One of the most rewarding parts of any project? The first drive.

Before that first drive in our Bugeye Sprite project car, Tom Suddard, our resident expert, quickly tuned the carburetor. While 14.7:1 is the theoretically optimal air/fuel ratio, engines last a lot longer when you run them a little rich, especially at high rpm.

We will start at about 13.5:1 and adjust from there once we get the car on a chassis dyno.

We set our initial static timing at 12 degrees BTDC, with total advance at 32 degrees. The idea, for now, was to get things in a safe range to break in the engine.

Rennie and Tom made that first test drive. While our lowering block idea for the rear suspension was a cool one, the chassis immediately bottomed out.

We removed our rear lowering blocks and installed new stock bump stops as we had cut down the originals.

The rear brakes also dragged, and readjusting the shoes didn’t help. Did we have a parts quality issue, or did the problem stem from adding in the later Midget parking brake setup? Machining an eighth of an inch from the edge of the brake drum got the car properly rolling, but there’s more investigation and work to be done here.

The Sprite’s first public outing would be with Caffeine and Octane Jacksonville. Once the day got rolling, the car was mobbed, with many agreeing that keeping the original Iris Blue was a good decision.

The more we have driven the car, the more we have fallen in love. Despite Sprite’s not rocking the collector car world, we’d call this one worth the effort.

Sprites certainly punch above their weight class, offering more smiles per mile than almost any other car. Add in a supercharger, the five-speed box, limited-slip differential and concours-quality restoration, and we have achieved our goal of creating a little street hooligan.

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