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Hi everyone,

I, like many others, love the idea of having a 356 Speedster or a 550 Spyder, but have never experienced one firsthand. I'm 6'1" & slender. If anyone in San Diego County (or even Orange County) has either one of these cars & would be amenable to letting me sit in it for a moment, I'd gladly buy you a tank of gas & a coffee.

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@piratfisk i am tall & slim as well..i'm 6' 2" and i fit in my 356A coupe kinda comfortably once i'm in...but my legs are not straight enough to heel/toe on the peddles....not gonna happen...and still gotta get in and out like a girl though   my buddy has a 550 spyder replica...and do i fit in that?..."that's a negative, ghostrider"   my knee is in contact with the shifter and steering wheel...i know i couldn't drive it around the block safely even if wanted to try...but like @RoyP said...only way is to go see for yourself....these cars are a blast!...best of luck in your search and happy motoring Screenshot_20240206_083507_Instagram - CopyScreenshot_20240206_083507_Instagram - CopyScreenshot_20230610_145543_Photos

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+1 on what Roy said. VMC is over in OC county. I visited the shop a few weeks ago while we were on vacation. Anna gave me the tour and showed me the different build stations as well as the 550 builds. They will usually have one or two builds that are close to being done and are able to sit in. I'd check in with her to confirm because they do only build 5-6 cars a month and if you randomly drop by, you may snag a weird gap between cars.

From my experience, you'll have no issue fitting in a speedster. I'm 5'11 and 165 and fit just fine. The seat adjusters have ample room IMO up to a 6'4 person. The challenge is up top, your torso height. If you're xl tshirt size, your head will stick up above the windshield on a speedster. My friend who is 6'3, torso tall had this experience in my car. The solution is to shim the front of the seat to give it more angle and reduce the height exposure. At your height, you should be fine.

550 is a whole other ballpark. Even at 5'11, I'm getting blasted in the face with air. Its a goggles kinda car. I can't speak for driving position in a 550 in terms of legroom, but with regards to heel toe, forget about it on the speedster. that'll never happen.

The position of the pedals in a stock VW pedal cluster is the main problem with heel/toe work in a Speedster. The pedals are too upright. I resolved this by welding a blob onto the pedal stops, and filing them down until the position was right, and the pedals were at the same height. I can (and do) heel/toe in my car.

There is plenty of leg-room in a speedster with a dropped pan. What there isn't typically enough of is windshield height, unless the seat is pitched back and sitting pretty directly on dropped floor pans. Nobody wants to look directly at the windshield frame, but that's what you'll likely be staring at without a dropped pan, a thin seat pad, and a lot of pitch on the seat itself.

A Spyder? Not so much.

Last edited by Stan Galat

@jncspyder's story reminded me of one of the first times I took the Beck Speedster to work back in 2006.  A couple of friends at work who were also car guys wanted rides and I offered them the chance to drive it.  The first one went well and he was smitten.  The second one.. not so much.  Of course the fact that he was 6'8" might have had something to do with it.  He loved the ride, but driving it was impossible.  Somewhere I have a picture of him sitting in (at least partially) a Peel 50 at the first Hilton Head show.  I gotta find that.

@cwazy1 posted:

+1 on what Roy said. VMC is over in OC county. I visited the shop a few weeks ago while we were on vacation. Anna gave me the tour and showed me the different build stations as well as the 550 builds. They will usually have one or two builds that are close to being done and are able to sit in. I'd check in with her to confirm because they do only build 5-6 cars a month and if you randomly drop by, you may snag a weird gap between cars.

From my experience, you'll have no issue fitting in a speedster. I'm 5'11 and 165 and fit just fine. The seat adjusters have ample room IMO up to a 6'4 person. The challenge is up top, your torso height. If you're xl tshirt size, your head will stick up above the windshield on a speedster. My friend who is 6'3, torso tall had this experience in my car. The solution is to shim the front of the seat to give it more angle and reduce the height exposure. At your height, you should be fine.

550 is a whole other ballpark. Even at 5'11, I'm getting blasted in the face with air. Its a goggles kinda car. I can't speak for driving position in a 550 in terms of legroom, but with regards to heel toe, forget about it on the speedster. that'll never happen.

