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Chagrinned Again

Editor_Reid

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Just need to vent a bit. Stick with me, this won't take long...

Chagrin, the feeling you get when you buy a fully restored Bugeye relying on the seller's reputation, his long club involvement, many photos including coverage of the car in numerous magazines, and this is the spare you pull out of the boot when the car is delivered:

IMG_5773.jpg


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The date code indicates the 4th week of a year ending in 8. I understand that tire date codes began in 1971, so this must be 1978, although it looks older than 44 years.

There. I got that off my chest. I feel better. Thank you. Still chagrined though.
 

Pythias

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Here's a tip... After you get that rim replaced/restored........

Go to you local tire shop and ask if the have a 13" space saver spare. Have them dismount the tire and put it on your Sprite rim. You can half the amount of space you spare takes up in the boot!

The tire shops will probably GIVE you the tire just so they don't have to pay to dispose of it.
 
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Editor_Reid

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Thanks Bill. I didn't even know they made 13" space-savers. I guess I figured 13" was already saving space.

I have some wheels in good shape, and I'll use one for a new spare. The wheel I posted doesn't look reasonably restorable.

I hadn't heard of the "Sprite Midget Club, USA." Is that a "live club" with activities and meetings, or an Internet club, like facebook or a message board only?

I see that you're President, Pacific Northwest Chapter. I'm in Portland. I have two Bugeyes (well, four Bugeyes, on two cars):

1960 Austin-Healey Sprite.jpg


PMO 200.jpg


Thanks again.
 
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Editor_Reid

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That is also not even the right Bugeye wheel. Hope there are no more surprises to find with your car.....

Oh, that was far from the only surprise, but I'm working through them little by little.

When I worked at Sports Car Market magazine several years ago, publisher Keith Martin said that he budgeted 10 percent of the purchase price for repairs on any given vintage car purchased. So for example, if he paid $30,000 for a vintage car, he set aside $3,000 to get it in shape. I told him that if that formula works for him, he is living a charmed life.

My rule of thumb is to figure 50 to 100 percent of the purchase price will be needed to get the car into the shape that it was purported to be in by the seller. This formula has almost never been wrong, and the only times it didn't work were when the repairs of undisclosed faults actually exceeded 100 percent of the purchase price.
 
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Editor_Reid

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So, what does the seller say about the "Wheel of Chagrin"?

I have not contacted the seller since taking delivery of the car. What would be the point besides having a very unpleasant conversation about what a crappy job he did, how devoid of attention to detail he is, what low standards he has, and how much he didn't disclose?

The car was shipped across water. By the time I went to the port to pick it up, my funds had long been in the seller's bank account where they had made, I am sure, a one-way trip.

Honestly, the car was such a disappointment that as I drove it home from the port, trying to control the idle that was stuck at about 5,000 RPM, I was thinking of donating it to some cause or using it as a prize (ha ha!) of some kind. It was a rolling collection of projects, none of which were wanted or expected.

I let it sit for a few months in a storage garage several miles from home before going back to reassess the potential, and decided to try to work through the needs little by little as it did its sworn duty of draining my bank account while doing nothing to improve its new owner's opinion of humankind.

For one example, all of the gauges in the car were wrong and/or inoperative or at least not properly operating. I scrounged a nice-looking speedo and tach from my own collection of spares, bought a fully refurbed combination gauge from Bugeye Guy, and bought a fuel gauge at an as-new price from a local Brit car repair shop, and discovered that the speedo and tach did not operate properly after all. I took them and the fuel gauge to a local instrument restoration business where I paid $1,551 for the refurb and calibration of the three gauges. I have not yet reinstalled them, but I'm now into just the gauges for well over $2,000, and the coolant temp gauge indicates very high when I doubt that's accurate. So the money isn't yet all spent on something you would think (I would think) should be a gimme on a fully restored car.

I've been into British cars over 50 years so I am very, very well aware of the foibles of those old gauges, and I'm willing to accept that they indicate only a relative reading and the needles bounce and swing a bit even when new - I get it, I get it - but sticking needles (goes up to 4,000 RPM and stays there) and a speedo needle that bounces from 0 to 60 MPH while cruising, are outside the range of expected imperfection, even for Smiths.

