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Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite

Discussion in 'British' started by jonesdds, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. jonesdds

    jonesdds Formula 3

    Aug 31, 2006
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    Jeff
    Really have wanted a AH but the headliner's have gotten very expensive and I'm looking for a car to work on and restore myself. The Bugeye sprite seems to be the AH to do that with, not completely restore, but to the take apart and put together phase with engine rebuilding/upholstery and repaint help. Reading the recent article in Hemmings Sports Car Magazine, a local guys restoration of this car really is inspiring and my 17 y.o, helping me would certainly be a kit if fun and great bonding for the two of us. I'm also considering a MGA/TR6 as well or maybe also an Alfa GTV/spider etc.

    Curious about the British cars and restoration comments for my son and I. Looking primarily for a Bugeye that is solid requiring very minimal body/floor work(rust) that is a good restoration candidate. Any comments appreciated.

    Jeff
     
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  3. nathandarby67

    nathandarby67 F1 Veteran
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    #2 nathandarby67, Mar 27, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2010
    You can not do better than a bugeye for a first restoration. It is probably the easiest car to restore there is. They are just dead-simple, parts are cheap, advice and literature is plentiful, and most importantly they are really fun, cool cars! They are unibody cars as opposed to the TR's being body-on-frame, so it is somewhat more important to find one with as little rust as possible. Just keep in mind they will ALL have some rust. The TR6 are also very easy bolt-together cars. Like a big go-kart frame with a body on top. Compared to a bugeye, there are just a lot more individual parts and it is more complex than a bugeye, so you are going to take longer to restore it and will spend more. I would not suggest an MGA as a first restoration. They are a little more complex and tedious, parts are a little harder to find, and they have the wood frames that WILL be rotten on any restoration candidate and require special skills to repair properly.
     
  4. martx-5

    martx-5 Rookie

    Dec 15, 2006
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    Art Liefke
    I recently just finished a frame off resto on a TR3. I did all of the work myself, including the paint job. Most of the popular older British sports cars can be a good candidate for a restoration. The biggest problem is always rust. Unless the car has had a full restoration, chances of finding one without some serious rust issues might be difficult. You might find one that doesn't have too many rust issues, but you will still have to deal with them if you're looking to get started for a reasonable cost. If you go looking at TR6's or TR4A's with IRS, look very carefully at the frames. The frames rust very badly in the rear where the trailing arms bolt up and the where the diff hangs from. Very difficult to repair. The best alternative in that situation is a new frame. Yes, new frames for those are are available because this problem is so prevalent. The solid axle TR's (TR3s & TR4s) didn't suffer from this problem.

    Parts for all of these LBCs (Little British Cars pre about 1980) are readily available. If it's an MG, Triumph, Healey or Jag, you will not have trouble finding parts. The amount of parts that are NOT available new for my TR3 I could count on my fingers...and they only made about 80,000 cars. Parts cost for the big Healeys and Jags run a bit more then the rest, but some of the stuff is common between all makes.

    BTW, MGAs DO NOT have wooden frames. They do have some wooden parts in them, most notably the floor boards. A trip to Home Depot will find you the plywood necessary for that repair. Morgans have an ash base for their body work. That's a bit more of a complex repair if it is warranted. The only British car that I'm aware of that actually has a wooden frame is the Marcos.

    I hang out on the British Car Forum and there are a great bunch of guys over there that can tell you what to look for in any potential purchase you have. Most of my expertise is with the TRs, but there are guys over there that live and breathe all the other LBCs. Here's the link...

    http://www.britishcarforum.com/
     
  5. nathandarby67

    nathandarby67 F1 Veteran
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    That's good to know. I think I got my MGA's mixed up with the T-series cars. I know the T-series had some wooden framing in the doors and around the cockpit area. I knew the MGA's had some wood in there somewhere, but didn't realize it was just floorboards. But floorboards wouldn't be a big deal to replace. Actually I think may be preferable to metal floorboards in an LBC, since those are guaranteed to rust!

    I also second britishcarforum.com as a GREAT place for info on these cars. I do more lurking over there than posting, but it is a wonderful resource and full of very friendly folks more than willing to lend a hand.
     
  6. 355dreamer

    355dreamer F1 World Champ
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    I am in the process of potentially buying a Bug Eye (Barn-find) that is the perfect candidate for a restoration. Very complete and no rust. I was planning on flipping it. If you are interested, please let me know and I can get some more information for you.

    There's also a '73 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible in the purchase if anyone wants that too. :)
     
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  8. jonesdds

    jonesdds Formula 3

    Aug 31, 2006
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    Also would consider the non-bugeye sprite. The Austin Healey's and the Bugeye seem to get the most press but the "other" sprite is a good looking car imo. Not really sure what the difference is with this car. Can someone enlighten me?

