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Hi, total newbie here. I am relatively large guy, but I really love the 550 Spyder.
Am I the only one that has thought about modifying a Spyder to fit a 6’1” 275lb person??

I have been a Motorsports engineer for 40 years. Im sure a motivated group could sort it out. In my earlier years I raced Formula cars

I would like to see if this idea gains traction   If you’re interested in talking about it, please  reply with your thoughts.
I’m  sorry to all the purists, who may want to plug their ears and close their eyes.
I just want to have a sports car for tool around or maybe an X-Cross or two.

hope to hear from you

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Single seat 550 replica was done a couple years ago for SEMA. Turbo Subie, interior decorating not to everyone's taste.

6'1" is not too tall for a Spyder. What you may require is a custom seat, custom fitted.

I'm somewhat compact of build so take this for what it's worth, but my understanding of the large man problem in 550 Spyders is as follows:

1. the cockpit depth its too shallow to allow very tall drivers to get their faces behind the windscreen; and

2. many guys today refuse to understand that these cars never actually afforded a behind-the-windscreen experience in-period.

As a result, some long-torso'd men accustomed to driving panel vans and pickup trucks of the modern era feel rather like they're sitting atop a child's Radio Flyer wagon when ensconced within the welcoming confines of the 550. They can't get used to it.

The enlightened, however, are fine with it.

The width of the driver's area is generally OK for most, even wide guys, so long as the seat is not too narrow and/or radically bolstered. The passenger seat, not necessarily so much.

The other problem is getting in and out which, owing to the general delicateness of the sills and the floors outside of the frame rails, requires enough arm strength to do a semi dip. Putting the seat in the middle may or may not obviate this requirement.

Thank you for your reply. I realized I left out a lot of my ideas.
my problem is I have a long torso and relatively short legs. So my legs crash into the wheel. I could always get a smaller wheel.
mad far as wind hitting my face, that’s exactly what I want. I’ve races in all kinds of open wheel cars. That’s why they make sunglasses.

I wasn’t thinking of putting the seat dead center but shifting the toward the c/l. Enough for me to get in and out and obviously comfortable while driving. And if I wanted to I would maybe get a cup holder out of the deal, lol.
can move the pedals forward and a little bit toward the center. I’m thinking about putting a pedal box from Wilwood. It’s made for race cars but it makes everything the way you want it to be.
if you can find any pictures of the SIMA show that would be great.
thanks for your input!

OMG! That car is amazing! I could only hope to build a car to that level of fit and finish. There is a lot of information and the craftsmanship is overwhelming.

thank you for forwarding that link.
im interested in seeing how many people respond to this post. If we get enough people interested in doing something similar to that we might be able to do a similar build with support from all the people involved.
thank you for the great information.
If not at least I know it can be done.
cheers,

Brad

I have seen that kit during my many searches. I am definitely looking for a mid engine car. To the point where I’ve considered converting a Karmann Ghia convertible to mid engine
I am not against the rear engine kit. For most people who don’t plan on driving at the limit. IE, track days, auto X, and fast country roads.
which is my goal

the Perry is very nice ,and I say to each his own.

Greg Leach at Vintage Motorcars did some really cool fab work on that one. Some of the style choices aren't for me.

My first Spyder was a 2002, my current one is  from 2016. The fit and finish of the new body is impressive, they used to be decent(still was better than a lot of them).

You can step right on the fiberglass outside the frame rails on a Vintage. I've been doing that for 20 years(I weigh 225).

With a smaller steering wheel,  you may be able to tilt the seat back to accommodate a longer torso. It is possible to modify the seat to lower it as much as allowable. You might even be able to lower the floor skin under the driver an inch.

I'd rather not drive a Spyder than have a PerryD. They just look WRONG. And from every angle.

I also sent you a PM.

Ok guys, I dug myself into a rabbit hole, with PMs  

obviously after seeing the SEMA center seat, which was awesome, I’m going to carry on with my project. Without all the gold and leather  

im back and have many questions.

do you use both front torsion springs or do you take one spring out and run an ARB in it’s place? The single torsion spring is what we run in FV race cars.
what bolt pattern do you run on wheels/ hubs, and what size wheels do you run?

do you run the stock steering box, or a rack and pinion setup? Has anyone ever tried to cut the steering arm off of the spindle and welding a 3/8” piece of plate steel so you can reduce the Ackerman and it can make the steering quicker?

sorry for the shotgun approach. These are things that are floating around in my feeble brain.
Cheers

Brad

Brad, most of us don't use drop spindles. Most use wide5 wheels, the Vintage 190s look great(better than steelies and much lighter). Usually 4.5" front and 5.5" rear. The adjustable beam can get you right where you want to be height-wise.