It will be "a real car" - as Keith Martin calls a car with everything finally working at least half-way reasonably - when I'm done, but the cost and mental anguish take a toll on the Affection Quotient for the car, and driving it is more likely to be a case of dread of what expensive thing is going to go wrong next as opposed to just being able to enjoy it.
 
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Editor_Reid

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Thanks Reid. Is it possible that the car you received wasn't actually the car that the seller advertised with all the info and photos?

No, it is well documented in both photos and paperwork. Creating a duplicate would be astronomically expensive, and without any point to it. This isn't a Ferrari GTO.

It's yet another case of how photos hide any and all imperfections, and how sellers hide (fail to disclose) any and all faults (and/or they're just such slobs that they don't recognize faults when they see them).

It seems to be my assignment in this hobby to take care of all the undisclosed faults of the slobs and crooks I buy cars from! I'm currently going through a similar exercise with a 1962 Sunbeam Alpine, and while fixing everything is not yet complete, I have already easily exceeded 100 percent of the purchase price in repairs.
 

NutmegCT

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Thanks. When I started with my first LBC (1976 MGB) back in 2004, I learned the hard way about buying sight unseen. Unless you personally know the owner/seller, and you have the car checked out by someone you know and trust, it can be a painfully expensive disappointment.

The Internet allows us to see who we really are.

I'd bet that most of us have experienced that once or twice.
 

Boink

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Had a similar experience with my Bugeye back in 2011 (you've seen just recently at the ABFM drive where we briefly chatted). SUPER well-known seller... well, actually, the father of a super well-known seller. Was everything as described? Um... no. I had a buddy in the L.A. area go and look at the car prior to purchase but he just didn't know enough to catch all that needed catching. Thankfully, I didn't have to put much money into the car (maybe 10%). Still, I was seriously ticked-off at some of the things I saw (one item requiring a head re-build, the rest were items I could easily do but all involving very significant safety issues). I thought long and hard about contacting the famous son of the owner/seller but decided I didn't need all that in my life... and they probably didn't need a family brouhaha. Yes, live and learn.
 
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Pythias

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Thanks Bill. I didn't even know they made 13" space-savers. I guess I figured 13" was already saving space.

The 13" space saver tires are from economy cars from the 70's and 80's
I have some wheels in good shape, and I'll use one for a new spare. The wheel I posted doesn't look reasonably restorable.

I hadn't heard of the "Sprite Midget Club, USA." Is that a "live club" with activities and meetings, or an Internet club, like facebook or a message board only?

I see that you're President, Pacific Northwest Chapter. I'm in Portland. I have two Bugeyes (well, four Bugeyes, on two cars):
Sprite-Midget Club USA was formed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sprite. The gathering was held at Lake of the Ozarks Missouri. They had to have some "organization" to be able to reserve the facilities. There still exists the remnants (and pics) on Facebook, but there has been no activity on that site for a very long time...
If you look at the pictures posted there, my car is the red one in the front, 2nd from the right.

Three years later they organized another event held at Elkart Lake WI.

The membership is "loose". Everyone who is a member is a PRESIDENT. Your area is anything and everything you can see from the seat of your Sprite/Midget. There are no dues and no meetings. I am the President of the Northwest because I say so. I used to be over the Northwest except the Seattle area, but Bill Masquiler moved to California. He and I caravaned to Missouri in our Sprites. Coming home I drove from Gillette Wyoming to Kelso in a single day, making the longest single day drive in a Sprite in the 21st Century. (I've been claiming that since 2008 and NO ONE has disputed it.)
Thanks again.
 
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Editor_Reid

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... Coming home I drove from Gillette Wyoming to Kelso [Washington] in a single day, making the longest single day drive in a Sprite in the 21st Century. (I've been claiming that since 2008 and NO ONE has disputed it.)

I won't dispute it! Google Maps says 1,155 miles is the shortest distance.