    Jeff
     
  9. martx-5

    martx-5 Rookie

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    #7 martx-5, Apr 4, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2010
    The Mark II Sprite started in '61 which is when the body changed, but the drive train was essentially the same underneath. When the Mark III came along, it also became the MG Midget, with the only differences between the two was trim. The common term for these cars is "Spridgets". Here's some more info from Wikipedia...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin-Healey_Sprite
     
  10. Smiles

    Smiles Moderator
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    Nov 20, 2003
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    I was looking at a bugeye being restored by a local AH enthusiast. I was impressed by the many captive nuts in the design of the car that would make a restoration much easier.

    You should also try to drive a Sprite, whichever vintage. They're really quite slow.
     
  11. martx-5

    martx-5 Rookie

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    You wouldn't be so impressed if they're all rusted as they generally are. The nut then spins in the cage and the only alternative is to cut the bolt off. Then you have to weld in new caged nut assemblies. Ask me how I know about this...I replaced over fifty of them in my TR3 during it's restoration.

    They do make assembly much easier though. Just remember to install the new bolts with never-seize.
     
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  13. vteqe

    vteqe Formula Junior

    Mar 5, 2005
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    This used car dealer has several Sprits at what looks like resonable pricing. Most cars need something. http://www.meritcars.com/
     
  14. Arvin Grajau

    Arvin Grajau Five Time F1 World Champ

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  15. nathandarby67

    nathandarby67 F1 Veteran
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    Beautiful! I love bugeyes.....neat seeing one in RHD. There's just something about those twin SU's on that green engine that oozes "English-ness".
     
  16. Jedi

    Jedi Two Time F1 World Champ
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    WOW... I mean, just WOW. Is that your car BJ? It's just STUNNING... heck - I'd learn
    to drive on the wrong side of the car for a specimen like this....

    Thanks for posting the pix... Bugeye has always been a fave of mine...

    Jedi
     
  17. Arvin Grajau

    Arvin Grajau Five Time F1 World Champ

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    #14 Arvin Grajau, Apr 8, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    brother inlaws,he has about 7 of them ranging from a historic race car,rally car,that car and various hot ones.
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  18. Arvin Grajau

    Arvin Grajau Five Time F1 World Champ

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    #15 Arvin Grajau, Apr 8, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
  19. Jedi

    Jedi Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Bravo to all... I wish I had a brother in law with a garage full of "smiles" like that...

    :D

    Thanks so much for posting, BJ.


    Jedi
     
  20. Arvin Grajau

    Arvin Grajau Five Time F1 World Champ

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    he has a faboulous silver sprite he races in Historic racing,at Bathurst a few years ago only about 6 big engine healey cars could stay in front of it.
     
  21. martx-5

    martx-5 Rookie

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  22. Arvin Grajau

    Arvin Grajau Five Time F1 World Champ

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    You drive a hot one and its like a little go kart.often thought one a twin cam in it would be fun.
     
  23. ParaPantera

    ParaPantera Rookie

    Aug 23, 2004
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    What is everyones opinion of the 67' Sprite Mark IV? I understand that they tend to be under powered, so what are acceptable performance upgrades?
     
  24. martx-5

    martx-5 Rookie

    Dec 15, 2006
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    They are fun little cars, but as you say, they won't be plastering you back into the seat. But, they are light and nimble. The Mark IV's had about 65 hp stock. Since I'm not that familiar with the BMC engines and their upgrades, I refer you tho the British Car Forum....

    http://www.britishcarforum.com/

    Great group of guys over there, and some of them are racing Sprites, so there is a wealth of knowledge there.
     
  25. MITYRARE

    MITYRARE F1 Rookie

    May 21, 2008
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    Another difference is that an MG Midget will cost half the cost of the late AH sprite and a third of the cost of a "bug eye sprite".


    Beev
     
  26. MITYRARE

    MITYRARE F1 Rookie

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    Your pics are LBC porn for sure...gorgeous.


    Beev
     
  27. nathandarby67

    nathandarby67 F1 Veteran
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    #24 nathandarby67, Apr 21, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    There are companies that make twin-cam conversions for the A-series engines. I believe they actually use a BMW motorcycle head! Most of them seem to wind up in Minis, but the Sprite/Midget and many other small British cars all shared the A-series engine.

    The A-series has a TON of aftermarket hop-ups available.
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  28. Arvin Grajau

    Arvin Grajau Five Time F1 World Champ

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    darling little motor.
     

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