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Finally got the 59 from JPS.  A few things need some attention, but for the most part it is a good build.  I found out that John Steele was building it for himself.  Lots of nice features.  Silver with all black interior......

Can't get the repro hubcaps to fit.  The moons go on fine....

Does anyone have a lead on ivory/bone knobs for the light switch (threaded) and the shifter? 

Now to adjust the lean/rich.  I smell like a fuel station after a drive.


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Often there is a 1/8" ID line from the filler neck for a vent  that ID is too big and allows for gas to run out on hard left turns. A simple fix is to loop the hose up to the underside of the fender wheel well.  Then, drive out the " nail " from a small pop rivet, collapse the rivet until there is just enough opening to allow a slight amount of air to pass through it.  Insert the rivet into the line near the tank neck , this reduces the vent ID  equalizing air pressure in the tank but will not permit gas to run out.

Last edited by Alan Merklin

Since you bought your car from John Steele, here is the New Car Acceptance Checklist that we came up with from past cars that have come from his shop.  Start with the safety items and then reference whatever makes sense for you, but do make sure all of the safety stuff is SAFE!

Acceptance checklist for a new Speedster/Spyder (any builder)

Note:  This list is just a beginning and doesn’t cover every optional item or accessory available from the builders.   This is only meant to get you to a safe and acceptable car before and upon delivery.

Safety Inspection


  1. Check all tie rod ends for tightness. (22 ft. lbs.)
  2. Check tie rod locking clamps for tightness. (22 ft. lbs. for clamps, 29 ft. lbs. for locknuts)
  3. Check ball joints/front hubs for no-play tightness (jack up front, bar under tire and jiggle)  Ball joint nuts should be 36 ft. lbs (10mm nuts ) or 51 ft. lbs. (12 mm nuts)
  4. Check the front wheel bearings for (a.) adequate lubricating grease and (b.) proper bearing pre-load (.001”-.003” acceptable end play).
  5. Check front axle beam mounting bolts for tightness (36 ft. lbs.)
  6. Check pitman arm nut for tightness (72 ft. lbs.)
  7. Check for max +- 1” play or less at top of steering wheel, front wheels centered.
  8. Check steering wheel hub nut and wheel adapter attach bolts/screws for tightness.
  9. Check steering column coupler and steering box mounts for tightness. (18 ft. lbs.)

10. Check ALL wheel lug nuts for proper torque (5-lug= 72 ft. lbs., 4-lug = 90 ft. lbs.) NOTE:  alloy wheels may require different torques.  Check with your builder for proper wheel lug torque settings.

11. Check spring plate bolts for tightness on rear suspension (87 ft. lbs.)

12. Check diagonal arm bolts for tightness (87 ft. lbs.)

13. Inspect rear torsion bar cover plate for tightness

14. Insure that all corners of the car sit equally

15.  No “creaking” or squeaks or clunking when fender corners are bounced – all shock absorbers should be tight.

16. Check rear wheel hub castellated nuts – torque to 260 – 275 ft. lbs.

17. Check the mount points on any anti-sway bars (if equipped) for proper tightness.


  1. Inspect all wheel brake cylinders, flexible hoses and fittings for any leakage.
  2. Check the master cylinder (pull left front wheel for easy access) for any leaks at the fittings, and/or any leaks at the push rod behind the brake pedal in the cockpit (look under the carpet for wetness).  The brake fluid reservoir should have fluid to the “Full” mark in both halves of the container.
  3. Check that the brake pedal push rod keeper is in place on the brake pedal.
  4. Make sure BOTH foot pedals are lined up equal when at rest.  (the adjustment is on the floor below the pedals)
  5. Check Brake pedal free-play – should be ½”-¾” Max travel at top of pedal.
  6. Firmly depress the brake pedal.  It should feel quite firm.

Brake Road test:

  1. Check for good stopping power – There should be no side pulling when applying brakes, but remember that these are NOT “Power assist” brakes and a bit more foot power may be required to stop.
  2. Test emergency brake when underway – there should be no side pulling when e-brake is applied. If there is, then the ebrake should be adjusted on both rear wheels.


  1. Check Horn
  2. Check all lights including brake lights
  3. Check for proper operation of directional lights and emergency flashers
  4. Check inside courtesy lights for operation


  1. Check gauge lights for proper operation (yes, some backlit gauges tend to be dim)
  2. Check all gauges for proper operation – Fuel, Temp, Pressure (if equipped) Tachometer should be smooth (these tend to fail a lot) and Speedo should be smooth, quiet and not jumpy when under way.
  3. Check fuel gauge – NOTE!  Some fuel gauges have more needle “swing” when the car is in motion than others.  Needle swing of up to ½ tank is considered “normal”.