I drove a Bugeye from Portland Oregon to Deadwood South Dakota and back for Conclave a couple of years ago, but I opted for a more leisurely pace and took five days each way. Still, it was a good long haul.
 

sparkelbry

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Surprise . . . Surprise . . . . I think we have all been there at least once! After several (early on) "SURPRISES" I decided that I every car I bought and had not personally inspected was going to be full of "SURPRISES". So it was to my advantage to get the car at the "lowest" possible price . . . . depend . . . rely . . . expect . . . count on . . . .NOTHING. The best you can expect . . . is that the tires don't go flat before you park it in the garage.
With that said . . . I somehow still managed to violate my oath . I recently became overwhelmed with a car on line (probably my last restoration - wouldn't you know it) that has "by far" become a monumental "SURPRISE". To those new to this arena . . . Please do as I said . . . . not as I did . . . especially on your last time out :-(
 

Pythias

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I won't dispute it! Google Maps says 1,155 miles is the shortest distance.

I drove a Bugeye from Portland Oregon to Deadwood South Dakota and back for Conclave a couple of years ago, but I opted for a more leisurely pace and took five days each way. Still, it was a good long haul.
I didn't mention that this was via Seattle, .. not even the shortest route!
 

Jerry

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I also got burned on one car. One out of 8 is not bad though. The rest of the cars were all bought in pieces. Someone took them apart and never proceeded. The one I got burned on had 60 or 70 pictures but when I took delivery of the car, there was not a picture of the crap welding work on the frame. That required a new frame on a big healey.
Just finished my 8th restoration and all were done with the idea that what does the car need if I were going to drive the car. My wife says I don't have the ability to start in the middle, I have to take it down to the frame and rebuild from there. Its a hobby, and I like doing it.
 
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Editor_Reid

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I also got burned on one car. One out of 8 is not bad though. The rest of the cars were all bought in pieces. Someone took them apart and never proceeded. The one I got burned on had 60 or 70 pictures but when I took delivery of the car, there was not a picture of the crap welding work on the frame. That required a new frame on a big healey.

I've bought something like 8-10 cars via eBay. It's been a long time since the last purchase, and I regretted all but one (yes, I'm a very slow learner). I don't even look at cars on eBay anymore. I guess it's wise to consider that a lot of people sell cars under duress - need the money, fed up with the problems, discovered they can't get the parts they need, spouse giving them heck, got burned by the seller - and they're desperate to unload the thing and will say anything and hide much when they list it.

"Nothing turns a nominally honest man into a liar faster than the need to sell a car."

Just finished my 8th restoration and all were done with the idea that what does the car need if I were going to drive the car. My wife says I don't have the ability to start in the middle, I have to take it down to the frame and rebuild from there. Its a hobby, and I like doing it.

Fair enough. It's interesting how many people enjoy the restoration, repair, upgrade, and general wrench-time first and foremost, and they often even have little interest in driving them. I know people like that.

Me, I like driving them and showing them and learning about their history, and I always think of the "project lovers" as those who would buy an old TV and never watch it, but enjoy taking it apart, upgrading from tubes to transistors, refinishing the cabinet, etc. Different strokes.
 

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No one ever sold a car because it was running too well.

The only two I ever regretted I looked at and bought in person because I am an idiot and bought with my heart and a completely self imposed sense of urgency and not knowing what I was doing. :rolleyes2:
 

drooartz

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The only two I ever regretted I looked at and bought in person because I am an idiot and bought with my heart and a completely self imposed sense of urgency and not knowing what I was doing. :rolleyes2:
That was my first LBC, describes my purchase of that one perfectly. And the BGT I bought briefly. Given my history, the fact that I only have 2 I shouldn't have bought actually makes me feel pretty good. :LOL:
 

DavidApp

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I must admit I got a great deal of satisfaction and enjoyment doing my TR3A restoration and tended to be a bit nervous driving it at first because the driving experience is so different to modern cars. Now that I have driven several thousand miles in it I am much more at home in the TR3 and have a great time driving and taking it to shows.
I have taken on a 74 Midget that was in desperate need of a new home. So I am off on the restoration journey again.

David
 
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