PDLJMPR Web Magazine,
April 1, 1996
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The story of my Bugeye, by Mike Lazarowicz
A 1991 article in Road and Track Magazine listed the twenty best sports cars to buy and drive. The bugeye caught my eye and the search began. In about two months I purchased my car from a dealer who had bought the car sight unseen and thought with a few short days of work it could be assembled and driven. It was a complete basket case that was the product of a poor restoration attempt. About twenty percent of the parts were missing. The body was full of plastic and the engine was in pieces.
I had originally decided just to restore the car to a nice driveable condition. Somewhere along the way I met two fellows that convinced me to restore the car to concours condition. Brian Thornton and Bruce Gearns, both who just happen to live in my area. Their inspiration and guidance is in large part responsible for the final product. Brian has what is probably one of the nicest Mark IV sprites in the country and he is in the process of restoring his own concours Bugeye. Bruce Gearns also has a beautifully restored Sprite and has a Bugeye awaiting restoration. Hours on the phone with these guys kept me from making many mistakes and kept my enthusiasm up.
As to the car itself. It was completely stripped to bare metal. New floor pans, pillars and portions of the sill were replaced. The car was repainted completely inside and out as closely as possible to original specs. Every bolt was re-plated as original. The engine and transmission were completely rebuilt. The radiator was restored. All hydraulics were rebuilt, and brake lines redone as original. All chrome that was not replaced with N.O.S. pieces was re-chromed. All aluminum was re-anodized.
The interior was redone in the original English not stretchy vinide (also known as leathercloth). The Hood and tonue were re-manufactured as original with tan underside (not black as most repos are done). The center transmission rubber mat is N.O.S. The floor mats are repros redone to match as closely as possible the originals.
The whole project took about three years. All work on the car was done by me, except the transmission and the sewing of the interior parts.
I am not sure which was more rewarding? Rebuilding the car or meeting all the fine people I have while doing it. Some of the suppIiers used included Motorhead for hard to find parts, Interior and N.O.S. parts from Sports and Classics, as well as Mini Mania and Worldwide Auto for shocks. David Loug'ee who owns a very original Sprite has advised me on originality. George Marinos, who has a genuine enthusiast's interest in the Bugeye was willing to share information with anyone who asked.
I was fortunate enough to receive a Gold-level concours rating last summer at the Sports and Touring Clubs Summer Encounter at Allentown PA. The Judges were kind. They did point out several incorrect aspects of my car. The most glaring is the heater fresh air intake hose. The original is unavailable. It was made of rubber and did not hold up very well. I made an attempt at re-creating it that failed. Recently a replacement that is close to the original has been found. Also I did not use enough undercoating in the wheel wells. The original Bugeye had a very rough coating in this area.
If anyone out there needs to find some obscure part or just wants to talk about some aspect of the car, please feel free to call. (313) 429-1928.
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