End of Safety Items - The following should be checked as well.

Cockpit Functions

  1. Check windshield wipers
  2. Check the operation of all Dashboard switches.
  3. Check Emergency Brake operation – engage brake and release clutch in 1’st gear.  Engine should immediately stall.
  4. Check clutch pedal free play – should be 3/8” at top of pedal, adjustable at the throw-out arm on top/side of the transmission (Big Wing Nut).
  5. Gear Selection – should be able to easily engage all forward and reverse gears without “searching”
  6. Check operation of the heater/defroster controls
  7. Check operation of the A/C controls and cold output – output from the cold registers should be about 40 degrees


  1. Check fan belt free-play – push against the belt half way between pulleys – belt should deflect about ¾” and not “squeal” when engine is rev’d.  Tension is adjusted by adding/removing shims between the upper pulley halves.  Extra shims should be between the upper pulley nut and the outer pulley half.
  2. Check all fuel line connections for tightness and no leaking
  3. Check timing:  6 degrees BTDC at idle for vacuum advance distributors, 30 degrees BTDC at 3000 rpm for centrifugal advance distributors
  4. Check oil level with engine off.  Dip Stick is just to the right of the lower fan belt pulley and has lower (fill) and upper (full) embossed marks on the stick.  
  5. Remove air cleaners and check carburetor top screws for tightness – replace air cleaners
  6. Check idle speed – Should be around 800 RPM and smooth after warm-up.
  7. If you have access to an air flow meter, synchronize all four carburetor throats.
  8. Inspect engine for any oil leaks, especially at pushrod tubes (either end), sump plate, base of cylinder barrels at the case, oil pump (behind lower fan belt pulley) and at bottom of the bell housing.  A little oil wetness from behind the lower (crankshaft) pulley is considered normal.
  9. Check for oil leaks at any fittings used for an external oil filter and/or external oil cooler.  These items may be mounted almost anywhere on the car, so you’ll have to trace the hoses and see if all fittings are dry.

10. Check operation of the engine breather system if so equipped.  The Breather is a box mounted to the firewall with hoses running to the valve covers, or a box mounted to the top of the oil filer, or a can mounted to the top of the oil filler.  There should also be a hose running either down past the oil dipstick to vent below the engine, or, rather, a hose venting into the air cleaner of one or both carburetors.  There should be no leaks from this system except for the hose vented to below the engine.

11. Check for proper heater operation (if equipped).  There are several different versions of heat.  Ask the builder or previous owner how it works and make sure it is producing heat.  These cars are notorious for only producing minimal heat so don’t expect too much.

12. When idling, it is considered “normal” for there to be a small amount of valve noise (gentle clicking).  Hard knocks, raps grinding or hammer-noises is not considered “normal”.

13. Check Valve Clearance:  Steel Push rods are set to 0.000 - .002” Intake and Exhaust.  All other engines with aluminum push rods are set to .006” for BOTH intake and exhaust until you find out from your engine builder the correct spec for your engine (there are many variations on this – it’s best to talk with your builder).


  1. Inspect transmission for leaks at all seams, at side plates, at filler (side) and drain (bottom) plugs, and at wheel back plates (for axle seal leak).
  2. Inspect bottom of bell housing for oil leak – this could be caused by either a transmission input shaft seal leak or an engine flywheel end seal leak.
  3. When underway, the transmission should shift smoothly and easily into all gears with no whining or grinding.
  4. NOTE!  Reverse is often found by pushing down on the gear shift lever, moving left as far as possible and then pulling back (with the clutch depressed).  On some cars there my be a reverse lockout button on the side of the shift handle that must be pushed in, or a reverse lockout ring on the front of the gearshift lever that must be pulled up before moving the lever to “reverse”.

Cosmetic Items


  1. Check door hinge bolts for tightness
  2. Check for paint overspray on all surfaces
  3. Site along outside doors for surface waviness – they should be straight
  4. Site along body contour between engine cover and rear seat – it should not be wavy or bulbous (indicates a bubble in the fiberglass)
  5. Entire car should be free of paint cutting/polishing compound – this stuff looks like flat colored paint or off-color dull paint (or no paint) and you should be able to scrape it off with your fingernail.  It should not be left on there and should be removed by a professional paint/autobody company.
  6. Check for excessive “orange Peel” in the paint – this can be removed by color-sanding the paint, but requires a professional paint/body shop to do it.
  7. Check for “runs” in the paint – these, too, can be color-sanded out by a professional shop.
  8. Check for blemishes in the chrome everywhere.


