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Thread: bugeye pitfalls

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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    bugeye pitfalls

    Hi. I'm new to the forum but not new to British cars. I am looking at a 1960 AH bugeye this week but wanted to get a list of things I should look at that would be show stoppers to the purchase. I have owned Midgets in the past so I'm familiar with some of the rust issues etc. What are the "walk away" items that I should look for in a bugeye? The owner said the car is drivable, some rust but fairly solid, has a 1275 MG engine but needs TLC. Dan

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    Moderator drooartz's Avatar
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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    Rust, as you know, is the big killer here. I'm just finishing up a full refurbishment of my Bugeye -- including a complete mechanical rebuild. All that was doable, even though I've never done this sort of work before.

    Rust issues will be A-pillars, sills, rear spring hangers (where the 1/4 springs in the back bolt to the rear bulkhead). It's all repairable, but bodywork gets quickly above the value of the car.

    The more complete the car, the better. Everything is findable, but the more you have to start the better.

    1275 from a MG Midget is no problem either -- that's what I wound up putting into my car. It's just a drop in to the car, and offers more power.
    Drew Frink
    '59 RHD Frogeye Sprite - "Penny" sleeping for now
    '66 RHD Morris Minor - "Maggie" awaiting a non-cracked transmission
    '70 RHD MGB - awaiting a donor engine
    '19 Triumph Bonneville T100 - good to have one that runs

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    Jedi Knight GeeBee1's Avatar
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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    Drew:

    Well Said.

    Pat
    Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

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    Great Pumpkin JPSmit's Avatar
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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    I don't have a BE, but, I get the idea that the better the bonnet the happier you will be. They are harder and costlier to replace.
    John-Peter Smit
    1976 MG Midget
    1969 Vauxhall Viva GT
    1958 Fiat Multipla (Barn art)

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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    All used Bugeyes are work. I look at all the Bugeyes I can see for sell.They all seem to have the same rust problems. The current owners will say a little rust repair and a paint job and it will be a nice car...HA.

    If they are in good shape the price is 5k to 15k. So what is left is restorable tubs that are referred to as "I was going to restore but never found the time for the project" so I decided to sell it after I took everthing off.

    What I am trying to say, if it has a little rust am sure it has a lot of rust you don't see. Seems the norm for these cars. So buy the car, buy a Mig welder and tear it down. If you don't want to spend the money or time on one. Then buy one that has been restored recently with records. Its a lot cheaper that way in the long run.

    You have two choices with purchasing a used Bugeye. 1) a project to put in your shop and piddle with for months, years, 2) drive it the way it is until it begins to sag at the doors then sell or rebuild.
    1958 Austin Healey Sprite

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    Obi Wan
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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    First of all, welcome to the forum. I have received a wealth of information and help here. As far as advice, I agree with Drew. Buy the best you can afford. Missing parts can add up in a hurry, so do a inventory of what is missing or not working. Sheet metal adds mega hours and bucks to your restoration too. You need to especially watch door gaps. These cars tend to close from the bottom on the doors. Serious dollars to correct at that point. I had found there is no such thing as "surface rust" either. I was a rookie when I started my complete restoration, but I found that whatever I found in the way of rust initially ended up far worse by a factor of ten.
    Kevin

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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    Thanks for the responses. I am looking for a project for winters to pass the time until autocross season and my BMW comes back out to play. Can I assume that the areas that are rust prone on midgets are the same on AH? the mechanical stuff doesn't bother me too much its the rust.

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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    On a Bugeye the rear bulkhead where suspension attaches seems to be challenging to repair. Lots of hidden panels to be taken apart carefully and reassembled with even more care to keep everything aligned. And then you can do like Ray in TN and simply cut the car in half to get easier access and then weld it all back together. Rust always a challenge and it will continue to rust so stop what you can and enjoy the moment driving a BE.
    Jim Gruber - Apollo Beach, FL
    Bugsy I - '68 Sprite w BE Bonnet - Gone but not forgotten
    Bugsy IV - '60 Bugeye - 1,275+.040 and a 5-Speed - CA Car - 2nd Owner from new - 10/12 Painting done, reassembly, cutting, and buffing in progress.

