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Thought I would share 50 years with a BE

jlaird

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for those who have not seen it in the Brit Clubs monthly paper.

Pensacola Austin-Healey Club member, Jack Laird, writes:

In 1962, when I was a young Air Force Lieutenant, my wife, Kay and our son arrived in Hawaii. Shortly thereafter we bought our first 1960 Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite and it was our only car for the next five years. We took it on family outings, trips to the grocery, and raced it a bit as well. (See YouTube, Hawaii Bugeye) When we were transferred, the Sprite was left in Hawaii. During our next assignment we bought a new 1966 Mustang GT.
Fast forward -- Twenty years to Atlanta GA. We needed a second car so I found and restored our second Bugeye. I drove it all over the East Coast and to work every day through my retirement in 1988. We sold it in 1991 when my wife and I went to Saudi Arabia for eight years.
Fast forward again to 2005 -- Retirement to Niceville Florida. I sold our rather large sailboat and I guess my wife, Kay could tell I was a bit at loose ends. One Niceville day she remarked. “You need something to keep busy”, so I started looking for a third Sprite.
I found our third Bugeye Sprite in Texas. It was a rusting, abused tub that was stuck away in a warehouse for many years and was just waiting for me to find her. The poor little Sprite was found striped except for dash, wheels, and suspension. Even the wheels had to be replaced because they had been modified for racing and damaged beyond repair. Home she came, along with a truckload of parts. Each and every piece was cleaned and painted -- Ready to be installed or replaced.
I sent the tub out to be professionally sand blasted followed by coats of primer with skim coats of filler to make everything very smooth. Many coats of Old English White, clear coat and lots and lots of sanding and polishing followed this. Oh my goodness, you could fall into the body, unbelievable!
I spent about a year and a half restoring her to better than original condition with a few minor updates such as a spin-on-oil filter. I did the work myself with the exception of painting and machining. Every single item that could possibly wear has either been rebuilt or replaced… She is, in effect, a "new old car"!!
We named our third Sprite, “Miss Agatha”, and she has smiled ever since.
Miss Agatha runs great with a top speed of just about 70 MPH and never leaves her garage unless the weather is clear and the streets are dry. In the garage she is always covered and pampered like the lady she is. Miles per gallon are in the high 30s, but we prefer to talk about smiles per mile and she gets lots and lots of huge grins!
Miss Agatha is never quite finished. It seems there is always something else to fiddle with or improve as I find better parts or replace old, tired ones. I expect Miss Agatha will be around the Florida Panhandle as long as I am. She seems to like it here in Niceville at Blue Water Bay.
 

SaxMan

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Great story & video. Do you know if either of your previous BEs are still extant?

Again, even though I've only been an LBC owner for 9 months, I totally get the "never quite finished". There always seems to be something that either needs to be fixed, or can be improved.
 
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jlaird

jlaird

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No clue where the first two are, one left in Hawaii and another in Sumpter SC.
 

59diamond

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When I graduated from High School in June 1960 I had a 50 Olds Coupe. It was green lowered in the front with moon Hub Caps. I blew the engine shortly before i graduated and it sat in my Parents back yard for about six months before my Brother helped me put in a new engine and soon after I sold It for $600. I then saw an Old english White 59 Bugeye for sale for $1200.00 on a Chevy dealers lot that someone had traded in for a new chevy. So I bought the car in late 1961 and drove it every day to college until I sold it in late 1963 for $1200.00 to buy my wife an engagement ring. My next Bugeye was Cherry Red and I bought it in May 2012. I sold it in January 2014 in order to buy Scott Macdonald's 1960 Old English White Bugeye in January, 2014. So I have come full circle and will never need another Bugeye. My wife and I will celebrate our 50th Wedding anniversary next month and we will drive to the party in 60 FROG.
 

smaceng

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Hey Bill, with a story like that, I realized that 60 Frog was meant for you and I could not resist putting it in your garage.
Cheers and happy anniversary!
Scott in CA
 

59diamond

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Thanks Scott it means a lot to me to be able to do this. It is a fine specimen of a Bugeye and I am taking very good care of it. Also I have been taking good care of my wife Joal for all these Years.
Bill
 

tomshobby

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Jack, I enjoyed reading your story. You were one of the first ones that responded to my questions when I first got my Midget some 5 years ago. Knowing nothing about the car I had purchased I appreciated to what I am sure were pretty dumb questions. Thanks, Tom
 

aeronca65t

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Great video!

And you've go me beat by about 7 years.

Here's a shot of me at an autocross at Neshaminy Mall in Pennsylvania in 1969. I still technically own this car (but it's a semi-cut up parts car).

I have always owned at least one British sports car since 1967. I bought my first Brit saloon (an A40) in 1964.

sprite_neshamall_autox.jpg
 

69sprite

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Jack, Great Story. You have always been an inspiration and mentor to us.

Larry Swofford
 

nomad

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Great stuff and like Nial, I've had at least one brit sports car around since 67 or 68. I remember well the parking lot autocross'es of the time along with local rally's.

Kurt.
 

Bayless

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Not much of a sportscar but I have owned this LBC since 1962.
 

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jlaird

jlaird

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Hmm, she is for sale with my extensive spares but.... who would pay the price.
 

BillW103

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Jack, The first Bugeye I saw was being driven by a Lieutenant on Fort Lewis WA 1961. I finally bough one 1979 with my last $250.00 making my pregnant wife very unhappy. It needed a master cylinder and it was $350.00 so it got pushed into the corner of the garage and forgotten. 30 years later after the last of 3 children finished collage I puled it out and got it back on the road 50 years from manufacture. It was worth the weight. Thanks to the Interweb.
 
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