View Full Version : Restore options (kinda long)

Kevin Genoff
04-19-2004, 01:01 PM
I've been going back and forth about my '68 Sprite for about 8 months now - do I keep it or not? To give you a little background:

The car is freshly painted (cheap job), done by me. The front fenders were in pretty rough shape - I started to remove the bondo, then realized how much was there and left it. The doors don't line up, and the driver and passenger floor were cheaply repaired with sheetmetal (previous owner's doing). It will need new door skins, new fenders, probably a hood (might be salvageable), new 1/4 panels, and the lower section of the rea panel.

I was all set on selling it until I saw this car: https://home.pacbell.net/davriker/Midget%20Web/Midget.htm Now I am all inspired again, I'd like to have something smooth looking like that.

My plan now would be drive the car for a few years. In 3-4 years I would plan on doing a complete restoration - getting new/used body panels, I want to learn to weld and put actual patch panels in the floor. I'd like to rebuild the engine and suspension.

The questions I have are:

1) Are new panels the only way to go? Is there a good source for excellent condition used panels?

2) Engine performance - if I were to build up the 1275, what kind of performance could I expect? What's the typical cost for something like this? I believe there's a supercharger kit for these cars, do they handle boost well? Could I get creative and put a little turbo on it?

3)Suspension/Brakes - I'd like to stiffen up the suspension, make it handle well. What's the cost to completely go through the suspension? Are there any superior brake systems? If I make it go faster, I'd like to make sure it stops well too.

I know these are very gross generalizations, but I'd just like to get an idea if I should keep the car or not. I am 23, I am getting married in two years. My fiancee has a 1974 BMW 2002 that was left to her when her dad passed on, and I'd like to have something fun and relatively inexpensive to play with as well. I am a muscle car fan, but they are very expensive to build and even to operate. I now have some LBC blood running though me, and I am liking my little covertible more than I ever thought I would. With gas prices shooting up and all, my LBC might be just what I am looking for.

04-19-2004, 07:45 PM
Some ovservations that may help you decide:

99% of the time it is ultimately cheaper to purchase a car some one else has restored and needs to sell.

Restorations often take a decade, especially if children and "life" get in the way. Jay Leno just completed a car he had sitting around for 16 years.

Body panels: If you are a dillegent shopper and invest the time, good used ones can be found, but you must substitute work instead of cash. It's work to find the good used stuff.

Engine performance: A 0-60 of 10 seconds is quite obtainable. Engine life is about 1/2 of a modern engine. If you're serious about driving this car consider a 5 speed conversion kit. Refreshed engine; $1200.00, Rebuilt engine; $2400, Tuned engine $4000. Prices may vary, see above about shopping for deals.

Suspension: these cars are famous for their handling, It's the reason I fell in love with them early in life and am still playing with them. Preformance can be improved using the same techniques as any other "tuner" car. The parts are out there.

All said and done a modern tweaked Honda will out last, out brake and out run a tweaked Midget, but which one is cooler? You decide.

I know if I want an ear to ear smile all I have to do is go for a spin in my LBC, not my "daily driver".

04-19-2004, 07:53 PM
Patch panels are the easy way to go but you may want to try your skills and making your own panels out od sheet metal.
I have made my own floors, lower 1/4 panel patches, rocker and fender patches.
hinge post panels and some other patches are cheap enough to just buy.
Good doors and fenders can be found at swap meets for reasonable money.

Build a 1275 is fun, easy, and cheap, all the performance goodies for Minis also fit the Sprite.
Watch going too crazy with overboring and radical cams because you can go past the point of steetable reliability. My son did this with his Mini. Oh yeah it went fast 3 days a week and we had the engine out 4 days EACH week.

I know several guys who put on superchargers, most of them took them off or unhook them and keep them bolted on for show purposes only.
I never had one myself so I can not say for sure but those who tried sold the superchargers.

Suspension tuning can also go overboard, do one improvment at a time, drive around and do another.
Rock solid suspension makes an already great handling car get jumpy.

Big brakes add weight, weight needs bigger brakes.
Spridgets with properly working brakes stop just fine. But if you have money burning a hole in your pocket and the car looks perfect, runs better than you expected, is as fast as a rocket, and handles like a dream, go for the big brake conversion.

However you go about it, keep in mind what you want the final outcome to be. Fast on the street is a lot different than race track prepared.
Stock is nice, as is tastefully modified, and race cars also have their place.

I have restored and built alot of Sprites, I have owned 53 of them. I also over restored one a while back, yes, I went overboard with the best of the best and I hated to drive the car. I would walk past the perfect paint, fast engine, rock hard suspension car to hop in the aging daily driver because it was more fun to drive.

04-20-2004, 09:27 AM

I would rather have a good runner instead of high maintenance, highly modified, super hard riding machine. It is easy to get caught up in all the mods.

Kevin Genoff
04-20-2004, 02:16 PM
thanks for the replies guys. I'll probably end up hanging onto it and doing a real restore in the future. images/icons/grin.gif

Matthew E. Herd
04-20-2004, 09:35 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr> There is a feeling of satisfaction from saying "I built that," that "I bought that" cannot match. <hr></blockquote>

Well said! I couldn't agree more.

04-21-2004, 03:08 AM
Kudos to the decision to keep it. To be sure, it will cost more to see a restoration through yourself as virtually no one ever recoups everything they spend on a restoration on a Spridget or B or Spitfire, etc.

However, in my ever humble opinion, that cost analysis view misses the point most of the time. If we wanted to just hop in and drive, we'd all be in Miatas and S2000s. Some of us like to take a relic, plan a restoration and carry it through, step by painstaking and arduous step, almost regardless of the time or expense.

There is a feeling of satisfaction from saying "I built that," that "I bought that" cannot match. There is nothing wrong with buying a finished car, but just having the car at the end of the process is often not the real goal, not for me at least.

[ 04-20-2004: Message edited by: lawguy ]</p>

04-21-2004, 03:27 AM
I've been 2 years on my sprite and I'm approx. 95% done w/just metal work. I've learned to weld and the satisfaction of doing it myself is worth all the time and expense. I agree it's better to buy a car w/all or most work completed, but as Dad said- it keeps me out of the pool halls. Count on triple the time (or more) you thought it would take and don't be afraid to walk away from it from time to time, it is supposed to be fun.

Kevin Genoff
04-21-2004, 08:47 PM
I like working on projects images/icons/smile.gif I am kinda itching for one now, but I don't have the time.

I definitely agree on the "I did it myself" factor. I did everything on this "cheap" restore I just finished - even painting it. Paint honestly looks mediocre at best, but I am still proud that I did it, and I learned a ton. I am sure I could do a decent job now.

04-23-2004, 06:40 AM
Potential bargain???

Rear Clip (https://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=7900360183&category=34204)