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The "Toadster" - Dave Garron's Bugeye

PDLJMPR Web Magazine, April 1, 1996
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The Toadster is a '59 (registered as a 1960, so I guess that's when it was first sold) Austin Healey Sprite Mk.I, a pretty dignified model name for a bugeye. I don't know much about the history of lil ole AN5L/18502, except that it spent some time in Maine, and archaeological digs have determined that it was born Leaf Green with a red interior. I spent about 30 seconds considering going back to the original colors, but decided to keep the red. The probably unoriginal wire wheels and disk brakes, definitely unoriginal 1098 engine, and a couple of other small details would probably keep the Toadster from winning at Pebble Beach, anyway. If I can keep up with the chipping lacquer with my touchup paint, I should have a new paint job in about two years. The Toadster started out as a parts car for my TR3A. During the winter of 1995, I was looking around for an organ donor, but wasn't having much luck. I saw an ad for a "Bugeye Sprite, mint condition" and thought if I had something British to drive, it would help keep me motivated during the long TR restoration. The owner and I differed in our definitions of "mint", but how can you resist a car that smiles at you the first time you meet? So what if the sills were improperly replaced and you have to lift the doors to get them to close, and the speedometer says I'm doing 0-60-0 in about one second. One week later, I'm taking my new buddy around to make some new friends, starting with the local Motor Vehicle Inspector. It's the only time I've seen the Toadster frown. We were greeted with "I didn't think there were any British cars still running" and "Can't you make that horn stop?" and he went straight for the front end with a three-foot iron bar. One-sixteenth of an inch of outer fulcrum pin play later, I had become a failure. After throwing in a few more "nopes" for having headlamp stoneguards, one turn signal slower than the other, and of course the horn, I was sent on my way. Anyone who has ever tried to fix one part of a Sprite front end knows what comes next. New everything. Well, I passed the inspection two weeks later, and all that's gone wrong since then has been the electric fuel pump (American) and the coil (American). With everything going so well, I guess I can get rid of all my tools. Oh, right, I still have that TR someplace.
Dave Garron
bugeye@neca.com
dave@anj.jorg.uconn.edu