The sticky tire of today is Vredestein Sprint Classic, 175/70R15 and 185/70R15 in the back. If you go for more touring type tires, 185/65R15 will fit up front and either 195/60 or 205/60 out back. I have the latter sizes in Vred Sportrac5, which are now discontinued.

We use two spring packs, the front of the car weighs 700 pounds or so, about 800 in the back. It's about 1500 all-up, weight distribution is about 45/55 so my axle weights are approximate. It's a little lighter than a Beetle, but the front end of the Spyder weighs about the same as in a Beetle, with its rearward weight bias. I know some guys remove some leaves in one tube, but I like the full spring rate.

The beam is welded in on Spyders, and the frame rails go just inside the shock towers. Makes it difficult to use a stock Beetle anti-sway bar. I fabricated one using a 911 through-body 16mm bar and some 3/8" steel lever arms. I welded bushing mounts to the front of the beam, then used 10mm heims for sway bar links onto the shock bolts(extended).

I guess you could use an off-road quick steer bracket or make your own. Do you need more or less Ackerman with the 83" wheelbase vs. the Beetle of 94.5"? I find the steering a bit slow for autocross, but it's fine on the road(even TWISTY ones) or the track. The effort is medium and I'd keep it close to that. If you drive HARD(we call it hooning) all day you'll be tired. But it's a good tired...

There is a kit available from CSP that uses a VW Polo rack and mounts it to a beam. I had one but elected not to use it and instead have a stock(and properly adjusted) steering box.

As long as we're talking suspension and stuff, I chose a 2" narrowed beam(you'll need shortened tie-rods too). I have Airkewld brakes, which are billet alu hubs, drilled solid rotors and Wilwood 4-pot Dyna-Lite calipers and street/track pads. But, they are 3/4" or 7/8" wider per side than stock. You need that inch back for tire/fender clearance.

Out back the brakes are zero track increase, hubs and rotors the same construction from Airkewld, and calipers are single piston with mechanical e-brake cable. These brakes have NEVER faded on me, even going into Big Bend(Lime Rock) repeatedly with 500 pounds of driver and instructor on board.

Becks are great cars, but I have a Vintage. I like the frame design and the ability to corner weight the car easily, as it uses coilover shocks in the rear. I had thought of converting to zero-roll but I'm quite happy with the QA1 double adjustable shocks I have. I run 275 pound springs(Greg usually runs 250 I think on custom Bilsteins). I also like having no torsion bars in the back, makes engine R&R easier. To prevent the wheels from going into positive camber, I have a 2" wide nylon droop strap on each rear shock.

20220708_134929Resized_20220708_135015

This is mine. Feel free to keep the questions coming.

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Last edited by DannyP

As far is ai Know the center steer has only been done once, to the SEMA car referenced above.  There isn't much to gain from this mod, unless you just want the look.  In fact, if you wanted to add even more recess to the firewall behind the driver seat only for additional room, the center would be the worts spot to do so on an aircooled, as that is the place the motor is closest tot he firewall.  Subaru is also closer at that spot, but not as bad as aircooled since the alternator is offset further forward and centered.

As for pedals, we use Wildwood pedals a as standard so I am intimately familiar with them in a Spyder.  You "could" move the pedals forward slightly, BUT that would require custom cylinders (like a dual single cylinder Wildwood set up)  There is no room for the stock cylinder to move forward.  Moving them more inboard would require modifying the gas tank support panel as well as the bottom of the gas tank as it hangs down to the same height as the pedals and moving inboard there wouldn't allow your feet on the pedals without interference.  You'll find the same issue with a center mount steer, you lose several inches of height at the center of the car. You'd also have to delete the center tunnel, which is structural, however we've deleted several over the years and it had little effect if done properly.

I did see someone )probably Danny) replied about front torsion bars, but I'll ad that we do run a short stack in the upper (remove all the small leaves) which soften it up a little.  If he mentioned that already I missed it.

My suggestion would be to find someone close to you or visit one of us who manufacture, and sit in a car.  As small as it seems, once in it there is a lot more room left to right than expected and I just don't see any other gains from moving the seating position.  Just my $0.02

@BRD Motorsports wrote- " Has anyone ever tried to cut the steering arm off of the spindle and welding a 3/8” piece of plate steel so you can reduce the Ackerman and it can make the steering quicker?"

I've never seen anyone do that, but there is a 'quick steer' kit (1" extension) that bolts to the drop arm (that's what VW calls it- I looked it up in the Late Type 1 Bentley manual!) attached to the steering box. It cuts steering by a full turn- from 2½ to 1½ turns lock to lock.  A friend ran 1 on his street bug which he autocrossed regularly ( once upon a time), and liked it.                                                                                                    the quick steer kit-

quick steer kit

I took a slightly different approach, taking 2 drop arms, cutting them in the middle (offset) so overall length was ¾" longer and welding them together.  Note that being a cast part, the 2 pieces had to be preheated, welded with the correct rod and then temp controlled as it cooled so it didn't crack.  I'm surprised I don't have a picture of it.  Hope this helps.  Al

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“Modifying?” I’m 6’2” 275 lbs w/ 32” inseam and I fit in my Gen 1 Beck Spyder fine. Sure, I look like a monkey/football while driving it, but I can’t see that.

