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Hi all, about 10 months ago I placed my deposit for a Beck Speedster, and this week got an email that my chassis is complete and ready to go.  I am beyond excited.

This is my first foray into the hobby, and at Carey’s invitation I am heading to the shop in a few weeks for a visit and to spec the car in person.

I’d love to get some counsel from this community and learn from everyone’s experience with their own builds.

What do you wish you would have added/subtracted from your cars if you could do it all over again?  Any must-have options?  Suggestions/resources where I should be looking to help make good choices on wheels, mirrors, steering wheel, etc, etc?

Thanks so much, I’m really looking forward to everyone’s ideas and suggestions.

Sam

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Are you going with an air cooled VW based engine or a Subaru water cooled engine?. I have owned Speedsters powered by both and my vote is Suby power all the way. No worries about over heating and you get almost 100% dependability. An actual turn the key and drive experience.  You also get triple the HP and torque as compared to most VW Type 1 drivetrains. If you plan on driving  your Speedster a considerable amount then this an option to seriously consider.  If I am not mistaken Carey has said that the majority of their new builds are currently Suby powered. Congrats on your new Speedster build. Have fun during the process and keep us informed as to your choices and progress.Speedster Conversion 38speedster12

 

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Last edited by Jimmy V.
Jimmy V. posted:

Are you going with an air cooled VW based engine or a Subaru water cooled engine?. I have owned Speedsters powered by both and my vote is Suby power all the way. No worries about over heating and you get almost 100% dependability. An actual turn the key and drive experience.  You also get triple the HP and torque as compared to most VW Type 1 drivetrains. If you plan on driving  your Speedster a considerable amount then this an option to seriously consider.  If I am not mistaken Carey has said that the majority of their new builds are currently Suby powered. Congrats on your new Speedster build. Have fun during the process and keep us informed as to your choices and progress.Speedster Conversion 38speedster12

 

Thanks Jimmy, so happy to have discovered this community along the way.

Acknowledging that I agree with everything you said about the merits of the Suby option, I’m going with air cooled.  Part of the reason I pulled the trigger on this project is because I’m trying to capture a feeling, and I think part of the “vintage” driving experience is the sound.  You can’t fake the echo of carbs and I was worried the modern, water cooled running noise would take me out of the vintage experience behind the wheel.

I know I’m asking for more maintenance and “dialing it in” in my future, but practicality wasn’t really part of the deal when I wrote the check...

You didn't mention any thing specifically so I'll just throw this out there- go discs all around so the thing will always stop. If you're thinking of 5x205 mm bolt pattern wheels spend the few extra dollars and go with the aluminum Vintage 190's- they are so worth it. If you come from somewhere with real seasons, talk to Carey about seat heaters to extend your driving season.

@Sam Brown wrote- "I know I’m asking for more maintenance and “dialing it in” in my future, but practicality wasn’t really part of the deal when I wrote the check..."

A word of advice- if you're not already somewhat familiar with VW aircooled engines,  not a tinkerer, not prepared to spend time learning about oil changes, valve/timing/carburetor adjustments and a mechanic will be doing the maintenance on you car- call Carey first thing Monday morning and have the conversation about putting Subaru power in your car. I'm not trying to be difficult or insulting- I want your ownership of this car to be successful/enjoyable and you to own this car for a long time, but for too many people the romantic visions of ownership- jumping in at a moment's notice and driving off here and there with the wind in the hair (or scalp, as the case may be) doesn't meet the reality- the car sitting more than it's driven because, being aircooled, it's almost constantly in need of tweeking. The VW Beetle aircooled engine is technology from 60-70 years ago (when the automotive world was barely out of it's infancy), requires a lot of maintenance by today's standards, hotrodded engines need to be monitored more closely than normal and if you don't know what to expect it could ruin the experience.

Please don't take this the wrong way- I want you to enjoy your car and be a contributing member here for a long time. Al

Last edited by ALB

Yoda (ALB) is correct.  You live in DC Metro area - you'll want heat and air conditioning (sitting on I495/270 in traffic).  Water-cooled is truly the way to go.  Beck can build an exhaust that will give you the air-cooled exhaust sound (close to square exhaust ports of the 356 even) - without leaving a drippy oil trail.  Plus I believe it will maintain its value and be more desirable in the future.  No frequent oil changes or valve adjustments - no overheating.  

ALB posted:

You didn't mention any thing specifically so I'll just throw this out there- go discs all around so the thing will always stop. If you're thinking of 5x205 mm bolt pattern wheels spend the few extra dollars and go with the aluminum Vintage 190's- they are so worth it. If you come from somewhere with real seasons, talk to Carey about seat heaters to extend your driving season.

@Sam Brown wrote- "I know I’m asking for more maintenance and “dialing it in” in my future, but practicality wasn’t really part of the deal when I wrote the check..."

