Skip to main content

All this talk of the demise of internal combustion cars along with lack of VW pans has me wondering the future of replicas based on a donor car.  I always look thru each month's new edition of RCN (ReInCARnation.  Not interested in the hi power Cobras and the like.  As others have said more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.

eZines | Rare Car Network (rcnmag.com)

I keep coming back to cars by Jim Simpson.  These aren't true replicas - they are inspired by classic cars.  A whole lot more difficult to make since the original car doesn't be come the mold plug.  He builds a steel piece and then makes a mold from that.  His Aston Martin DB series is great - also like the Ferrari inspired "tributes."  Most are done on the inexpensive/dependable Mazda MX-5/Miata donor.

Here's a great article on some Ferrari-like creations.

Reviving the Tradition of Coach Building - Simpson Design - MyCarQuest.com

These seem to be one offs - not mass produced kit cars - more bespoke coach built cars. Wonder if IM has claim to the Italia name?

Simpson Design GTB sketch for client

GTC Rear Simpson Design

The Aston Martin DB4 -

Photos courtesy of Simpson Design unless otherwise noted.

Jim Simpson's Miata-based sports cars keep the coachbuilding art alive | Hemmings

At $25k plus a Miata - they seem reasonable.  Here's like to his site.  Some cars look kit carish but most are pieces of art.  You want it fast FlyinMiata can install an LS1 engine.

SIMPSON DESIGN — Simpson Design

1957 CMC Classic Speedster (WIP)

    in Ft Walton Beach, FL

Last edited by WOLFGANG
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Carey at Special Edition has pretty much moved away completely from VW parts in his builds. The chassis is a custom tube frame and the suspension is now Honda (IIRC) based along with the brakes etc. And as the popularity of the Subaru engines becomes even more popular it won't be long before the VW isn't the base for any of the Speedsters.

I'm sure as Greg moves forward he'll look to getting away from them but if not He may eventually have to produce his own pan but that may not be that hard anyway. And there's plenty of aftermarket beams still being made that all new parts can be used in their builds.

@Robert M posted:

Carey at Special Edition has pretty much moved away completely from VW parts in his builds. The chassis is a custom tube frame and the suspension is now Honda (IIRC) based along with the brakes etc. And as the popularity of the Subaru engines becomes even more popular it won't be long before the VW isn't the base for any of the Speedsters.

I'm sure as Greg moves forward he'll look to getting away from them but if not He may eventually have to produce his own pan but that may not be that hard anyway. And there's plenty of aftermarket beams still being made that all new parts can be used in their builds.

There are several companies that make chassis for dune buggies. I'm sure an enterprising fellow could make one that worked for a Speedster without too much trouble.

@dlearl476 posted:

There are several companies that make chassis for dune buggies. I'm sure an enterprising fellow could make one that worked for a Speedster without too much trouble.

Very easy to adjust a buggy tube chassis to a speedster, a few inches in the center will work. Acme in PA , VW Store in Drums, PA and Barrett in AZ all make nice bare chassis, they all are around $2,000 plus $350 for a bare torsion housing charge. By the time you add in trailing arm, beam, disc brakes, lines hoses etc. a complete chassis ( if you do the work) is just under $5k.

@Robert M posted:

I'm sure as Greg moves forward he'll look to getting away from them but if not He may eventually have to produce his own pan but that may not be that hard anyway. And there's plenty of aftermarket beams still being made that all new parts can be used in their builds.

I talk to Greg at least a few times a year. We've had many conversations about suspensions and chassis fabrication and getting away from VW underpinnings.

He's taking a major step forward with Bruce's Spyder, it's a matter of time with the coupes and Speedsters.

@DannyP posted:

I talk to Greg at least a few times a year. We've had many conversations about suspensions and chassis fabrication and getting away from VW underpinnings.

He's taking a major step forward with Bruce's Spyder, it's a matter of time with the coupes and Speedsters.

I feel this is an exciting time for Speedster/Spyder replicas. Numerous engine options, newer and better chassis, newer and better suspensions and braking systems etc. People will be able to flog them like they want without breaking them........well maybe without breaking them. But the limits will be pushed further than ever now.

