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I guess I should of asked earlier.. With the significance price difference between Subi and VW engines, what are your thoughts on air cooled VW engines. Which one HP displacement reliability wise would you recommend if at all.

I'm no expert but a ready to go Suby Speedster or even a converted Suby conversion is going to be more money, period. Whether it's initially built with the Suby or converted the cost to build is significantly more money. However, I feel in the long run it will be a much more reliable engine regardless of how big you build it. A stock Suby has more hp right out of the gate and no massaging has to be done to get it to have more hp. That being said a Suby can also be made to have a serious amount of hp.

I don't believe Specialty Auto has deliveered a car in many years.  In fact, I have one of the last Cars he did deliver, which was back in 2012.  I think the last car he delivered went to a collector in the Midle East, and that was quite a while ago.   There are a lot of people who have given deposits, and will not likely see either a car or their money.

That being said, if you can find a used SAS car, they are really nice.  I have a Cabriolet with power assisted top, roll up windows, and most of the bells and whistles from the donor car, a 2009 Legacy.

I paid $40K for the car a few years ago, and I am currently the third owner.

Last edited by Jethro

If you want a newly bult 356 replica with a Subaru motor, your best option is either an IM or a Beck.    Personnaly, if I was in teh market to have a new replica built to my specs with a suby motor, I would contract with Specialy Edition (Beck) to build you one.

If you are OK with one already built, you may be able to talk me out of my SAS Cabriolet.   I only drove it 4-5 times thhis past summer... maybe it's time o let her go to someone who may use it more than I have.

"Interested in 356 speedster with Subaru engine. Can you direct me (to) some (pl)aces to purchase new or used. I'm located in NY"

Well, one comes up on here now and then, but more of them seem to appear on the eBay or BaT (Bring a Trailer) websites.  You should also do a search on here for who the better builders are.  Buying from Vintage Motor Cars in California, Special Edition (Beck) in Indiana or Intermeccanica in Vancouver are all sure bets.  All of them sell new, and often broker used cars for clients.  The only place closer would be @Alan Merklin from West Virginia on here, but he's trying to retire and get out of the car building biz.  PLEASE DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER BUYING A CAR FROM SPECIALTY AUTO-SPORTS IN TENNESSEE.   THEY WILL TAKE YOUR MONEY BUT YOU WILL NEVER SEE A CAR IN YOUR LIFETIME.

"With the significance price difference between Subi and VW engines, what are your thoughts on air cooled VW engines. Which one HP displacement reliability wise would you recommend if at all."

My belief is that the big difference in perceived reliability between air cooled and Subaru is that the Subaru engine has electronic fuel injection, versus carburetors on the aircooled engine.  Cars in the USA haven't had carburetors since the early 1980s so fewer and fewer people know how to live with them and even fewer people know how to maintain them properly.  Fuel injection just seems to work (until the ECU dies) and don't need any periodic maintenance which appeals to the non-mechanical folks.  Beyond that, 99% of us on here will not own their cars, aircooled or Subaru powered, long enough to "wear them out" or for them to become unreliable, so that's really a non-issue.  All of the air cooled engines seem to be reliable from 1,776cc up to 2,332cc depending on who built and the quality of parts used, with a sweet spot around 2,110ccs

I would strongly suggest that you spend a few nights using the search function on here (little spy glass in the function bar at the top of the page) to see what discussions have already taken place on these topics (there have been many).  It really helps to get as much info as you can.

Air-cooled cars are nice and can be very reliable. Anything from a 1915cc engine to a 2280 with dual carbs is nice. Look for reputable builders: CB Performance is pretty good and they say the sweet spot is 2110cc and about 150 horsepower.

Maintenance is not bad: annual oil change (with the special high-zinc oil of your choice), check/adjust valve lash and make sure your carbs are syched and have no clogged jets.

I converted an air-cooled car to Subaru using a 1995 Legacy as a donor. A bit of work but a nice result.

Maintenance for Suby: flush the radiator at least every other year, bleed the cooling lines at the beginning of the season, oil change once a year.

Air cooled advantages:

1. looks and sounds like the engine it mimics.

2. much support and love in the VW community

3. easy to put in and take out when required

Air-cooled disadvantages:

1. aftermarket parts quality is spotty

2. carbs, jetting, etc. can get tricky

3. cabin heat: scant at best



EJ22-25 advantages

1. modern design, at least 140 horses out of the box & revs to 6000+

2. Fuel injection means never having to crank the engine while pumping the pedal just right

3. torque curve is high and flat; no need for close-ratio gears & etc.

4. real heat

EJ22-25 disadvantages

1. modern electronics need to be set up. Lots o' wires & sensors & what-not

2. Water-cooled adds some weight and complexity

3. head gaskets can and will fail if you don't remember to change the antifreeze regularly and bleed the air out of the system

I'm seeing Specialtyauto builds with Subaru engines starting at 31500. In
your opinion is this a reputable manufacturer.


Don't even think about it, unless you love being scammed, and put on a so-called waiting list seven years long, that never ends.

Do a search here to read the horror stories with SAS.  Too many people have lost their deposits with this guy.

Thank you. Im in the 25 to 35k range. Seems most subaru engines 356 out of my range. Information here is great. I'm patient, I will find my dream car...eventually.

Steven, There'e been some inflation in the market over the past 18 months or so. $25K is pretty much an entry point for a good looking, simple (VW powered) pan-based Speedster without a lot of issues. Spending less will require major refurbishing (paint, etc.), marginally more will get you a nicer version of the same thing.

Subaru powered Speedsters have been consistently bringing at least $40K.

Ed speaks from firsthand knowledge regarding a Subaru conversion, and Wolfgang's advice is solid. Your first car will not likely be your last if you stay in the hobby. It takes some time to decide if this whole thing is for you or not.

Good luck.

“Fuel injection means never having to crank the engine while pumping the pedal just right.”

While that’s totally true, where’s the fun in THAT?  
It took me a long time to get that pedal pumping down pat!

Exactly. That's a feature, not a bug.

Just like "peacock on, ignition on, two blips of throttle (not one, not three) push starter" starts my FCR-equipped Ducati every time.

The size engine is less important than its build quality. Whether a 1915, 2110 or some different size, get an engine built by someone you know is reputable. Get one with balanced internals, full-flowed oiling, and known, named parts. If the person selling an engine shrugs when you ask what cam and heads and valves are in the motor, pass.

There are still good VW engine builders all over this great nation, and not all of them are known to the dozen or so guys who post regularly on this board. But we do know of several no-great engine builders, GEX being at the top of that list.

If you find a used Speedster you like with an GEX engine or even one the owner can't tell you much about, budget $5k to go through and/or replace it with a better one. A stock old Bug engine will get you down the road reliably (if not with the gusto you'd like), but a "performance build" done poorly will usually fail catastrophically in short order.

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