bugeyeguy Long Wheel Base Bugeye Nears Completion

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Our LWB Bugeye is almost done, and we are busily replacing all the various bits that have come off with new or polished replacement components. The final product is wonderful, in correct old English white and deep red.

I’ve driven the car quite a bit now, and it impresses me more and more each time, mainly because it drives and feels just like a Bugeye. There are no new characteristics I can identify that have surfaced, and no bad habits or features. So I have a new reinforcement for my passion for these cars, now that we have discovered that we can modify the dimensions, at least by 5 inches longer, without any adverse effects.

So much of the Bugeye market is driven by modifications. These generally stay within “the norm” and are limited to bigger A series engines and different transmissions, differentials and the like. But here we have a Bugeye that is actually longer, and still feeling very much a Bugeye, and thus our repertoire has expanded, our offerings will now change, and the possibilities expand.

Some have said we should do a 2 plus 2 Bugeye next, but this feels like it is outside the lines. It would seem a Bugeye should always be a small roadster, and our goal in this case was to make access better for two, not to try to change it to a four passenger vehicle.

Also very interesting to me is the issue of visual balance. Some have seen this car and immediately commented that it looks better with a longer door, that the form is now more in balance. If you look at this car next to ABBY, the red Bugeye in front of our shop, you might notice that Abby’s door does indeed look “short.”

This is an ongoing conversation, with no right answer. Unless of course you have had for example a hip replacement and it’s hard now to get into small cars, or you are taller than 6’3″… then the door aesthetic is irrelevant, and the long door Bugeye opens up a new world of possibility for you. And that was our intent with this car as with everything we do… to open the world of Bugeye fun to as many people as possible.

LWB Bugeye Sprite update: Painted!

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Our LWB Bugeye project is coming along nicely, with paint complete in lovely Olde English White, per the original. Next we build the interior, and replace all the trim, restoring each piece as we proceed.

I drove the car back from the paint shop on a wonderful winding road and it drives great, almost identical to a conventional Bugeye but just a tad more stable. If you are unfamilar, we added five inches in the middle of this car, for extra large drivers, or for people who have dexterity, mobility or stiffness challenges. The result is a custom Bugeye, five inches longer than stock.

You’ll notice in the last photo that in this car with the seat in the right place for my 5’8″ frame I have about five inches between the lower seatback and the rear bulkhead. This is the greatest benefit of our LWB design… the seat can now go a full five inches further aft than on conventional Bugeyes, thereby accommodating a larger range of body types. I have seen custom Bugeyes with the rear deck cut out to make the cockpit longer, but in this case the seat can still only go as far aft as the rear bulkhead allows. In the case of our LWB car, we have lengthened the middle of the car, so the visual look and feel of the back of the car did not change, and the seat can go further aft to give the occupants five inches more legroom.

Fly first class in this Bugeye!

LWB Bugeye Sprite Update #6-First Drive!

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We have successfully tested our LWB Bugeye and it drives wonderfully! The bodywork is complete, the primer has been laid on and now it is ready for final wet sanding and paint!

If you are new to our site, this is a prototype Bugeye with a cockpit and wheelbase five inches longer, designed specifically for very tall drivers, and for people with joint issues who want to enjoy Bugeyes again in their retirement and want easy access with a bit roomier door opening.

This week we installed the lengthened drive shaft, ran a new longer brake line to the rear brakes, put in a custom exhaust, put in a new fuel tank and longer fuel line, and fired up the 1275 engine for a drive. It was incredibly exciting to drive a one-of-a-kind Bugeye for the first time, and you can watch the first drive in the video below.

The car drives like a stock Bugeye with a little MGB thrown in. Because the wheel base is 5 inches longer, the car feels a bit more stable and damped, like any longer wheel base car. But the nimble Bugeye spirit is completely intact.

For reference, the stock Bugeye has a 6’8″ wheelbase and the Bigeye LWB model is at 7’1″. MGBs have a 7’7″ wheelbase. Classic Minis are 6’8 and Spitfires are 6’9″.

We look forward to further testing and combined driving, but the first test was extremely successful, and now we will paint the car and begin the custom trim work, to make this car look just like a stock Bugeye, with a little extra!

Long wheel base custom Bugeye Sprite build update

Our long wheelbase project is taking shape nicely. The door extensions are now welded and soon we’ll be ready to paint the car. Once the color is uniform, it will be easier for all viewers to decide if it looks better or worse than a stock Bugeye! (I personally like the look a lot!)

We have lengthened the drive shaft and we are working on lengthening all the plumbing so we can hook it all back up and take a test drive. We’ll have more videos when we make our initial drives.

This is a car that many people would have scrapped. It had a lot of rust in the rear bulkhead, floors, trunk and rear fender arches. It was an EBAY purchase that looked worse and worse the more we dug into it, with multiple rust issues that were not disclosed in the listing. The car required an extensive amount of rust repair and welding to make it strong once again. We gave this car a new life, while most would have found another candidate for their restoration, and let this one go.

The idea to make the cockpit longer was originally inspired by a 6’5″ former Bugeye owner who said he remembered these cars being roomier back in the 60s. We were also motivated to build this car for customers for whom the gap between the front of the seat cushion and the lower door hinge is a bit of a problem when getting in and out, given their physical limitations. I’ve met a lot of these customers at our shop, and they are among the most passionate of Bugeye fans, who grew up when these cars were in their heyday.

So our goal with this project is not just to save another Bugeye, but also to make Bugeye driving an option again for some of the original Bugeyeguys who were there in the beginning, and who actually bought these cars from the BMC dealers in 1958-1961. Without these people, (who actually liberated the Bugeyes from the dealerships), there would be no Bugeyes for any of us to enjoy today.

Our hope is that at least one of these pioneers who was there when it all began will get a second chance to enjoy Bugeye driving once again.

LWB Bugeye-build, update #2

Our extra long Bugeye is progressing nicely!

This week Bob’s been welding away to rebuild the spine of this car with sufficient strength and integrity to support an extra 5 inches of length. Again our goal is to build a completely stock looking Bugeye in every way except for a 5 inch section welded right in the center of the car to make the cockpit roomier.

The car is now sold– one of our customers fit fine in his Bugeye back in high school but right about now he’d like a little bit roomier cockpit in his Sprite. He was 6’5″ back then too!