Keith’s Blog: A Bugeye Nose Becomes a Dinner

“Do you want the spare parts that go with it?”

It’s a familiar phrase when you make a new acquisition. More often than not, the seller is anxious to get rid of the spare parts that accumulated during their ownership. Sellers waving goodbye to a car are often happy to clear out their garage — and help fill yours.

When I bought Bradley’s 1960 Bugeye Sprite a couple of years ago, the seller threw in a 1,275-cc block, head and crank, which we later used to build a new engine for this car.

We also ended up with a complete spare steel nose for the car. The Sprite had been fitted with an aftermarket fiberglass nose, so we had no use for the part. But how could we say no?

After moving the heavy steel nose around the SCM garage a few times, I decided it was time for it to go.

It was too heavy and bulky to try to sell on Craigslist, so an automotive swap meet was the logical choice.

Every year, the Columbia Gorge MG Club hosts a British Autojumble. It’s a modest affair, held in a parking lot in Northwest Portland. There are perhaps 30 vendors and 100 attendees.

A decade ago, I accidentally bought a bright orange Triumph Spitfire there. My daughter Alex learned how to bump-start a car in that Spitfire.

I was told the nose was worth $500 to $1,000.  I knew one thing for sure – it wasn’t coming home with me.

The nose fit nicely in the back of our Suburban, a reminder of just how tiny these cars are.

I arrived and unpacked the nose. I strolled around for a bit, and picked up a set of 3-inch lap belts for $15 that was perfect for the Alfa Romeo Sprint Speciale.

Then a Bugeye enthusiast and his wife came along. They had a pair of Bugeyes at home, and they were looking for a nose. I told them it was $500. They asked if I would take $300.

SOLD!

He felt he got a great deal, and I was glad to free up space in the garage.

I texted Alex and asked if she wanted to have a dinner courtesy of the departed nose.

Her pick was a La Moule, a Portland bistro. So, $300 later, the spare Bugeye nose was transformed into steak tartare, raw oysters, mussels with frites and a nice bottle of Tempranillo.

It was a perfect exchange.

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

Posted in Blogs, Keith Martin

5 comments

  1. Keith: You should have fit the original steel nose and sold the plastic one. Some vintage racing clubs will not allow the retro-fit aftermarket glass nose. The car will also be worth more with original panels down the road…

  2. Great story about the swap meet. [You DO realize that now that you have sold the spare nose.., someone will back into the Sprite and make the existing nose look like a pretzel? I have vast experience with this and two large sheds full of spares. ;->]

  3. If that Bugeye bonnet was in great shape you could have had 2 more dinners! The rusty, dented ones are going for $200 -$400 amongst Bugeye fans back East.

  4. Why not put the steel nose back on the car? Oh well, too late now! I guess with the 1275 it’s slightly departed from standard anyway. Have you got discs on the front yet?

  5. Never should have I let it go, especially for that money, your car is probably worth $1500 less with that glass bonnet. Sprite noses make great shop wall automotive art, mount it with a couple of brackets, with headlights glowing, priceless, plus you have your Sprite nose. Just my opinion
    Ketchme

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