  1. Check for professional seams in the carpets, door panels and seats
  2. Check for proper installation of carpeting and vinyl panels – most of these are glued on and sometimes let go.
  3. Check for tightness of any interior accessory – door and window handles, dash grab handle, rear view mirror(s), dash knobs, convertible top latches
  4. Check the radio (if equipped) for proper operation in all modes (bring along your iPod for an MP3 driver)
  5. Check power windows (if equipped) for proper and smooth operation.
  6. Check for smooth operation of the seats fore and aft – check operation of the recliners if so equipped.
  7. Check operation of the cup holders if so equipped.
  8. Check operation of any auxiliary power points if so equipped.
  9. Check for smooth operation of the convertible top and proper latching of the top to the windshield header – the latches should pull the top in about ¼”-3/8” only.  All snaps along the rear bulkhead (behind the rear seat) should line up with their respective snaps on top without excessive pulling/alignment.

10. Check the installation if the side windows to make sure they fit properly with no serious gaps.

Typical DMV Inspection Items

  1. Ball Joints – free play
  2. Wheel hub play – should be zero hub play on all four wheels
  3. Steering play - +- 1” left/right play at top of steering wheel
  4. All lights should be operational – including parking lights
  5. Directional Lights, brake lights, emergency flashers should work
  6. Engage emergency brake, start engine and allow to idle, engage first gear, bring engine rpms up to 2,000 and release clutch – engine should immediately stall.
  7. Wipers should work (only one speed is necessary – two speeds is a bonus)
  8. You should know where your Vehicle Inspection Number (VIN) is located:  Pan based cars have the VIN stamped into the top of the central tunnel behind the seats.  IM VIN Location:       Beck/Special Edition VIN Location:  SAS Vin Location:   VS/CMC/JPS VIN Location:  Thunder Ranch VIN location:
  9. VW-Pan-Based cars should not be subject to current emissions testing as they are usually registered as the VW VIN number which suggests that they are early VW beetles and smog test exempt.  IM and Beck cars must be registered as “replicas” to be smog exempt, while SAS cars usually are registered as year-of-manufacture and pass smog tests for that year as a Subaru.

Shipping Notes

  1. If possible and within your budget, ALWAYS SHIP IN A CLOSED CARRIER AND STIPULATE THAT YOU’LL BE ABOVE OTHER CARS.  If not, you may end up on the bottom of a 2-level truck and have brake fluid or oil drip onto your car, or have road debris, thrown from another vehicle, hit your car.  Not good.
  2. Past experience has shown that “winched on” is better than “drive on”.  Too many times we’ve seen damage caused by a driver who simply did not know the car and screwed something up or broke something.
  3. Always ask on the SOC for a list of recommended transport companies and use the ones recommended.  To not do so is at your own (and your car’s) peril.

When I taught Auto Shop for a private " At Risk Youth" facility we ordered a Speedster w/a hard top and HumBug ( VW HumVee) both as a turn key's . The HumBug was an electrical nightmare and the the doors would not close w/o racking them to clear the roll par cage , headlights to hi beam relay wired wrong, e'Brake not connected with a Rat's nest of wing stuffed under the dash . Lastly, the left quarter panel had a large imprint of clearly was a cardboard carton in the  then wet paint. This was delivered via a carrier at Carlisle and I approached John Steele about this issues and he suggested that I fix the issues and just ignored the situation . ..... The Speedster, had a poorly installed aftermarket A/C system that was cobbled together including a single chrome Chevy generator bracket that somewhat "supported" the compressor to the engine even though the compressor would flex the bracket .  This car too had serious electrical issues from day one.  The removable hardtop had a 1.25" gap at the passenger side windshield frame, leather interior had scuff marks from what appeared to be a screwdriver, paint quality was that of MAACO. We all know the Vendors that build with quality and have a great history with customer support them.