Very easy to adjust a buggy tube chassis to a speedster, a few inches in the center will work. Acme in PA , VW Store in Drums, PA and Barrett in AZ all make nice bare chassis, they all are around $2,000 plus $350 for a bare torsion housing charge. By the time you add in trailing arm, beam, disc brakes, lines hoses etc. a complete chassis ( if you do the work) is just under $5k.

Although I believe the custom chassis are an improvement over a 60+ year old VW pan, they can make it difficult to register (especially if you stick to smog/polluting air cooled engines) plus they are costly.  A lot of banged up Miata's are out there with modern engines, chassis, 6 speed transmissions and 4 wheel disk brakes - 50/50 weight distro to boot.  All for easily under $5k. Tons of aftermarket pieces (springs, shocks, anti-sway bars, turbos, super chargers, brakes) too.  Using a Subaru as a donor (like infamous SAS), where suspension, engine, trans - even wheels is good idea.  Many have registered their plastic cars as the donor vehicle - wonder if you'll see Miata and Subaru registered Speedsters/Spyders?

Image result for mazda miata nd chassisImage result for mazda miata nd chassis

Back in 60's MGA/TR3-4/AH chassis were used for FF kit cars (Avenger/Jamaica, Astra).  Not a lot of them were out there even then. Pontiac Fiero were popular for Ferrari in 80's - again not that many out there.

Note- since the Miata is light weight with plastic bumpers, aluminum hoods and front fenders, it doesn't take much to total one.  If the air bags go off, changes are good it becomes a potential donor car.  Down side is - you won't easily convert one to rear engine config!

When originally looking at speedster replicas, I was interested in a tube frame chassis. After digging into registration requirements in MN, I quickly lost interest in the tube frame. I would have to register a new tube frame build as a 2020, which means no collector plates, 6.5% tax for the initial purchase, and yearly value based registration. The registration process itself does not appear simple in MN for a new tube frame build.

Very easy to adjust a buggy tube chassis to a speedster, a few inches in the center will work. Acme in PA , VW Store in Drums, PA and Barrett in AZ all make nice bare chassis, they all are around $2,000 plus $350 for a bare torsion housing charge. By the time you add in trailing arm, beam, disc brakes, lines hoses etc. a complete chassis ( if you do the work) is just under $5k.

Barrett in AZ was the company I was talking to when I was playing with my Manx, which is why I was familiar with them and their adaptability to a Speedster body.

In the end, I found a really dry pan to cut. (My Manx had been a true Florida Dune Buggy and the pan was Swiss cheese)

I think Barrett can use the rear torsion tube and horns, retaining the S/N from a donor VW, if I'm not mistaken. During the last days of Thunder Ranch, this is what they were doing. Those cars had a nice, wide (if a bit high) seating area-- something that can accept better and more comfortable seats than an early IM/CMC or Vintage/JPS.

The further down the road I get, the more I think this "hybrid" approach might not be such a bad way to go, assuming some sort of better front suspension could be adapted. There's nothing wrong with the rear end of an IRS Beetle that couldn't be cured with some relocated trailing arms and a set of coil-overs (or with narrowed trailing arms and torsion bars)-- and adapting an A-arm front would not require a Mendeola setup, as long as you weren't dealing with a Napoleon's hat (and you wouldn't be with a fabricated frame). I'd jettison everything in front of the access plate, and build a frame from there using a ubiquitous Mustang 2 style front end.

Doing it right would eliminate the need for a traditional early IM/CMC/Vintage subframe of any kind-- the outboard rails on the pan-replacement frame could just grow, and everything (including some of the steel generally used in the subframe) could hang off them. The body could be bonded into this steel for a nice, tight setup with zero duplication for frame members.

This, coupled with wider mounting points for the front end would allow the cabin and footwell width to grow as wide as those in a Beck or tube-frame IM.

Guys in states with tough replica laws could still register them as VWs, and guys in SEMA states could use the MSO for the bodies to register them as a '57 (or whatever) replica. It'd be win/win.

It's a thought, anyhow.

Last edited by Stan Galat

The torsion tube does have the VIN number, right?

If you're going coilovers in back, you can do the same thing 911 owners do, they bolt on a heim joint plate for a torsion bar cover, then fabricate trailing arms and strengthen the shock towers to support the car's weight. Simple triangulation(like a Kafer bar) can really stiffen up the rear end.

