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Bugeye restoration

Front right quarter

Left side

At Panel Shop

 

Rolling chassis

Finished - left side

Finished - front view

 

The project started as a call from a friend to say a Mark 1 Austin Healey was for sale as a restoration project.  Now as I was nearing 40yrs I thought this would be a good little project to keep me occupied. 

Not ever knowing anyone who had owned a Mk1 nor ever closely looking at the model before left me at a disadvantage.  The car shell was tied to a 6 x 4 box trailer and covered with an old Tarp.  With several boxes scattered throughout the shell and under the car in the trailer void the number of parts seemed plentiful, but what was I looking for.   After a brief negation I towed the trailer away for about $1500.

After some time pondering what to do I set about finding who could help me.

This is where Tony Bennetto and Ian from the Bugeye barn in Melbourne gave me some assistance.  There were a number of parts I initially purchased including a Fibreglass bonnet, as the one supplied with the car was fibreglass Sebring reproduction.  

The car had no major rust except for surface but there were a number of back yard repairs.  The guy who owned the car prior to me had attempted to repair / replace the sills and cut the back around the number plate to gain access to the boot.  The car had a number of holes drilled into the body (for roll bar and luggage rack etc) that Tony explained weren't required.   After trying one panel beater that proved to be fruitless I found Fernando NF panels in Campbellfield.  I decide on BRG as a colour mainly due to the picture of a Bugeye I had picked up on the Internet. 

The T shaped moulding at the rear of the car had been removed so I had them replaced and the car sprayed. There was virtually no damage on the car body and only a little rust that was cut out an replaced the car was ready to be picked up buy the guys at the Bugeye Barn.  Ian and Tony decided that the Welder Fernando used wasn't as skill full as one of there colleges and a little bit of additional repair work took place.  With no time the car was a rolling chassis and back to Fernando for a touch up before the rest or the restoration could take place.  

The Fibreglass bonnet proved to be fraught with problems.  The Painting process has separated the support-strengthening bar at the top of the bonnet leaving an uneven surface to this day.  More deadly to a good finish was the spider webbing that happened around the lights.  This was fixed by Fernando using additional fibreglass to support the area and take out the flexing.

Not having an engine posed a short term problem as I purchase a couple of Morris Minors for parts and had the Bugeye Barn sort through the Morris Ute and sedan looking for reusable parts while remove a 948cc motor and gearbox. The engine is still running fine though I'm looking to upgrade to a 1275 at some later date.  Though the original gearbox was working as designed I have upgraded to a rebuilt ribbed case later model that  has increased the driver enjoyment for the car.  

Most of the front / rear suspension, front hubs, the rear axle housing, the differential and the rear axle shafts were in the parts I initially Purchased.  The Brakes were as new second hand complements of Ian's upgrade to disks on his car.  Numerous parts were purchased including all of the chrome, the alloy cockpit surrounds.  The Alloy pieces were polished, a new windscreen fitted and then attached to the body.   It seemed never ending but with 4 original Sprite Mk 1 wheels that had to be re trimmed and painted I was able to fit my new Michelins tyres.

The Radiator was replaced with a later model unit to improve cooling and as always where practical second hand parts were used to save money.

Finishing touches to the engine including a fresh coat of paint and a new exhaust system.  Tony set about adapting to the manifold / engine the set of twin SU off a Triumph that I had in my ever-dwindling box of parts.   My leftover parts including the Sebring glass bonnet, the 1100cc head that came with the car were traded-in with the Bugeye barn, which not on saved a bit of money but stopped my garage from looking like a wrecking yard.     

I decided on MG black with white piping for the interior.  I purchased a new hood but the entire trimming including the Tonneau cover was done by Ross Miller, a retired motor trimmer from Ashwood Melbourne.  The second hand seats supplied by the Bugeye barn were reconditioned and panelling cut to shape and covered leaving a relatively easy job for me to install with the new dark grey carpets.

With the car now driveable I set about registering the car. The original ID plates for the car were missing so using the body number stamped on the car (5368) I made up plates for the car as a VIN - AN 55368. I did chase a couple of people including Ray English to see if the car had ever been know with the 5368 body stamp but I had no luck.  Using Tony's knowledge of the Sprite car chassis, he had worked on a few in his career, he indicted the car was most probably a 1959 model.   Seat belts fitted and a roadworthy completed I was ready to go.

How much did it cost?  A good point I stopped counting at about $16K but it wasn't to far north of that price.  Is it finished .... When do you stop on a project like this?  I'll probably one day replace the glass bonnet with a metal one and upgrade the engine to a 1275cc.  A good experience and still enjoying the driving particularly the relaxed trip to work on a warm day.

It's been a lot of fun and I've got to meet some interesting people along the way. 