A word of advice- if you're not already somewhat familiar with VW aircooled engines,  not a tinkerer, not prepared to spend time learning about oil changes, valve/timing/carburetor adjustments and a mechanic will be doing the maintenance on you car- call Carey first thing Monday morning and have the conversation about putting Subaru power in your car. I'm not trying to be difficult or insulting- I want your ownership of this car to be successful/enjoyable and you to own this car for a long time, but for too many people the romantic visions of ownership- jumping in at a moment's notice and driving off here and there with the wind in the hair (or scalp, as the case may be) doesn't meet the reality- the car sitting more than it's driven because, being aircooled, it's almost constantly in need of tweeking. The VW Beetle aircooled engine is technology from 60-70 years ago (when the automotive world was barely out of it's infancy), requires a lot of maintenance by today's standards, hotrodded engines need to be monitored more closely than normal and if you don't know what to expect it could ruin the experience.

Please don't take this the wrong way- I want you to enjoy your car and be a contributing member here for a long time. Al

Thanks Al, I had been thinking about the 5x205’s, but also baby moon’s, so wasn't sure it was really necessary, but I’m going to file this away under “don’t regret it later.”  And seat heaters are also on my mind.  I live in MD, and this will hopefully get me an extra month on both sides of top-down season.  I’d say these are more likely than not.

I don’t take any offense by your push to Subaru power.  But I’m decided and not going back.  This car is a hobby and learning how to manage timing, and all the rest, is part of that hobby.  A buddy of mine keeps his inherited Austin Healey 3000 in my garage (I’m lucky enough to have the space) and he drives it frequently.  I feel like I’ve had a front row seat to what it means to care for an air cooled engine.  I am not a mechanic and it’s gonna be a lot to learn, but I’m an enthusiastic student.

 

I do have to say there are more than a few very nice Speedsters that are bought new and sold some years later with less than 1000 miles on them , many with less than 500 miles. Without fail they are all aircooled VW powered. They are offered with low miles  because the owners found the driving experience lacking their expectation and sold them. I would recommend driving a Speedster with both drivetrains before dropping $40k . The time to do so will be well worth it. I have been an aircooled guy for over 35 years and was happy to switch to the modern fuel injected technology and drivable power that  encourages me to drive my Speedster many thousands of miles with a giant smile on my face as I zip around town and on the interstate with 180hp and 160ft/lbs of Suby torque on tap. The closest thing you will get to that with an aircooled  VW based engine will cost as much or more and will be in most cases fragile, finicky and in the end break your heart and drain your wallet. Been there and done that.

That said. I hope you enjoy your choice without regret, as there are many on this site that love the vintage aircooled approach. I hope you become one of them in the end.

Last edited by Jimmy V.

Well if you listen to many of the comments you need to abort the Beck Speedster and buy a mid 90s 911 targa or cabriolet  .heated seats power windows cruise control ect .Sitting in traffic on495 or any other interstate is no fun regardless of car engine . My point is I wanted a replica of a speedster through and through You have selected in my opinion the best manufacture. To me the air cooled motors represent what Porsches have always been especially in the speedster era my two cents I could not stand by and read the comments  in devaluating the air cooled cars . option 3  get a Subaru Forrester  LOL I agree part of the hobby is caring for your car valve adjustments changing oil and filters all fun .and of course if you have the money to purchase a Beck you have the money to take it to the local VW guru and have theses things done .

No offense to anyone just my two Cents 

Pete

Sam, if you go air cooled and get it sorted out, you should be able to use it without major headaches. I use mine as almost a daily driver in any weather above 50 with the top down, having to change the oil and valve adjustments are second nature after awhile, I've never been stranded, but can work on it if needed not being overly complicated with electrical things. Changed the transmission to a more friendly highway gearing and changed rear tire size so highway  @ 70mph is now 2800 rpm and no overheating, very rarely if ever have to put a wrench to it. Good luck with whatever you decide..

I've had, like others, both air cooled and water cooled versions of Porsche replicas and one CMC Gazelle. While satisfied with the air cool engines I was never happy with the high-revs needed to move out, valve rattle & adjustments, carburetor sync'ing and oil stained garage floors. The lack of A/C while living in Florida made stop and go traffic nearly unbearable.  The main appeal of 356 based replicas is appearance and the attention they attract. Secondary to appearance are comfort and performance. Depending where, when and how long a person drives, A/C and comfortable seats need to considered. A long cruise in sweltering weather and on unforgiving seats can soon turn your car into a "garage queen". Last comment on air-cooled engines, unless one installs an actual Porsche engine with available OEM parts, finding air-cooled VW mechanics and genuine OEM parts might be more difficult than anticipated. There's no need to go into the poor quality of the Chinese replacement parts. As far as the sound of carburetors sucking air, I've seen them installed on Subys.  Test drive before you decide...

