I'm not sure what got me started on the idea of getting a classic sports car. Perhaps my general interest in classic British iron, exemplified by my five British bikes, somehow led me to the conclusion that I really needed to have one of these. Indeed, back in my wild and profligate youth, I had a Triumph TR4A. I loved that car dearly and pampered it beyond all sensibility. It disappeared when I got married, replaced by a 1972 Ford Pinto. Can you imagine a better metaphor for the transition from youth to responsibility? I can't. Sigh.
I have been accused of having a mid-life crisis. No one making that accusation seems to realize that I'm well past mid life, unless I can figure out some way to live to at least 114. In fact, I'm deeply embarrassed that I have not had a mid-life crisis, as is required of all middle-aged boomers, so perhaps, by buying this car, I've recovered a bit of my dignity. Cheaper than a bimbo, though, for sure.
Although I started by looking at bugeye sprites, I also considered MGAs and Triumph TR3s. I must admit to some reluctance to get a TR3, in spite of their beautiful lines, after putting five clutches in my TR4A in about 50,000 miles. An MGA would have been a more substantial and practical car, but...well...along came this one, and I fell in love. What more can I say?
I think I'm extraordinarily lucky to have this car. It is is better shape than I ever could have wished for. The more I drive it, the more I realize how special it is. I don't think I'd have any problem in using this car for general transportation; it's reliability is good enough that I don't really need to worry about it. And, of course, it's a blast to drive. Nothing modern comes close.
Below are a few pictures of the car. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version of any picture.
Below are a couple pictures of the car undergoing restoration by the previous owner. The car was stripped to the bare body, painted, and reassembled. The interior was redone, the engine was rebuilt, and a new transmission installed. Many of the external engine components (starter, generator, and so on) were replaced with new ones as well. When I received it, it was literally no different from a new car.
Well, it had to happen: I've had a few projects involving modifications to the car. These are mostly to improve the reliability without affecting appearance too much. Links to the project reports are below.
Description of the installation of a Crane electronic ignition module.
Electronic Tachometer (PDF)
Design and construction of an electronic tach to replace the
Sprite's mechanical one.
As of March 2009, the circuit and document have been updated a bit.
Fuel System Modifications
Installation of an electric fuel pump and other modifications to prevent vapor locking.
Electronic Horn Relay
Reducing the horn-button current results in a more reliable horn.
Electrical Modifications II
A major revamp of the electrical system to improve safety, allow for expansion, and use modern fusing .
Ammeter and Voltmeter
Design and installation of a combined voltmeter and ammeter. The ammeter uses a Hall-effect sensor instead of a shunt.
Yes, I finally faced the cold fact that Sprite generators just don't hack it. So, here's what I did about it.
A-Series Engine Lubrication
Have you ever seen a description of the lubrication circuit in an A-series engine? Me neither. Here's one.
1275 cc MG Midget Engine Rebuild
I rebuilt a 1275 cc engine, intending to put it into the Sprite, and finally decided against it. A fun project, though.
Electronic Temperature Controller for an Electric Fan
My electric fan needed a thermostat. This works better. .
Oils and ZDDP (PDF)
Results of my research into the issues surrounding ZDDP in motor oil.
Oil Myths (PDF)
Article from the GM Techlinks periodical, by someone who actually knows something.