Spritely Project: 1961 Austin Healey Bugeye

sprite1

This weathered but still cheerful Bugeye has been a long-term project for the seller, who has owned the car since 1980. They have realized that they won’t have time to finish it anytime soon, so it’s being passed on to the highest bidder here on eBay. The car is currently located in Salt Lake City, Utah with bidding opening at $4,200. My initial favorable thoughts on this car were further bolstered by reading the listing closely. The seller tells a good story, with a past engine and transmission rebuild along with rebuilt wire wheels (although I wouldn’t personally trust the “new” tires that have been mounted since the 1990’s). Thanks to Jim S for the tip!

Bugeye Sprite

The aftermarket center console is pretty neat; I’m pretty sure it’s an AMCO console, although I’ve never seen one fitted to a Bugeye, and the Marchal headlights add another cool touch. I would view those and the Weber side-draft as well as the change in hood hinge orientation as pluses, and if it were me, I’d never drive it with the top up, so I’d sell the hardtop on to someone that would appreciate it more. Yes, there’s some rust, but unless the rear spring mounts are toast I don’t see anything too troublesome. My first car at 12 was a later Sprite, so I’ll always have a soft spot for them; do you like this find enough to buy it and put it back on the road where it belongs?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. RayT Member

    My Frogeye had an accessory hardtop when I bought it. Not only was it miserable headroom-wise (when you’re 6’2″ you notice stuff like that) but the fiberglass quality was not so good. It went away the first day.

    If I had this one, I’d be tempted to go back to original, at least as it applies to bonnet hinging, center tunnel and carburetion. Unless the engine has had a major internal clean-up (cam, gas-flowing, perhaps bigger valves) the Weber won’t do much. And if it isn’t jetted properly, well, forget about it. SUs are simple, effective and easy to troubleshoot/adjust.

    The rust shouldn’t be too much of an issue, especially for an owner with some bodywork skills. These aren’t complex structures.

    Restore it, and good times await. And get a set of eared knockoff hubs!

  2. Dolphin Member

    Red, gold, light blue, dark blue paint, and ‘new’ snow tires.

    Someone please step up and save this little guy.

    Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Agreed! Are you volunteering? :-)

      • Dolphin Member

        Ahhh….no, Jamie. I had a ’58 Sprite many years ago as my first sportscar, and let’s just say I had a lot of fun with it but I need more car than a Sprite or Midget offers. I had the weather coming in between the windshield and the top of my Sprite just like happened to sunbeamdon below, but without the wedding part. Yes, more car is better than less car in many ways. But, I understand why—-these are British and sold for only $1800 brand new back then.

        Also, I’m restoring a car that got the chrome-delete treatment and some other poor mods that are keeping me busy, so I’ll just leave this one to the next guy. I don’t need another one of those projects, but I hope someone takes this Sprite on. These are really good as first sportscars.

  3. Chris A.

    I didn’t realize that wire wheels were an available option on Bugeye Sprites or are these from later MG Midgets? Anyone serious about buying this needs to be or take a Bugeye expert with them. Back in the early 60’s we had a family friend, 6’2″ 220+ lbs who moved to Rochester NY and drove his Bugeye from Wayne NJ to Rochester, no top, in November. He had a long torso and looked like he was driving a bath tub. And to think modified Bugeyes did well at Sebring back then.

    • RayT Member

      After the factory developed the “Sebring Sprite” modifications, a wire wheel/front disc brake kit was supposedly made available through dealers.

      I say “supposedly” only because I never actually saw such a kit or encountered one installed. Such Frogeyes as I saw with wire wheels got the from Mk II Sprites or MG Midgets.

  4. sunbeamdon

    Gee – this brings back some good old memories! My first move away from “hot-rods” was a 1958 Sprite. I bought it in mid ’61 for $800.00!. Pulled the motor and tranny – rebuilt the motor to Sebring Stage V spec on my mum’s kitchen table, rebuilt the tranny with ’61 close ratio gears.

    Finished the car on Friday October 6th at 3:30 pm, test drove it for all of 90 miles then parked it at the wedding reception hall for our next night’s get-away. At speeds over 70 mph the front of top would pop off its channel, secured only by the corner posts allowing all our wonderful Northwest fall weather to penetrate into the cockpit destroying my brides’ beehive hairdo! We just about made it to Crescent City, CA for the third night of our honeymoon when the generator fell off and shorted the wiring harness. As basic as the car was, I was able to wedge it back in, tape the burned wires and continued on. It rained about two inches overnight, stranding the car at the motel! My wife hated that car, but she forgave me after the sun started shining on our way back and the top came off (the car that is)!

    Traded car in 1962 but kept the wife! Three kids, 17 grand-kids and 7 great grand-kids later I’m still playin’ with cars – gotta’ fire up my Kirkham Cobra for it’s quarterly drive – State Farm allows me 2,500 mi. per year use!! Now here’s another car my wife won’t ride in! Bellowing exhaust, and hazing the tires on the freeway at 50 does that!

    • grant

      Sunbeamdon if you are around Portland, let us know when you take the Cobra out. Would love to see it.

  5. sunbeamdon

    Hi Grant: – from time-to-time, and at other times, I unleash the beast in North Seattle

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.