Phil's purchase of a yellow 1960 Bugeye in the 'fall' of 1993 at the Elburn Festival in Illinois was an impulse buy. It retained its 948 engine and smooth case gearbox, and was stored while he acquired parts for the project: 1275 engine, 5 speed box, wheels ... and wiring. Around 1999 he read, in Healey Marque, of Jonathan Whitehouse-Bird's restoration of EAO and realised he wanted to create a replica, so called Brian at Archer’s Garage and ordered a fibreglass coupe top, bonnet and inlet manifolds. Things were then put on hold for a while due to his move to Michigan.
His project was re-started in December, 2009 with a trip to the sand-blasting company, Consolidated Stripping & De-rusting in Plainwell, Michigan. This resulted in the discovery of many holes in the body, with Phil spending a lot of time at the bodyshop over the next 5 months, stripping filler, paint and making patch-panels before repairs could be completed and the shell re-finished in red primer, with black satin paint to the chassis and interior.
The bodyshell was brought home and fitted with a 1½” SCCA style roll bar, followed by detailed sanding and application of skim coats of filler. The front and rear suspension were fitted and then the bonnet and roof, the former taking much longer than planned because he had to add about ¾” to one side in order to get everything to fit!! Some care was needed for the roof too, but eventually these tasks were completed by December of last year, 2011.
Earlier this year (2012), after seeking my advice as to paint colour, Phil contacted John Sprinzel, resulting in a decision ~ it is to be the official silver metallic grey with perhaps a flash of maroon across the nose ~ another decision made. Phil's specification for his new car runs like this:-
"Body / chassis: The stock body and chassis repairs were completed over a four month period at Don Stoughton’s shop, West Michigan Painting, in Allegan, Michigan. After panel replacements were completed, internal panels were treated with rust preservatives followed by a red oxide primer, black satin paint and undercoating, auto primer was applied to the body panels including the fiberglass bonnet and coupe roof from Archers Garage Limited.
Engine: A Sprite 1275 block has a clean-up bore, 0.30 over and is about 1300cc with flat top pistons giving a 8.8 to 1 compression ratio, David Vizard-modified twin 1½" S.U. carburettors are mounted on Healey aluminum intake manifolds. The head is ported to Stage 3 and the exhaust is long centre branch type. A Kent 266 Megadyne camshaft, lifters (rockers) and springs are used; a modified distributor is fitted. All the engine work was done by Bill Trusdale at Apex Automotive Engineering, Inc. in Bensenville Illinois. An oil cooler and remote air cleaner were also added.
Gearbox and Differential: A Datsun five speed is mated to the engine via a special 5-speed conversion kit by Rivergate Restoration Products in Soddy-Daisy, Tn., drive shaft, speedometer gearing with very good instructions. The differential is a 4.22 ring and pinion.
Brakes: The front disk brakes are Lotus/Spitfire 9 ½” with MGB calipers fitted. Mk4 Sprite drum brakes are at the rear. The brake pedal housing is from a Mk4 with a 5/8” dual master circuit and stock clutch master cylinder.
Suspension: Steering is stock; suspension is upgraded all around with heavy duty springs provided by The Winner’s Circle in Ohio. All front end components bushings and bolts are new. Offset bushings are used in the front suspension upper trunnion to increase camber. First generation Rostyle 4½” wheels are fitted with Firestone 165 70/13 tires. A stock 5/8” sway (anti-roll) bar will be used for starters.
Interior: No decision as yet".
October 2013 Progress:
Phil is going to paint the car in a metallic silver and as he plans to use it for road use as well as track he plans to trim out the interior. He has adapted the fuel filler to take an MGA flip-top cap, fabricated a rear bumper and will be removing these as well as the hardtop and bonnet for painting. All mechanical and electrical parts are installed and working and Phil recently fired the engine for the first time. His most recent addition has been the exhaust tail pipe and resonator - he had to make all new exhaust hangers to fit it to the original body mountings. Quite a number of parts on the car are unique as Phil has made them himself. He still has to fit the seats, add one more roll bar brace and do the upholstery. He anticipates that he will need one season's road and track use to get the Sebring fully sorted. There are two circuits within 40 minutes of his home - Gingerman (2.1 miles long) and Grattan (2.2 miles) - in Michigan, USA.
Fitting new floors, etc
Undercoating, the interior and engine bay.
Fitting of the bonnet and beginning assembly>
The rolling chassis with suspension and steering
Hardtop in place
Battery box repaired
Body repairs continue
Rear suspension mount
"The good news for me is that painting my Sebring is scheduled for mid April. So if things go well the car will be all together by the end of May".
Phil reports: "Progress is slow at this time of year but is being made. Attached are 3 pics: one is of the rear with lights assembled, one shows the interior with carpeting and lastly the new grill to keep the bugs out of the oil and radiator. Since I'll be using the car for track and street outings, there are some non-race items. I've decided to build some side windows that will be easy to build and maintain. Will let you know how they turn out.