LeMans Sprite

The little Donald Healey Motor Company produced some outstanding cars for motor racing with little money and support. While the Big Healey rally cars tend to get the most press, the modified Sprites were quite successful on major race circuits like LeMans and Sebring.

This is a short video with the current owner of one of those racing Sprites. Joe Armour, and Australian, is well known in the Healey community.

Bugeye Maintenance


Well I had good intentions, but this is woefully out of date. I will try to catch it up soon!

I have not been keeping my maintenance of “The Bugeye” in my website/blog, but I will begin today!

June 29, 2013 

  • Removed the K&N air filters, cleaned them both and sprayed with K&N dust retention oil.
  • Topped up the dashpot oil for the carbs.
  • Changed the oil – Collectors choice with ZDDP (20W-50), 4 quarts.
  • Installed new Mobil 1 oil filter – M1-102

    76mm filter wrench

    Oil & Filter

  • Greased all grease fittings.
  • Checked rear brake cylinders for leaks, topped up the master cylinder with brake fluid.
  • Thoroughly cleaned the under-bonnet area.
  • Checked tire pressures.
  • Checked coolant and added a small amount to the overflow tank.
  • Washed the car, wheels and tires, and the windscreen.

To Do List

  • Replace the Fuel Filter
  • Replace the Fuel Hose

Tube Shock Conversion

The original Armstrong lever shocks on my Bugeye were completely worn out and due for rebuilding or replacement. The rears were particularly bad making for a very “hard” ride. The questions was, should they be rebuilt or replaced with one of the tube shock conversion kits available from the usual Bugeye vendors. My dad installed a Bilstein tube shock conversion kit from Putzke’s on his Bloody Beast AH 3000 and was very happy with it and since Udo Putzke also designed a kit for the Bugeye I decided that it would be a nice Christmas present from my dad! Fortunately, he concurred and right after Christmas we started the install.

Frankly, Udo’s instructions (clicking will download the instructions) could be a little more detailed, but we were able to successfully figure things out.

First we laid out all of the parts that came with the kit. Most everything is self explanatory with the exception of the spacers. Left side components were marked with red circular stickers and the right side components were marked with green circular stickers. 

Putzke's Bugeye Bilstein Shock Kit Components

Putzke’s Bugeye Bilstein Shock Kit Components


Understandably, Udo’s kit assumes a stock Bugeye. If you have made modifications like I have, these modifications can create installation conflicts with the new shocks or their mounting brackets. The first one I encountered was the upgraded anti-sway bar installed on my car. It interfered with the lower mounting bracket. I noticed, as you can see in the following photo, that I may have been driving a little too hard in some auto-crosses! Bent anti-sway bar bracket. For now I removed the anti-sway bar bracket. I will find a solution to this issue after the shocks are installed. I also encountered a conflict in the front upper mounts with my radiator overflow tank that will need to be relocated at some point.

Bent Anti-sway bar mounting bracket

Bent Anti-sway bar mounting bracket

Coolant Overflow Tank

Coolant Overflow Tank

Front Shock Installation – Lower Mount:

1. Pulled the emergency brake and locked the rear wheels.

2. Loosened the wheel nuts on the front wheels, jacked the car up and supported with jack stands and then removed the front wheels/tires.

3. Loosened (don’t remove) the two bolts that hold the the lower spring plate to the front A-arm.

4. Remove one bolt – frame side/inboard.

A-arm Bolt Replacement

A-arm Bolt Replacement

5. Place the new bottom bracket and long spacer on top of the A-arm. Replace the bolt and nut with one supplied in the kit. Tighten until metal contact.

6. Remove the wheel side/outboard bolt.

7. Insert the spacer and rate the bracket over the hole.

LH Front Lower Mounitng Plate and Spacer

LH Front Lower Mounting Plate and Spacer

LH Front Lower Mounting Plate

LH Front Lower Mounting Plate

8.Replace second new bolt/nut.

9. Check spring clearance and pull bracket away from spring.

10. Tighten both bolts to 19lbs.

Front Shock Installation – Upper Mount:

1. Support the lower control arm with a floor jack.

2. Remove three (3) from the Armstrong lever shock. At least in my case, I had to remove the big heater inlet hose to get to the shock bolts.

Removing Armstrong Shock Mounting Bolts

Removing Armstrong Shock Mounting Bolts

3. Remove the oil plug (big hex nut) from the Armstrong shock and take the valving out.

4. Reinstall oil plug and tighten, check and refill oil.

5. Checked the threads on the shock tower to make sure they were clean and in good shape. As Udo’s directions say, “Bad threads must be repaired!”