Last edited by Alan Merklin

@Gordon Nichols that's a great list...i saw it when you posted it before...thanx for posting it again....but i digress .....all of that info does not include the personality of one JOHN BOY STEELE...and all the SHORT CUTS shody wiring under dash....tail & headlights loose connectors etc.....lack of attention to details... ie: rubber gaskets on wipers installed terribly allowing a RAIN DELUGE inside interior.....and a BIG ONE...a 50 year old worn out SHIFT ROD with a EGG SHAPED TURRET....lets not even get started with the KNOW IT ALL attitude & outright angry verbal abuse towards paying customers...i could go on , but you get the idea......i'll just say....unless things have changed in the last 2 years and he has received anger management counseling & business lessons...let the buyer beware before giving this man any $$$$ could save lots of headaches & grief

@Jimmy V. posted:

Our Speedsters can get fuel smell in the cockpit from the fuel tank vent not having a hose running to the wheel well or underside of the car. The smell will be worse after filling the tank to the top. This may be your reason. As said before it is an urgent matter to find and fix the issue because of the danger of fire.

When I first bought my (very used) CMC Speedster I smelled fuel on hard left turns, especially after I filled the tank. I discovered the vent tube was draining onto the ground through a hole in passenger side frunk, so I re-routed the vent tube into the fender well and put a loop in it. This only partially solved the problem. I wound up using a one-way vent valve from a motorcycle gas cap to solve the problem. Lets air in, doesn't let fuel escape. However, I still smell a bit of gas after a ride because the float bowls on my Dellortos are open to atmosphere. There's nothing I can do about that, short of installing fuel injection ;-) 

You know, back in the days before fully enclosed Electronic Fuel Injection (that has no fuel open to the air) and when we were all running carburetors, ALL of them had the float bowls open to the outside air.  They all had the stink of gas around them.  It’s just a nature of the beast.  It taught you that some gas smells better than others.

Proper venting of the gas tank is key, along with a one-way valve in the vent line.  If you have a proper one-way valve in the line, then looping the vent hose isn’t necessary but, again, proper venting is key to minimizing gas vapors in your garage.  

Beyond that, there is still some venting of the carburetor float bowls to the air, but it is minimal (IMHO) and can be ignored by us old-school car guys, but for the rest of you who have only known fuel injection since 1982, I suppose it can be a big deal.  

I also have a recent 2018  JPS Speedster. Had a few items that needed tightening,etc. Had to rebuild the carbs. But that was fault of first owner. I am the second.

John has been very cordial and helpful. You all just have spoken the the ugly brother?

just kidding.

I also have a slight gas smell from the fuel cap. The tank is not vented.

is there a better cap available. Any suggestions?

Tim, post a picture.



I tried a 1-way valve in my vent hose to let air in but not out.

Here and probably most places, gas comes out of the underground tanks cold and then warms up in the gas tank.

When the gas warms up it expands. One time when I filled the tank quite full, the gas expanded and made the top of the tank bulge up.

After that, I took the valve out and ran the vent tube up to the top of the fender and then down.

Cut off a short piece 1.25 of steel brake line with a vac running to capture any filings , drill a hole in the filler neck 1/2" - 3/4" above the tank surface. insert the piece of line from the inside of the filler neck... the flared end will keep it in place, then a bit of JB KWIK WELD on the inside being careful not to seal off the the line.... Same for the other end .


That what I have. What is the proper way of routing that fuel line?

It goes from one carb to the other behind the shroud. It is routed under some type of brace from the back to the shroud to the firewall. Can’t tell what it is or if it come off. If it wasn’t there I could pull the line up and attach it to the back ledge. Appears I have to disconnect the fuel line somewhere and pull it through and under that brace. Of course dripping fuel.

Any suggestions? I would really like to get it away from that hot shroud.

Thank you


The shroud will not get hot enough to ignite fuel, especially in a fuel line. The danger is that chafing from vibration, or actual contact with the fan, will puncture the fuel line and spray fuel all over the engine compartment.  

The fuel line between the carbs is often run behind the shroud.  If it were my car I'd run it in front of the shroud and mount it securely with appropriate fittings.  That way I can inspect it every time I check the oil.  

The shroud will not get hot enough to ignite fuel, especially in a fuel line. The danger is that chafing from vibration, or actual contact with the fan, will puncture the fuel line and spray fuel all over the engine compartment.  

The fuel line between the carbs is often run behind the shroud.  If it were my car I'd run it in front of the shroud and mount it securely with appropriate fittings.  That way I can inspect it every time I check the oil.  

The shroud may not get hot enough to ignite, but it may(will?) get hot enough to cause vapor lock.

Or run it ON the firewall, up high where you can see it, with rubber-lined metal clamps. I ran a hard line down the center(small) tunnel in my Spyder. I put a brass fuel line T on the end and ran a metal hardline up the firewall to each carb. I have maybe a foot of rubber hose on each carb, that's it. All the rest is hard line secured with the aforementioned clamps. And the rubber hose is secured with spring clamps which will never come loose or tighten too much and damage the hose.

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