Brian & Britney Bliven Sprites

The Bliven Bugeyes

I got into Bugeyes as a youngster when I rode around in the boot of my dad’s green car. My older brother rode shotgun, so I got to ride on top of the Dunlop Goldseal spare. I was smaller then and seat belt laws were more liberal. As I got older, I kept the original green car, which had a bad engine and sat for many years. I decided to restore a few other Bugeyes as a way to “practice” for the concours restore and learn about the cars while leaving the original car original.

The white car was my first attempt and is a good driver with minor upgrades: 948 with 5-speed conversion, disc brakes. It has been on the Snowball Rally and attended Rendezvous and is well-driven and shown locally. The yellow car is a more developed rally car: disc brakes, front and rear sway bars, 1275 drive train, ribcase, 3:90 rearend, oil cooler, fresh electrical and a leaf green interior. Fun ride. Forty years later I’m involved in Healeys more than I should be. I’ve owned and repaired more than I can count as a hobby. Cars find me now.

The #2 green car on the trailer with silver stripe (aka “funkalicious car,” because green car was already taken) was a recent estate find, I was contacted to provide a value estimate. I had no interest in the car other than to find a good home for it and provide the owner with information. The widow seller and her son-in-law also wanted a good home for it and were in a hurry to move the car. It had sat in her garage since the mid-’80s. Her husband passed in 2006 and she was selling her house.  So it came home with me. My daughter, Britney, who has spent time assisting me in many Bugeye restorations and repairs, being navigator on many events and becoming of driving age, fell in love at first sight and decided she wanted this car. It was a terrible little thing needing brakes, wiring, tires, rubber, suspension, missing bits and showing signs of being club-raced with many paint jobs and minor body work. She named it the “funkalicious car” and asked if she could fix it and make it run if she could have it. I figured a running car would flip easier, and if I didn’t have to do the work, I had nothing to lose.

Within a few weeks, the engine was flushed, inspected, made to run and sorted out with a carburetor rebuild. Britney rebuilt the entire front-end suspension, replacing bushings and converting to disc brakes, including the kingpins. She had tires mounted on the “Shelby” marked alloy rims that came with the car. One rim was straightened. All the weather sealing was replaced to seal the car. She added seat belts and mirrors for safety. After a VB shopping spree to complete roadworthy repairs, and installing of those parts, the car became her daily driver. She is saving for a paint job and further upgrades.

She is now the third generation Bugeye owner in our family. We have been having fun on local backroads, driving our cars with fellow enthusiasts.