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My Bugeye is back after 38 years


Senior Member
This past Sunday I reacquired my 1961 Bugeye after selling it in 1974. It was sold to a life-long friend to acquire a Healey 3000 with a back seat for my daughter. The friend sold it a year later to his little brother who kept it all these years. Last week I got a call out of the blue asking me if I wanted it back. I couldn't say no.

I bought it in 1973, running but needing rod bearings. It was white with a red interior and a hardtop painted flat black. I repainted the car in the original white, painted the hardtop white, and put a black interior in it. The seats were recovered; everything else in the interior was just painted black. It was 1973, remember. It was a daily driver through the winter and sold in the summer of 1974.

While I kept in touch with my friend through the years, I hadn't seen the Sprite since the mid 1970s. When I saw it last week it was dark metallic blue, retaining its white hardtop just as I had painted it. The interior I installed was still there along with the black spray painted dash. It had acquired a 1098cc engine with HS2 carbs but retained the smooth case gearbox. Sometime, around 30 years ago, 1st and 2nd gears blew. The engine and trans came out; the trans was taken to pieces and put into 2 5-gallon pails. The hood was off its hinges. It sat that way, stored in a couple of places, until I picked it up Sunday.

I'm not yet sure what I want to do with it. I have done some extensive restorations in years gone by, but I may be lazy and just bring it back to presentable running condition and have some fun with it. New paint, though. I do like the blue.

I have some questions, which I hope the forum members can help with.

First, the transmission. I think I will just get a rib case box. There is a photo of the rear engine plate, which measures about 0.325" thick. Is this the thin plate or the thick plate? About how much is a rebuilt rib case trans, or am I better off to source one locally (Milwaukee) and do a rebuild?

Second, the clutch. There's a close up of the pressure plate showing how the spring protrudes through the housing and marks as if the housing has been ground down. This cannot be correct. Is it a consequence of having the wrong engine plate? My plan is to just put a whole new clutch in it, but I was wondering what is up with this one. There is a circular groove of about 10 degrees radius inside the bellhousing right where the starter mounts. It's just like a thin cut, not wide like the grind marks on the pressure plate.

Third, the carbs. These are 1 1/4 carbs on a single heat shield. The heat shield has been crudely hacked out around the exhaust manifold boss (cast) where it connects to the exhaust pipe. Is this a mismatch of years causing a clearance problem? I've seen individual heat shields in the Moss catalog. What do I need?

I've learned a lot in going through old posts and will appreciate any help or suggestions offered. And, I'm glad to have an old friend back home.


These are photobucket pics; is this the best way for this forum?







Welcome, glad you have your old friend back!
Those pictures work just fine.

That heat shield really is a mess.
Yes, get a ribcase - good choice for that 1098.
That's going to be a fun project, hope you get it running and on the road soon!


Country flag
Congrats on getting your BE back. And that little one you are holding is now 36?I know lots of folks will chime in here for advice and you've found hte ringht place to get all of your questions answered.


Jedi Warrior
Welcome and congratulations on getting your BE back!
The engine plate appears to be the "thick" plate. The carb shield has to go - Moss should have a one piece unit listed as originally fitted. Looks like someone cut a hole in it to access the flange on the exhaust. Anyway, it's gotta go!
As for the clutch - are there marks inside the transmission bell housing? Does look like it rubbed against the interior of the housing. Could be the wrong clutch was used, hard to say.
Look up "BugEd" here as I believe he has rebuilt rib case trans for sale. He's here in California but shipping by bus may not be that expensive and the price is probably good!


Senior Member
The only marks inside the bellhousing are a thin, knife-like scratch of about 10 degrees radius (of 360) right at the point where the starter attaches.

And, the little girl just turned 41 last week! The picture was taken in 73 when she was two.

Cool story. I'm the same age as your daughter. By the time I was two years old my father had sold all his fun cars (I'm the youngest of three children). However, when I was a teenager he had started restoring and collecting cars again. I learned a lot from him and he is the reason I continue to have a an interest old cars.

George Zeck

Jedi Warrior
Country flag
Hi Trevor -

I was in the same spot 10 years ago with the re-do of a 1098. After a bit of research, it was a "push" for costs on buying a 1275 & rebuilding vs. parts cost for a 1098 (always thought it had to do with qty of parts available for it).

I'm happy for your new / rekindled purchase.



Great Pumpkin
Congrats! That is a wonderful story (great old photo too).
Best wishes as you "re-awaken" your old car.

I had a Bugeye a few years before you around '70 (sadly long gone, but replaced by a series of Sprite, Minis, etc.). My older daughter is in her late 30s.....my kids remember riding around in old Brit cars during their early years too.

One of my most recent cars in the opposite of your's in terms of powertrain. It's a '73 Midget with a 948cc engine and ribcage trans (with 6-spring, coil pressure plate). Slow as molasses but no problems with clearance.
I was wondering if the marks / scrapes come from a loose clutch pressure plate?
Looks like the "thick", cast plate to me.


Staff member
Country flag
Congrats on reclaiming your old Bugeye -- very neat story.


Quick comment- the 1098 pressure plate is just plain too big for the smoothcase bellhousing. That is the only combination that has problems. Both the 948 and 1275 pressure plates are smaller and fit either the smooth and ribcase transmissions and the ribcase bellhousing will fit any pressureplate.
The 1098 pressureplate will fit the smoothcase bellhousing if you grind out the inside some but it isn't worth the effort- just use a ribcase!
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