(I imagine Hoss in a Perry looked very similar)



@chines1 posted:

As small as it seems, once in it there is a lot more room left to right than expected and I just don't see any other gains from moving the seating position.  Just my $0.02

I think you don’t “get in” a Spyder so much as “put one on,” like a pair of Italian leather driving gloves.

Last edited by dlearl476
@edsnova posted:

I would not AutoX or hillclimb with those lugs.

I wouldn’t drive to get a pop with those lugs. Especially if I had $2,000-$3,000 custom Augment wheels. And it’s right around the corner from where I store my Beck.



I don’t get it. Build a $250-$300K SEMA car and scrimp on a set of $20 lengthened studs from eBay. I guess he could get them in gold. (Although it didn’t seem to bother him when he used silver OEM door handles.)

Last edited by dlearl476

Ok guys, I dug myself into a rabbit hole, with PMs  

obviously after seeing the SEMA center seat, which was awesome, I’m going to carry on with my project. Without all the gold and leather  

im back and have many questions.

do you use both front torsion springs or do you take one spring out and run an ARB in it’s place? The single torsion spring is what we run in FV race cars.
what bolt pattern do you run on wheels/ hubs, and what size wheels do you run?

do you run the stock steering box, or a rack and pinion setup? Has anyone ever tried to cut the steering arm off of the spindle and welding a 3/8” piece of plate steel so you can reduce the Ackerman and it can make the steering quicker?

sorry for the shotgun approach. These are things that are floating around in my feeble brain.
Cheers

Brad

There's a lot of chatter on here, especially over the past couple years, about how to "fix" the Spyders' suspension. One guy actually commissioned a car with an updated A-arm front suspension. It did not, to my recollection, happen. @DannyP has worked out in his head a viable IRS system for the Vintage frame. Some others have built something like it. Use the search function (the magnifying glass icon, three steps left of your handle on the menu bar above) to dive deeper down this rabbit hole.

For what you want to do, and for your racing experience, these ideas might bear fruit.

FWIW my car (Beck style frame) came with just the 4 large torsion leaves in the top tube and the full pack in the bottom. I modded a stock Bug sway bar to work, and it does! The ride's not too harsh and it handles pretty nice...driven in moderation on public roads.

Danny's car is certainly much better: he runs wider front tires, better brakes, a thicker bar and the full spring pack. And he has tracked it. You'd do well to follow his lead in terms of making a Spyder replica into a viable track toy.

The thing is though:

If your real agenda is to go fast, and if by going fast you mean "beat those other mother****ers," the chassis in question—even the somewhat updated Vintage chassis—won't cut it. A longer Pittman arm will maybe let you turn in better on a short course, but it won't change the fact of your 1930s-issue trailing arm suspension.

You have operated real race cars on race tracks. You know what "Ackerman" means. I'm not telling you any secrets, right?

If you just want to have a blast, set your car up something like Danny's, stuff a 200-ish horse, high-revving Type 1 or Subaru NA in it, play around with the gear ratios and see what you can do. If you want to win races.... I'm guessing you'll need a turbo Suby and a lot of engineering and welding skills. And even then you're still probably not going to beat the Exocet guys.

Well guys the deal for the 550 fell through, I’ll just have to keep looking. Just a few items I would like to share.
I really just wanted to have fun, and building a better mouse trap has been my job for 40 years.
the only reason I was going single seat, is because I am tall and significantly overweight.

there was a Beck 550 that had proper A-arms and coil overs. I was working at the shop at the time and built the IRS. it was a hopeless endeavor, as the frame was super soft. But that was when I fell in love with the car.

the one thing I would like to do now is to help guys with swing axle gear boxes. There is nothing truly wrong with them, they just have limitations.
the camber curve is fixed and the ride height is directly linked to camber. There is a simple inexpensive and relatively easy. Instead of individual straps, use 3/16 stainless wire rope (cable) 2 stainless stud end crimped 3/16”wire-5/16” fine. 2 5/16” female rod ends and 2 stainless sheaves (pulleys).
1. rough measurement from bottom of left damper up to a point where one pulley will clear everything. Across to the the next pulley on the right side, then down to the right bottom damper.
2. mount the pulleys weld or bolt.
3. make rod end bottom mount
3. crimp one stud end on one end of the cable