I like Stan's front end idea, but I'd go with a Miata front end rather than the Mustang II. Ford Pinto DNA is WAY worse than VW, IMHO.

@DannyP posted:

If you're going coilovers in back, you can do the same thing 911 owners do, they bolt on a heim joint plate for a torsion bar cover, then fabricate trailing arms and strengthen the shock towers to support the car's weight. Simple triangulation(like a Kafer bar) can really stiffen up the rear end.

Speaking of which, after pouring over my buddy's new Formula Vee a week ago, I'm wondering why nobody has done this on a Spyder/Speedster rear end. Looks simple as pie. I was thinking someone like SwayAway would be all over this.

Sems like a no-brainier to deal with the lack of lighter-than-22mm torsion bars for lighter than VW OEM cars

Last edited by dlearl476

Well, being as I have a Vintage Spyder, I already have coilovers in back, but it is still a swing axle. They are QA1 Proma-Star,10-14", 275 lb./inch springs.

The Vintage uses a heim joint at the front, trailing arms are fabricated steel tube.

The best part is, no torsion tube to get in the way of my dry sump pump, and I can easily adjust the pre-load on scales.

Last edited by DannyP
@DannyP posted:

Well, being as I have a Vintage Spyder, I already have coilovers in back, but it is still a swing axle. They are QA1 Proma-Star,10-14", 275 lb./inch springs.

The Vintage uses a heim joint at the front, trailing arms are fabricated steel tube.

The best part is, no torsion tube to get in the way of my dry sump pump, and I can easily adjust the pre-load on scales.

I found this online. Looks pretty simple. So simple, in fact, that I'm going to buy the spring plate caps to heim joint bits and some cro-moly tubing and take them to a pro welder I know and see what we can come up with.

imageimage

Thanks for posting your shock info, I was going to pm you for it. Next time you have your clamshell up, can you take a few pictures for me?  

Attachments

Images (2)
  • image
  • image

Wolfgang is correct on the VW VIN location, and we designed our new speedster chassis to be able to use the torsion tube and first 12" of the tunnel so it can retain this VIN number if needed.  Eventually I'll post more pics and info on the new Speedster chassis, and DStu posted pics of  his recently delivered, but in short it's dual a-arm front suspension on adjustable coil overs and rack and pinion steering with an IRS rear.

As for the Spyder, you likely won't see a modification to the Beck Spyder chassis.  We've done the math and mock up and to get an a-arm at a length that would be acceptable to me, you'd have to do a complete chassis change making the front frame rails too close together to have a comfortable foot box, otherwise the a-arms are too short.  So we just improved on the front beam and have been using the Airkewld front beam with Delrin inserts for several years now.  It got us away from junk China parts and works very well.

@chines1 posted:

Wolfgang is correct on the VW VIN location, and we designed our new speedster chassis to be able to use the torsion tube and first 12" of the tunnel so it can retain this VIN number if needed.  Eventually I'll post more pics and info on the new Speedster chassis, and DStu posted pics of  his recently delivered, but in short it's dual a-arm front suspension on adjustable coil overs and rack and pinion steering with an IRS rear.

As for the Spyder, you likely won't see a modification to the Beck Spyder chassis.  We've done the math and mock up and to get an a-arm at a length that would be acceptable to me, you'd have to do a complete chassis change making the front frame rails too close together to have a comfortable foot box, otherwise the a-arms are too short.  So we just improved on the front beam and have been using the Airkewld front beam with Delrin inserts for several years now.  It got us away from junk China parts and works very well.

You're a brilliant man, Carey. This is exactly what I was thinking of when I was brainstorming yesterday. Of course you are already ahead of the game.

Chuck's new front end is a much more elegant design than what I had in mind, but it accomplishes the same thing-- a modern suspension and a wide footbox. The Achilles heel of the pan is the ridiculously narrow mounting points on the front, and the steering box arrangement. A rack and pinion and some wider mounting points improve the beam cars dramatically-- but this is last generation Beck (and my car). I've got wider mounting points, a Golf steering rack, and Konis. It was about as good as it could get in 2005, but we've clearly moved past that.