I'm just saying

Pete Ortiz posted:

Well if you listen to many of the comments you need to abort the Beck Speedster...

To me the air cooled motors represent what Porsches have always been especially in the speedster era my two cents I could not stand by and read the comments  in devaluating the air cooled cars . option 3  get a Subaru Forrester  LOL I agree part of the hobby is caring for your car valve adjustments changing oil and filters all fun .and of course if you have the money to purchase a Beck you have the money to take it to the local VW guru and have theses things done .

No offense to anyone just my two Cents 

Pete

I agree with you whole heartedly, Pete, that "the aircooled engines represent what Porsches have always been especially in the Speedster". I also disagree with the comments "devaluating (I don't think that's a word but it fits and we know the point you're going for) the aircooled cars" but everybody is entitled to their opinions. If you've been on here for any length of time, though, you've undoubtedly seen how aircooled Speedsters come up for sale occasionally with very little mileage for their age, and it's usually for the reasons I mentioned above. There are people who get involved with these cars and it's just not a good fit. We've seen this on here time and time again- the dream of roaring around all over the place with the top down and wind in your hair just doesn't meet with the reality of the garage smelling like gas, learning to start an engine and babying it until it's partly warmed up because there's no cold start mode (or even chokes) and you're worried about blowing the oil filter, having to keep a watchful eye on the gauges in hotter weather for signs of overheating, the top leaking (and the car filling with water) when it rains, there being no real (by anything close to modern standards) heat, having to wipe off the inside of the windshield in colder weather, and I'm sure our compatriots here could add to the list.

These are not modern cars, and for some people a Speedster purchase (especially with an aircooled engine) is a mistake. They're in love with the iconic shape but they expect a modern car underneath, and an aircooled Speedster simply isn't it. In the last year (or 2) there was a couple on the forum that was "so in love with Speedsters- they are so cool!" (or something like that). They were trying to decide between one of these cars and a Miata or 370Z convertible- when a lot of the points above were mentioned they decided on the Miata (or maybe it was the 370Z- it doesn't really matter) and were never heard from again. Then there was the lady (somewhere in the midwest?) who figured on making a Speedster her year-round daily driver (I got the impression she wouldn't have lasted 3 days of full on winter!)- she disappeared rather quickly as well.

The point is- these cars (especially when aircooled) aren't for everybody. They're cranky, temperamental with unique handling quirks that can get you in a lot of trouble if you're not careful. Subaru power, while not exactly 'period' at least broadens the fan base and makes our hobby that little bit more 'mainstream'. And as our cars are all replicas, none carry P serial #'s and will never be original (if we were to be as period correct as possible we'd all be running 6 volt electrical systems, 4 or 4½" wide rims, tall and skinny antique Coker tires, drum brakes and hotrodding 36 hp engines- oh, that would be fun!), I see nothing wrong with welcoming a few more into the fold (and I like to think I'm as staunchly on the aircooled side as it gets). As our beloved Uncle Stan has said- "it's a big tent, with room for all".  

@Sam Brown, I commend you for taking on the challenge! There'll be some investing of tools and at times it will be a little frustrating, but between Youtube videos (note now that not all are correct- ask here first!) and the advice you'll get here you'll make it happen. Do you consider yourself mechanically inclined? A car guy?

 PS-

@Lane Anderson wrote- " While I didn’t ALWAYS enjoy working on my car, it connects you to the hobby in a way that checkbook maintenance never will. "

I regret that I have but 1 like for that comment. Working on your own car teaches you to learn it's language, and if you connect with it and learn to listen to what it's telling you it will never lie.. (that last part, as much as I like it and would like to claim it as my own, is paraphrased from Bob Hoover)

Last edited by ALB

I have worked on my Subaru powered car plenty and 30-40 other vintage cars of many types. I disagree with the statement that implies that those who choose a different drivetrain don't connect to there cars or the hobby. I know every sound and feel that all of my cars make and know the second something changes and look to find the reason myself, I don't send the car to a shop to do that. I for one found the power and torque of the Subaru engine to be a great compliment to the light body of our toy cars. I don't fault anyone for choosing to have their car powered by whatever type of engine or electric motor they wish to use. The new guy was asking for our experience and suggestions and somehow the comments of some turned to assuming some of us don't connect to our cars on a mechanical level. We are here to support the enjoyment of our cars in whatever way that is for each of us, if by checkbook or wrench and everyway in between. Amen brothers!

 

Jimmy V. posted:

I have worked on my Subaru powered car plenty and 30-40 other vintage cars of many types. I disagree with the statement that implies that those who choose a different drivetrain don't connect to there cars or the hobby....

 

You are right, Jimmy, there are a lot of guys that are right into their cars even though they have a different drive train, but all the comments above are valid as well. For some a Speedster is a new toy and distraction and it doesn't take long for the shine to wear off.

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