4. run the cable end in the bottom damper Mount, run over pulleys and down to the right bottom.
5. at ride height/camber angle desired pull the cable taut and Final Cut the cable. When you see how long the threads are you’ll see that you can cut it 1-2” longer. And grind the threads down as to bottom out the rod end.
6. Set droop limiter to maintain 0camber  

now when the car rolls as the left damper compresses and the right can droop. Less wheel spin, more grip. It’s a safety thing that lets your swing axle live on.
Check it out search web for “non zero roll”

I know this was unsolicited information. And I hope I haven’t pissed anyone off.
Cheers,

Brad

Obviously price is relative to content. I have an engine Transmission and front beam. Brakes, suspension etc. I plan to build. I’m looking for the most affordable kit possible. I never planned to go fully center seat. As I said in my first post, I just need to be able to put a 20” seat in it. This is not going to be a show car. So I suppose you would say the absolute least expensive car possible. But also I’ll pay for more useful stuff. The frame on the Beck is a real flexible and I know there are other better options out there. But I’m not building a race car.
If you could post or PM pics and prices, I will consider any options.
thanks.
BTW, do I have to be a member to post pictures? If not I could use guidance.

@dlearl476 posted:

“Modifying?” I’m 6’2” 275 lbs w/ 32” inseam and I fit in my Gen 1 Beck Spyder fine. Sure, I look like a monkey/football while driving it, but I can’t see that.

(I imagine Hoss in a Perry looked very similar)



I think you don’t “get in” a Spyder so much as “put one on,” like a pair of Italian leather driving gloves.

https://www.instagram.com/reel...MW1jZG9jZnBwNHY1cw==

Super cool engineering, Brad. I guess you found the way to post. But in case anyone has not:

1. (Your photo is on the web): Right click the photo, choose "Copy Image Address," come to your post here and click the mountain-sun icon to the right of the broken link icon, fifth thing across from the left after "formats" at the top of your reply window. Paste the url you just copied in the box where it says "source" and click OK.

Screen Shot 2024-02-27 at 9.08.06 PM

2. (Your photo is on your computer): Go to the bottom of your "Add reply" window and click on Add Attachments. When the box pops up click "choose files" and navigate in the box to your picture file, on your computer, and click it. That uploads the shot. After that, click the little checkbox that reads "Insert all images and videos into post (Large Size)"

And done.

—oh...one more thing, re the "soft" Beck ladder frame. The factory had a fix for the initial cars' flexibility, and it would work just as well on one of Chuck's chassis:

Vintage vs Beck frames

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Last edited by edsnova

Thanks for the likes.
As far as looking for a Speedster, I’ll throw some spaghetti on the wall and see if any of it sticks.
I would also consider a 356 Speedster wide body. If anyone knows of a project car that has been sitting in someone’s garage for years, and they would like it to go to a good home.
I have been told they are easier to get in and out of. I just need to remove the stock seats and make room for my 22” seat.
thanks again for all of the support on my quest!

Cheers,

Brad

Obviously price is relative to content. I have an engine Transmission and front beam. Brakes, suspension etc. I plan to build. I’m looking for the most affordable kit possible. I never planned to go fully center seat. As I said in my first post, I just need to be able to put a 20” seat in it. This is not going to be a show car. So I suppose you would say the absolute least expensive car possible. But also I’ll pay for more useful stuff. The frame on the Beck is a real flexible and I know there are other better options out there. But I’m not building a race car.
If you could post or PM pics and prices, I will consider any options.
thanks.
BTW, do I have to be a member to post pictures? If not I could use guidance.

Nothing I have coming up sounds like it will fit the bill for you, but we get project cars all the timed I've had a few that would have been perfect so I'll let you know if we come across any.

As for the soft frame, as far as I know we're the only company that has gone through actual torsional rigidity testing (in more than one country in fact).  I'd have to dig through the old files  for exact numbers, but I do recall the test fail point being 4000Nm per degree and we passed by 3-4x.  I'm certainly not saying there isn't room for improvement or that it can't be made stiffer/better.  Just that in 40 years we haven't seen the occasion to do so, and I've put 300+hp through many of our Spyders.  The limiting factor there is simply being able to put the power down.  With a max tire width of 205 with little weight on it, you can only hold so much power regardless.

Totally understand, and 99% of the time stiffness isn’t an issue. Almost all FVs are built on 2”x4” tubing and are not real stiff. But they are still a ton of fun to drive.
as someone said I’m not trying to build a race car.
I was just commenting on the guy that wanted IRS. (That was almost 40 years ago) didn’t bear fruit. But he was back the following year for IFS. I suspect he was trying to build the best Speedster. And I can almost guarantee that a properly set up swing axle with a dynamic droop limiter and a totally sorted front beam, they would be equally fun to drive, just as fast, and $20,000 less expensive.
As far as it goes for my build, I’m not in any hurry. I would be willing to look at any dusty old garage find. Time is what I have, money, not so much…

thank you so much for your help.
If you happen to run across anything, please feel free to PM me.
Cheers

Brad

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