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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    Howdy Dan,

    I had a `59 Bugeye (I still like the desc. "FROGEYE" much better)until last Dec. I really enjoyed the car as I literally had no body work to do. The common problems have been mentioned; "BONNET"-Very, Very Expensive to replace. "1/4 LEAF SPRING MTG. AREA" - Very prone to rust & supports the whole rear end. "FLOORS" - Uni-Body says it all there!!

    Its the same old story: "YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR"!!

    Best Wishes,

    Russ

    PS: There was one thing I really did`nt like about the "Frogeye". Lifting that dog gone, really heavy Bonnet!! If I still had her; I would consider a "Front Tilt" modification.
    member BCF; VTR; FBCC; BCCLV; DVT; JCNA; DVJC:
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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    Brought My Frogeye on fleebay, unseen. I saw it 27 seconds before it ran out. Photos looked good & had 9 months left on it's MOT (annual inspection). Got it for 2400 (UK pounds).
    Drove it home & inspected it......
    Thick white underseal covering everything underneath.
    I was prepared for a little work, got lots. The underseal was covering multiple patches, some rivited in place & filled around the edges. others with blobs of weld around them. Some with patches upon patches. There were both ends of sill closing plates.
    So if it's covered in thick sealant under the wheels there's probably somthing to hide under there.

    My frogeye
    Now it's all done, it's realy excellent to drive.
    I've had it up to 100mph & it's rock solid. (1275cc & 3.7 diff).
    What are you doing here?
    Everyone's got to be somewhere.
    "Spike Milligan"

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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    I say buy one done, you'll come out cheaper in the end and get to enjoy the car right away. Anohter option is put a BE bonnet on a solid Midget and call it a day.

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    Jedi Knight
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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    1958 Austin Healey Sprite

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    Jedi Knight smaceng's Avatar
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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    I'm sure it will go higher, my guess sold for $7,499.
    what do you think?
    Scott in CA
    1973 TR6

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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    I am thinking $5600.00. color is off, a little pinkish and dull personality compared to other reds I have seen. It made be just the photos. Car dosen't pop out and say take me for a drive. But it appears to be a great driver.
    The color may be a result of reproduction or camera. In person it may look great.

    Bugeye has a really nice body on it tho. You are probably right and I wouldn't be surprised if it got your figure or more
    1958 Austin Healey Sprite

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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    Well, I took a look at the car that started the post. Prior to driving WAY out of town to inspect the car I discussed the condition with the owner, some rust but drivable and overall pretty solid, so he said. All I can say is it was indeed a 1960 bugeye. Not much left that was solid metal. Rear shock mount collapsed, rockers non-existent, no driveshaft, gas tank missing, and the list goes on.... Needless to say I am confident I won't be buying anything sight unseen. Guess I'll keep looking.

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    Jedi Knight GeeBee1's Avatar
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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    Sounds like a real driver

    Pat
    Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    Quote Originally Posted by mightymidget
    Gee only $4550.
    I think someone got a good deal, doesn't seem to need much more work.
    '80 MGB roadster - pageant blue with Overdrive
    '73 RWA car + rust free tub and parts - going to build an Arkley SS!
    '78 Midget - Datsun A15 with HIF4's Dogleg 5 Speed Bugeye Bonnet with Heated Miata Seats
    '80 Datsun 210 w/60 series 5 speed

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    Jedi Knight
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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    Yea I saw that too. Glad I don't have mine for sell.

    I really think the photos killed the car. People don't realize ebay buyers want to fall in love with the image. When ever I ebay a car I spend hours taken photos and writing up the description.
    1958 Austin Healey Sprite

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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    Quote Originally Posted by mightymidget
    Yea I saw that too. Glad I don't have mine for sell.

    I really think the photos killed the car. People don't realize ebay buyers want to fall in love with the image. When ever I ebay a car I spend hours taken photos and writing up the description.
    Took me 5-13 hour days to do the Super Bee auction.

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    Jedi Knight
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    Re: bugeye pitfalls

    Now Kelly that is over doing it
    1958 Austin Healey Sprite

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