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Thread: Tasteful Upgrades for a Bugeye

Discuss the Austin Healey Sprite and the MG Midget. Two different but similar cars sometimes referred to collectively as the Spridget.

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    Jedi Knight
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    Tasteful Upgrades for a Bugeye

    We own two BEs, one of which was our only car for a couple of years in the 70s and has been on and off the road ever since; the other served as a parts source and will hopefully be on the road this summer, for the first time since purchase in 1972
    Ideally, I would like them both to be reliable, fun, safe, vehicles. To which end, I've tried to pull together a list of updates/modifications that would stay true to the original design yet them meet the reliable/fun criteria. And not require any body or other semi-irreversible modifications.
    Here's my thoughts, and I would appreciate comments from others as I certainly haven't tried them all nor captured all the possible improvements. Down the road, I would like to pull together a 'final' list of Tasteful Upgrades, along with potential suppliers.
    So, with a certain amount of fear and trepidation:


    Wheels/Tyres/Overall Suspension:
    - slightly larger tyres on original rims
    - aftermarket wider alloy rims
    - convert to wire wheels
    - get lever arms rebuilt by (?? Can't remember name)
    - replace lever arms with tubular shocks
    Rear Member
    - later axles made of EN17, starting about 1967, or aftermarket axles
    - if upgrade engine, go to later 3.9 differential ratio; and update speedo connection
    - if go to front discs, upgrade rear drums to match
    - replace rear drums with Creative Spridgets disc brake conversion adaptors
    - add a panhard rod (or equivalent)
    - add sway bar (?)
    - Subaru 2077F bearings for rear axle wheel bearings
    Lighting
    - change to LEDs (ESSENTIAL UPGRADE!) for the tail/brake lights
    - change signal lights to LEDs (if you're concerned and feeling wealthy)
    - change instrumentation to LEDs
    - replace rear shock links with heim jointed pieces
    Seats:
    - raise front edge of stock seats
    - Norman Nock recommends taking a hole saw and cutting holes in new seat foam for comfort
    Safety:
    - add a roll bar (for getting t-boned, not rolling; we're planning on doing this)
    - add head rests to the roll bar
    - lap belts followed by three point belts followed by four point belts (tied to your new roll bar)
    - outside mirrors that mount in one of the windshield attachment bolt holes
    Front End:
    - sway bar
    - front discs from later Spridgets (get rear drums as well)
    - Timken roller bearings
    Engine:
    - 1275 cc engine
    - money no object? KAD or BMW DOHC cylinder head; EFI; turbo/super charger
    - Gerard's rear main seal
    - spin-on oil filter kit (for convenience)
    - electronic ignition (for convenience; Pertronix ignitor fails if you leave ignition switched on for more than 45 seconds without engine running)
    - add an in-line fuel filter
    - engine oil cooler, depending on where you live
    - harmonic balancer
    - when rebuilding, balance engine
    - use ARP bolts everywhere you can afford
    - add main bearing caps
    - add hardened valve inserts
    - add windage tray
    - upgrade oil pump
    - whatever you want to/can afford to spend
    1959 pristine 948 cc Bug-Eye; DCOE, 5 speed; bought 1971
    1960 BE bought 1971 & stored since; body tub restored and reassembling (1275; etc.)
    1962 AH 3000 BJ7; 3rd owner (1982?); in shop Oct. 2015 for paint job - home soon!
    1962 VW Meyers Manx clone dune buggy; stripped last winter and being reassembled
    1969 Kawasaki 500 H1 Triple, orig. owner; stored since 1973, but runs again! 1999 Buell S3

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    Yoda
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    Re: Tasteful Upgrades for a Bugeye

    My 0.02..... Replace the seats with the seats used by the newer models. The seats fitted to the Mk2 Midget and Mk3 Sprite. They are much more comfortable. Don't buy new foams but resurrect the originals. I used a scrap piece of foam from a 60's truck and an electric carving knife to cut pieces to fill in the bad spots on my original foams and glued the pieces in.
    Most of the rest of what you have listed is a personal preference thing. I wouldn't change to wires though they do look great since one never sees them anymore. Its expensive to do it right on a BE. Engine I wouldn't change to hardened valve seats except on the exhaust side unless the valves are in a pocket. I would do a bit of clean up porting.