If you would like to contact me mark.johnson@optus.com.au   

 

 

The project started as a call from a friend to say a Mark 1 Austin Healey was for sale as a restoration project.  Now as I was nearing 40yrs I thought this would be a good little project to keep me occupied. 

Not ever knowing anyone who had owned a Mk1 nor ever closely looking at the model before left me at a disadvantage.  The car shell was tied to a 6 x 4 box trailer and covered with an old Tarp.  With several boxes scattered throughout the shell and under the car in the trailer void the number of parts seemed plentiful, but what was I looking for.   After a brief negation I towed the trailer away for about $1500.

After some time pondering what to do I set about finding who could help me.

This is where Tony Bennetto and Ian from the Bugeye barn in Melbourne gave me some assistance.  There were a number of parts I initially purchased including a Fibreglass bonnet, as the one supplied with the car was fibreglass Sebring reproduction.  

The car had no major rust except for surface but there were a number of back yard repairs.  The guy who owned the car prior to me had attempted to repair / replace the sills and cut the back around the number plate to gain access to the boot.  The car had a number of holes drilled into the body (for roll bar and luggage rack etc) that Tony explained weren't required.   After trying one panel beater that proved to be fruitless I found Fernando NF panels in Campbellfield.  I decide on BRG as a colour mainly due to the picture of a Bugeye I had picked up on the Internet. 

The T shaped moulding at the rear of the car had been removed so I had them replaced and the car sprayed. There was virtually no damage on the car body and only a little rust that was cut out an replaced the car was ready to be picked up buy the guys at the Bugeye Barn.  Ian and Tony decided that the Welder Fernando used wasn't as skill full as one of there colleges and a little bit of additional repair work took place.  With no time the car was a rolling chassis and back to Fernando for a touch up before the rest or the restoration could take place.  

The Fibreglass bonnet proved to be fraught with problems.  The Painting

process has separated the support-strengthening bar at the top of the bonnet leaving an uneven surface to this day.  More deadly to a good finish was the spider webbing that happened around the lights.  This was fixed by Fernando using additional fibreglass to support the area and take out the flexing.

Not having an engine posed a short term problem as I purchase a couple of Morris Minors for parts and had the Bugeye Barn sort through the Morris Ute and sedan looking for reusable parts while remove a 948cc motor and gearbox. The engine is still running fine though I'm looking to upgrade to a 1275 at some later date.  Though the original gearbox was working as designed I have upgraded to a rebuilt ribbed case later model that  has increased the driver enjoyment for the car.  

Most of the front / rear suspension, front hubs, the rear axle housing, the differential and the rear axle shafts were in the parts I initially

Purchased.  The Brakes were as new second hand complements of Ian's upgrade to disks on his car.  Numerous parts were purchased including all of the chrome, the alloy cockpit surrounds.  The Alloy pieces were polished, a new windscreen fitted and then attached to the body.   It seemed never ending but with 4 original Sprite Mk 1 wheels that had to be re trimmed and painted I was able to fit my new Michelins tyres.

The Radiator was replaced with a later model unit to improve cooling and as always where practical second hand parts were used to save money.

Finishing touches to the engine including a fresh coat of paint and a new exhaust system.  Tony set about adapting to the manifold / engine the set of twin SU off a Triumph that I had in my ever-dwindling box of parts.   My leftover parts including the Sebring glass bonnet, the 1100cc head that came with the car were traded-in with the Bugeye barn, which not on saved a bit of money but stopped my garage from looking like a wrecking yard.     

I decided on MG black with white piping for the interior.  I purchased a new hood but the entire trimming including the Tonneau cover was done by Ross Miller, a retired motor trimmer from Ashwood Melbourne.  The second hand seats supplied by the Bugeye barn were reconditioned and panelling cut to shape and covered leaving a relatively easy job for me to install with the new dark grey carpets.

With the car now driveable I set about registering the car. The original ID plates for the car were missing so using the body number stamped on the car (5368) I made up plates for the car as a VIN - AN 55368. I did chase a couple of people including Ray English to see if the car had ever been know with the 5368 body stamp but I had no luck.  Using Tony's knowledge of the Sprite car chassis, he had worked on a few in his career, he indicted the car was most probably a 1959 model.   Seat belts fitted and a roadworthy completed I was ready to go.

How much did it cost?  A good point I stopped counting at about $16K but it wasn't to far north of that price.  Is it finished .... When do you stop on a project like this?  I'll probably one day replace the glass bonnet with a metal one and upgrade the engine to a 1275cc.  A good experience and still enjoying the driving particularly the relaxed trip to work on a warm day.

It's been a lot of fun and I've got to meet some interesting people along the way. 

If you would like to contact me mark.johnson@optus.com.au   

 

 

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/SPAN> Bugeye Barn 2003

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