That’s a tough question to answer. It depends on what you’re trying to get to. You might be able to find an I assembled kit but that’s getting harder and harder to do. You could but a roller and ask the builder to supply all the parts and you put them on. Or you could find a project car and finish it. I’m not an expert but I think a minimum is $20K US up to $30K US or even more if you go all out.
BTW, where are you located. That’s a factor as well.
Before 1990 CMC (FF too) sold a kit for around $8k plus shipping ($1k+) and you supplied the VW donor car. The kit included fiberglass seats, cut foam and sewn vinyl for the basic seat; gauges, wiring, emblems, nuts/bolts were extra; it had the vinyl top and frame. There are still unbuilt kits still in the box from CMC out there. Some appear as low as $6-8k but expect to in for 16-20k +.
You can buy a fiberglass body and sub frame or tub frame from places like KitMan. The other parts can be sourced as you get to them - be sure to add up what they will cost before you jump in on a new kit. You may not be completely happy with say a vinyl top in old CMC kit but you can upgrade later. Doing an update to a running built kit when purchased for reasonable $ is probably the cheapest was to get into the hobby - but over time the upgrades will add up quickly.
Beck (Indiana) and Vintage Motorcars (California) are both highly regarded around these parts, as is Intermeccanica out of Vancouver, BC in Canada. Their specs are quite different, so take a look at them, talk to the owners, and figure out a budget. Kitman motors is reputable if you want to build it yourself. I believe that they just sell bare bodies.
JPS has mixed reputation on this site, and Thunder Ranch has been out of business for a number of years unless they found a new owner. There is also a Vintage Speedsters in Arizona that I know little about.
These guys can get you what you need/want and I'm sure would offer any consultation along the way.
If you want to build everything including shortening a VW chassis you could get a body from Kitman Motors but that means you're building it all from scratch. He also doesn't sell any of the parts you'll need.
The blue lettering is a hyperlink, just click on the link to go to their websites.
Hey @Ace, what are your skills? Have you built a car before? Refurbished one? Engine swaps?
Do you already have a set of hog ring pliers? Ever welded new floor pans into an old Bug? Replaced a rotted out a Napolean's Hat?
If so... get you some kit! This is gonna be fun.
If not... maybe think about loading up one of those Craigslist crawlers into your browser and going hunting. In fact, even if you already have done a fair amount of wrenching, that might be the best way to get where you want to go on the proverbial cheap.
These cars, by my lights, cost way too much for what they are (hey it's just a reskinned old VW!)—but also nowhere near as much as they should (hey it's a custom-built hotrod roadster that looks almost exactly like a $350,000 automotive icon!)
It's hard to get one up to snuff under $20,000, but it can be done. Just remember that even though the body won't rust, the pan/chassis will. Look over (and under!) anything you consider buying. It all can be fixed, but man, if you gotta do a new front frame head, it's going to take some patience and more welding skill than most of us have in our home shop.
Ask yourself these questions:
What do I want to do?
If you want to play around, drive to cars & coffee, picnic at a winery, and putter around with oil changes and valve adjustments—good! That's the sweet spot. Find a good used Speedster replica on the Samba or craig's or this very site & buy it.
If you want to build a project, that's a whole other hobby, almost (ask me how I know!). You can still find unfinished kits here and there. See skill check, above.
What do I want this car to do?
If you want a cool cruiser that looks vaguely/generally 356 Speedster-shaped with easy old bug maintenance characteristics, good! That's what makes the most sense from a bux/gratification standpoint. Buy right and with luck you can get there for $16-$18k
If you want something that truly can "go fast" and/or "carve canyons" and/or "clip apexes," these cars can be made somewhat useful. But it costs.
If you want something that looks so much just like a goddamn 1956 Speedster that a concourse judge at Pebble Beach would probably fall for it, that, too, can be arranged. $50,000, maybe.
If you want a fast, canyon-carving car that looks just like the real deal? Not actually possible. Not that guys don't try.
How much time do I have?
You might be young. You might be retired. If so, great. You can build a project AND drive it to your heart's content. Guys with jobs, wives, kids...they tend to run into what I call the Time Wall. Think of it as like an enormous grandfather clock made of granite that topples over on top of them like the giant foot stomping on the cartoon people in the opening credits of Monty Python's Flying Circus.
Or the Spanish Inquisition. Or something. Anyway, pay attention, and think ahead. Building one of these definitely takes more than 40 hours.
How much money can I spend?
$20,000: Low budget. Get something rust free, smaller engine, probably needs work--gauges, steering wheel, interior, gelcoat, disc brakes, wheels, tires, shifter. Fix a little every year, during the off season.
$26,000: mid low. Buy a nice used Vintage Speedster. 1915cc Type 1, good build. Something catastrophic might happen, but maybe not. Make neat little cosmetic changes to customize to your tastes.
$30k: middle. You can buy a new speedster for this but maybe a used IM or Beck with low miles. 2110 engine. Maybe a Subaru. Leather. Still, something catastrophic could happen, but less likely. As above, cool little changes.
$35+K: Madness, lunacy. An IM or Beck with bells and/or whistles. Pick from column A (Speed and handling, IRS, special wheels, serious horsepower) and column B (correct shifter, correct gauges, umbrella-handle e-brake, dressed big, well-built Type 1 VW engine to look like a Type 692).
It gets weirder and more expensive from there.
Anyway, welcome to the group. Eyes open. And good luck!
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