    Kurt
    65,66 Midget
    57 Berkeley, MGA
    Working on quality rather than quantity

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    Jedi Knight
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    Re: Tasteful Upgrades for a Bugeye

    Shocks:
    - Peter at World Wide Autoparts https://www.nosimport.com/ for rebuilding Armstrong Lever Arm shocks
    - Udo Putzke's Bilstein tube shock conversion https://www.putzkes-fahrspass.com/Eng/kits.html He is a Bilstein engineer and we have his A-H 3000 kit on our BJ7 and it is very
    satisfactory.
    Seats:
    - review the Forum for options; Miata seats are spoken of highly
    Transmissions:
    - Gerard's garage has a kit for installing the 79-82 Datsun 210 five speed https://www.gerardsgarage.com/
    - Rivergate has a kit for installing the 79-82 Datsun 210 five speed https://www.rivergate5speed.com/
    - there are kits available for other transmissions but my understanding is that they require modifications to the bodywork
    Master Cylinder Rebuild:
    - I'm sure that there are others but https://www.applehydraulicsonline.com/ does such work
    Engine seals:
    - various sources, including Gerards Garage
    Front Tillting Bonnet:
    - various sources, including Gerards Garage
    Electrical:
    - mount a cigarette lighter to the wooden piece behind the dash that holds the 'chicken' handle.
    Lubricants:
    - check the forums, but the original engines sans hardened seats need zinc. VR-1; Penrite; others
    - I use Red Line for engine and differential oils
    1959 pristine 948 cc Bug-Eye; DCOE, 5 speed; bought 1971
    1960 BE bought 1971 & stored since; body tub restored and reassembling (1275; etc.)
    1962 AH 3000 BJ7; 3rd owner (1982?); in shop Oct. 2015 for paint job - home soon!
    1962 VW Meyers Manx clone dune buggy; stripped last winter and being reassembled
    1969 Kawasaki 500 H1 Triple, orig. owner; stored since 1973, but runs again! 1999 Buell S3

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    Yoda Trevor Jessie's Avatar
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    Re: Tasteful Upgrades for a Bugeye

    I do not like the design of Udo's Bilstein front shock conversion, but I have ZERO experience with it.
    _____________________
    1970/2 MG Midget
    Datsun 5-speed
    Future Fuel Injection Turbo Project
    _________________
    1958/9 Sprite AN5L/1499
    1275 SuperCharged
    Datsun 5-speed
    _________________

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    Jedi Warrior SD Bugeye's Avatar
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    Re: Tasteful Upgrades for a Bugeye

    electronic ignition (for convenience; Pertronix ignitor fails if you leave ignition switched on for more than 45 seconds without engine running)

    Pertronix Ignitor has been around now for 30 years yes the first units where sensitive to just being powered not true any more mine is now 15 years old
    if your still question it’s reliability go with ignitorII

    Door handles,Bootlid,Glovebox all fads
    59 sprite

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    Obi Wan
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    Re: Tasteful Upgrades for a Bugeye

    LED lights are a good upgrade. It takes a "rock out of the rowboat" as their power draw is less than the incandescent, but you get more light. I'd recommend going through Joe Parlanti of Veloce Solutions. Joe is a good guy, and an LBC guy, too. The Sunbeam Tiger on his webpage is his. He's got a built up 302 in it, and it is scary fast. My '69 Sprite was the "guinea pig" for Spridget LED kits. One you go LED, you won't go back.

    https://www.velocesolutionsllc.com/

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    Jedi Knight
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    Re: Tasteful Upgrades for a Bugeye

    See a new thread " Pertronix Ignitor: reliability & suitability" for Pertronix's response to my query regards risk of failure when switched on & not running; how long is the safe period; and if Ignitor II is suitable for positive ground (Briefly: Yes, there's a risk; guesstimate is 5 minutes safe; Ignitor II not available for positive ground). Doug

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    Jedi Warrior SD Bugeye's Avatar
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    Re: Tasteful Upgrades for a Bugeye

    I see
    I’m not running positive ground and or a generator or a mech tach oil press water temp a fuel and voltage are Dakota Digital gauge
    on the gen light from the alternator I have a tiny buzzer that buzzes when the alternator is not charging.. ignition on..engine not running.easy cheap warning .
    Door handles,Bootlid,Glovebox all fads
    59 sprite

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    Jedi Knight
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    Re: Tasteful Upgrades for a Bugeye

    Brakes: get someone skilled to convert the front discs to the Spitfire rotor/MGB caliper system. Better yet, buy the engineered upgrade from https://www.olphartz.com/applications3.html - see https://www.britishcarforum.com/bcf/...t=christiansen for a bit of discussion. Doug

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