This used to bum me out, but I think there are ways to improve the beam to make it a lot better.

Regarding the beam improvements, I've actually been thinking about something I'd like to throw out there. An Airkewld beam is available bare, and Red 9 in England sells a coil-over setup for beams (it's similar to an air-ride beam with through-rods, etc., but uses coil-overs instead of air-shocks or an airbag). The Airkewld beam shock-towers are certainly robust enough to carry the front end load (a German, Brazillian, or Chinese beam isn't, IMHO). There's nothing magic about Red 9's kit, and I think there are plenty of places to get everything needed domestically (rather than from England during COVID).

In your opinion, is there anything to be gained in doing this, as opposed to the traditional beam adjusters, shocks, lowering spindles, etc.?

It seems like at a minimum, ride height could be adjusted independently of spring rate. At a maximum, it could be pretty sweet.

I've done a few custom Beetles with the Airkewld front beam and Spax coil-overs (I believe this is the same brand sold by Red9) and I felt it was an improvement over the stock torsion bars, and as you mentioned you can play with the left to right height, play with spring rates and play with dampening and compression numbers.  The stock torsion bars were replaced with a large through rod with flat bearings on each end to hold the control arms in place.  It was a pretty easy swap too.  I don't see why it would be any different in a speedster/spyder but I didn't push the limits on the Beetle either, so I can't say from experience if there are any issues "at the ragged edge", BUT I would imagine that could all be dialed out with the shock/spring specs, plus if you wanted to get real technical you could use progressive rate springs also.

@dlearl476 posted:

I found this online. Looks pretty simple. So simple, in fact, that I'm going to buy the spring plate caps to heim joint bits and some cro-moly tubing and take them to a pro welder I know and see what we can come up with.

Thanks for posting your shock info, I was going to pm you for it. Next time you have your clamshell up, can you take a few pictures for me?  

Dave, I have an extra set of Vintage trailing arms, would you be interested? Removes at least some of the fabrication work. Then you'd just need to re-engineer the Beck chassis to carry weight from the upper shock mounts. The lower end of the shocks are slightly repositioned from stock VW and Beck.

The heim joints make it easy to adjust rear toe-in.

The shocks are QA1 Proma-Star DS-402, and a DS-401. One comes with busings both ends, the other has heim joints. You simply swap them so the bushings are on top and the heims are on the trailing arm end. I run them with the adjustable spring perch up, makes scaling easy.

The DS shocks have one knob which adjusts compression and rebound at the same time. They sell a DD version with two separate knobs for about $50-60 more per shock. I've found the single knob to be perfect, the shocks are set right around the middle of their range.

I'll post some pictures later today.

I read a comment above about stock torsion bars in the rear of a Spyder and just wanted to clarify that Spyder rear torsion bars are NOT stock 22mm, in fact they are 25mm aircooled and 27mm watercooled due to the longer length of the spring plate.  

This was a calculation made by VW Brazil engineers (aircooled) and then modified for the slight weight increase of the Suby cars.

Many people don't know this, but when dad and Chuck started manufacturing in Brazil, they had to go through rigorous testing before VW would agree to sell us parts directly from the factory.  We had to build a test vehicle and VW spent several weeks testing aero, brakes, suspension, etc...

As for the single shear lower shock bolt question, thats why i mentioned not having tested it on a Speedster/Spyder.  On a daily driven Beetle they've held up fine (gong on 5-6 years now Id guess) but Spyders are driven MUCH harder than a lowered Beetle could be...

@LI-Rick posted:

I'm not sure I like the idea of all the forces of the front suspension being carried by the lower shock mount.  That is just a stud hanging out there in single shear. Any thoughts on this?

2203-6T

I think it's a valid concern, but we're limited by the arrangement as long as it's the beam we're working with.

If one is satisfied with how the beam works in a stock(ish) configuration, then there's be no need to go further. If not, then there has to be another recourse besides bolting in a Mendeola or Red 9 A-arm front end, because there are problems unrelated to cost with both.

It may well be that like a lot of really expensive things I've tried, it won't make anything any better-- but nobody will ever know until somebody tries, and the idea seems to have more pros than cons, at least to my way of thinking.

Add Reply

Post Content
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×
×