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Hi all!!

just joined, looks like great content and helpful people.

I’m an American currently in Germany looking to buy a Speedster replica upon returning to the US in a couple of years.

I’m a previous Porsche 911 turbo owner but new to the smaller VW based engines so any advice on a first purchase is greatly appreciated.

Thanks!!!

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You'll be getting a bunch of opinions, but (woohoo!) I'm supplying the first.  I'm a big proponent of Beck cars, having had a couple, as you cannot get better customer support.  They've recently introduced their newest Speedster chassis, which has fully independent suspension with double A-arms in front and coil-overs front and rear.  It also has rack and pinion steering and 4-wheel disks.  You can run air-cooled VW or water-cooled Subaru power.  The only fly in the ointment is a roughly 3-year waiting list, which should be much of a problem for you given your personal schedule.  Check out www.beckspeedster.com.

If you want a more traditional build, Vintage Motorcars in CA is also known for their quality and support.

I would strongly recommend avoiding any other builders.

Enjoy the process and Welcome to the Madness!

Another thing to consider, if you're thinking of a new build, is where you'll be living when you return.  The two big builders are in an LA Suburb and Indiana and it's nice to be close-ish to them for the build and later service.   Not necessary, by any means, but a nice-to-have.

Apart from a new build, I would strongly recommend the same thing as Wngd, above, that is, look for a used one or at least follow them on eBay or BaT to understand the market.  Many people buy these cars thinking they'll be getting a re-bodied Mazda Miata.  These cars are not that.  They are mostly fair-weather cars with 1950's technology and many of the same idiosyncrasies as back then, so some buyers tire of them after a few months to a year and sell them.  We see a lot of 1 year old cars with under 500 miles for sale every year.

Good hunting.  

It depends.

Those engines with aluminum push rods set intakes at .004" and Exhaust at .006" (and some people just set everything at .006")

Those engines with Steel pushrods (which don't grow when the engine heats up) set the valves to "Loose Zero" meaning that you can gently spin the push rod with your fingers.  

I'm a little more timid so I set my steel rods to a "Looser Zero" which probably equates to around .001 or so.  All that happens is I get a little more rocker noise to drive my motorcycle-racing neighbor nuts.

Containing/managing heat is an issue for the larger engines, so, many of us run an external, fan-assisted oil cooler somewhere in the rear of the car, set to turn the fan on over 180ºF oil temps.  Most engines over 1,900cc need this.

Last edited by Gordon Nichols

Welcome, Byron.

I will add my voice to the chorus who advise buying a used one. They're a little cheaper and often (not always) are somewhat pre-sorted.

"Sorted" you say?

Yes! In the days of yore, the sporting gentlemen was obliged to correct all the minor deficiencies of his vehicle after delivery. These tended to run the gamut from faulty, or imprecisely-aimed headlamps to ever-so-minor oil drips from various mechanical systems, to a persistent off-idle stumble. Shifters may require adjustment; float arms bending, suspensions alignment. And all this is prior to the Necessary Upgrades, to include cocoa mats, special badging and custom steering wheels, etc.

Most new owners get it exactly backwards, putting all the nifty accessories on before the first shakedown drive. Many never fully sort their car.

They all need a little sorting, which is why Gordon suggested the geographical considerations listed above. Both Beck and Vintage tend to help this process with a gentle professionalism seldom seen in today's market. They tend to extend a helping hand even to second-hand customers. Very few such customers will say a disparaging word about either company, and those who will tend to reveal themselves as the unrealistic, petty bummers they tend to be.

All of which is to say: be realistic. These cars are not real 1957 Porsches, but they are built primarily from the same suite of technologies extant during the latter Eisenhower Period. These parts are what imparts their charm.

VS had a 9 page owners manual - think it's here for paying members.  Very basic.  Most get a Bentley VW manual or How to keep your air cooled VW alive.  VW specs apply for distributor used and other tune up items. If you buy new you can make sure you get build info - used, its up to PO.  Some VS motors had size written on back of the fan shroud but not all.  Even getting displacement, cam info and heads used can be a challenge on used cars.  Many were called "Mexi-crate" built on the cheap with questionable parts.  1915 cc was a popular economy "performance" build - with only the case/heads bored for 94 mm P&C - with little else done.

Thank you!!

I’ve got the luxury of time so I‘ve been doing a lot of online research.

I‘m assuming the basic manual comes with a supplement for the motor provided by the engine manufacturer; in the Beck cars it looks like CB Performance is a frequent supplier but I may be getting ahead of myself.  
I may give Beck a call and see if I can order a manual to have and review as part of my research process.

Thanks again!!

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