6. Clean threads with brake cleaner and Use Locktite on threads.

7. Install the original equipment shock with the new bracket on top using the original bolts.

8. Tighten all three (3) bolts to 30 lb.ft.

9. Install the Bilstein shock #F4-BE3-E553-T0 and tighten to 30 lb.ft. (top and bottom)

10. Install the wheels/tires and set the car on the ground.

Udo emphasizes that if you have adjustment plates installed, you must check the camber, caster and toe on the car!

RH Front Shock Installed

RH Front Shock Installed

Rear Shock Installation:

The rear shock installation is much easier than the front. We already had the car off the ground and on jack stands with the rear tires/wheels removed.

1.Removed both the LH and RH rear Armstrong Lever Shocks.

Armstrong Shock with Lever to be Removed

Armstrong Shock with Lever to be Removed

2.Installed the three spacers for the new mount bracket and one new bolt provided with the kit. Torqued nuts to 33 lb/ft.

Armstrong Shock Removed with Spacers in Place

Armstrong Shock Removed with Spacers in Place

RH Tube Shock Bracket in place

RH Tube Shock Bracket in place

3.Installed the rear shock F4-BE3-E554-T0 to the top bracket pin and torqued to 33 lb. ft.

Bilstein Shock Upper Mount

Bilstein Shock Upper Mount

4.Installed the step-down spacer on the lower mounting and torqued to 33 lb. ft.

RH Bilstein Shock Lower Mount on Axle

RH Bilstein Shock Lower Mount on Axle

5. Complete other side. Inspect your work and then reinstall wheels/tires and lower to the ground.

RH Bilstein Shock Mounted

RH Bilstein Shock Mounted

RH Bilstein Shock Mounted

RH Bilstein Shock Mounted

6. Take out for a test drive!

Post installation assessment: Udo’s shocks don’t turn the Bugeye into a Cadillac boulevard cruiser – but then we wouldn’t want that now would we :-). However, the ride is much improved (particularly in the rear) as compared to the admittedly worn out Armstrongs. One cannot really compare the two since we have exhausted lever shocks and brand new tube shocks. The test is always “would you spend the time and money and do it again,” and we think the answer is “yes.”







The Bugeye – 1959 AN5

My name is John Rose and I am the current owner of AN5L11257, engine number 9CUH10910, a 1959 Austin Healey Sprite, popularly known as a “Bugeye” in the States or “Frogeye” if you are from across the pond.

This web site is dedicated to documenting the history of my car, the modifications that have been made to it, and the fun I have had with it.

My Dad, Linwood Rose, my younger brother, Scott, and I attended the 1998 Sprite Bash in Carlisle, PA with the idea of finding a Bugeye to purchase as my first car. Of course, I wasn’t old enough to drive yet, but this was to be a “project” car that would require some work prior to putting it on the road. We looked at a few cars that were for sale, but didn’t make any offers in Carlisle.

Previous Ownership

Later that summer, we were attending the British Car Days Show held in July at Bowie, Maryland on June 28, 1998. Tom Delaney from College Park, MD attended the Show and was walking around the show grounds with a sign taped to the back of his T shirt he was wearing that stated, “1959 Bugeye for sale, enquire within.” I struck up a conversation with Mr. Delaney and we agreed to stop and see his car when we returned from vacation at the end of the week.

Negotiating with Tom Delaney, British Car Day, Bowie, MD June 28, 1998

On July 2, 1998, after a test drive and some negotiating, I was the proud owner and we were driving MY Bugeye home from Maryland to Harrisonburg, VA.

Mr. Delaney did have some records that he passed along to me with the car. These records provided some insight into previous ownership of my Bugeye. I am not sure when Mr.Delaney purchased AN5L11257, but I do have a receipt for parts indicating he was the owner in February 1983.

Curiously, before Mr. Delaney was the custodian of my Bugeye, it was apparently owned by Captain Charles A. Rose of Gaithersburg, MD. I say “curiously,” because my uncle’s name is Charles Rose, and he lives in Maryland, but they are not one and the same.

Captain  Rose purchased my Bugeye in Tennessee according to Tennessee DMV records in September, 1979 from Dean Trathen from Nashville, TN. Mr. Trathen apparently owned the car for only a brief period having purchased it himself in March of 1979 from William L. Easterling from Brentwood, TN. Records show that Mr.Easterling bought the car in September of 1978.

Unfortunately, I don’t have records or any knowledge of ownership of my Bugeye from 1959 to 1978.

Bugeye Blog

My Bugeye Blog chronicles the life and times of AN5L11257 while in my care. I didn’t keep good records at first, so details are a little sketchy until 2000. As the reader of my Bugeye Blog will observe, we have made many “personalizations” to my Bugeye. I have concentrated on making my car fun to drive by increasing performance and handling.

I hope you enjoy my Bugeye Blog and invite your questions or comments.

John Rose