I'll have to check VMC out the next time I'm north of Camp Pendleton, thank you all for the recommendation to go check them out.

I like the way the 550 looks over the 356, but the point is moot if I can't comfortably co-exist with the car. I saw that the original 550s had small windshields, like something on a sportbike, but the kits/recreation cars have full-length & taller windshields. If you're 5'11" & still getting blasted, then I'll have to get a forehead windshield wiper.

@piratfisk posted:

Hi everyone,

I, like many others, love the idea of having a 356 Speedster or a 550 Spyder, but have never experienced one firsthand. I'm 6'1" & slender. If anyone in San Diego County (or even Orange County) has either one of these cars & would be amenable to letting me sit in it for a moment, I'd gladly buy you a tank of gas & a coffee.

What type of driving do you see yourself doing?  If you think you may want to take some long-distance trips, then the 356 is the better option.  As you know, the 550 doesn't have a top, so the chance of rain, cooler temps and hot sun will limit you to short day-trips.

I comfortably drove my 356 from Katy, Texas to Costa Mesa, CA this past September, but I would not even think of such a trip -- 3,000 plus miles -- in a 550.

Jason

.

As noted, your shape matters more than the car's. Mainly, how much of you is above the waist and how much below.

We tour quite a bit in a Speedster (usually, for a few days at a time). What makes that possible is the shelf behind the seats (which doesn't exist in a Spyder). That's where all of our stuff goes. The 'frunk' is filled with car support stuff, like spare tire, parts, tools, etc.

Again, check one out to decide. We all fit differently. My feet, for example, can heel and toe on the stock pedals with no mods.

Last edited by Sacto Mitch
@Stan Galat posted:

@piratfisk - you wouldn't happen to be active duty, would you?

I was AD USN for ~8yrs. Ended in San Diego, decided to set up camp. Corporate life now!

@JasonC posted:

What type of driving do you see yourself doing?  If you think you may want to take some long-distance trips, then the 356 is the better option.  As you know, the 550 doesn't have a top, so the chance of rain, cooler temps and hot sun will limit you to short day-trips.

I comfortably drove my 356 from Katy, Texas to Costa Mesa, CA this past September, but I would not even think of such a trip -- 3,000 plus miles -- in a 550.

Jason

Due to the lovely weather that we're afforded for 9.5mos in San Diego, I would either commute the ~20mi trip to work (35-75mph) & maybe bop around on the weekend. I've been on two wheels for much of my life & spend most every weekend on the bike (Triumph).

You can get a top on a Beck 550, but it really isn't meant for traveling.  The Speedster is  a better over-the-road car, but it's far from a Cadillac.  Still, I made the Charleston, SC to Carlisle, PA and back run many times and others have gone much farther.

I don't really expect either a 356 or a 550 to be an "over the road car for traveling." We have a small household & share one car now without issue. Our farthest car trips are San Diego to LA. If it's more than one tank of gas, we prefer to fly when possible. (i.e.: have driven to Vegas once, never again).

@Stan Galat posted:

@DannyP drove from near NYC to Carlisle, PA many times in a Spyder. It's possible, but only if you're a hardcase. You've got to want it.

Well, Danny P sounds like a road warrior. That's quite a journey. I may be able to tough that out, but I wouldn't subject my wife to hours of racket. My use for this car would be a fun, weekend thing & a fun, occasional commuter.

@edsnova posted:

A 250 mile weekend getaway in a topless Spyder is absolutely doable, even for the meek, non-hooning softcase types.* But it's also more of an adventure than in a Speedster, which is more of an adventure than a Miata, which is a bit more like roughing it than a 1-series BMW, etc.

*even on a rainy fall weekend. I thoroughly enjoy your Spyder -> Speedster -> Miata -> 1-series comparison. It makes total sense.

@Sacto Mitch posted:

.

As noted, your shape matters more than the car's. Mainly, how much of you is above the waist and how much below.

We tour quite a bit in a Speedster (usually, for a few days at a time). What makes that possible is the shelf behind the seats (which doesn't exist in a Spyder). That's where all of our stuff goes. The 'frunk' is filled with car support stuff, like spare tire, parts, tools, etc.

Again, check one out to decide. We all fit differently. My feet, for example, can heel and toe on the stock pedals with no mods.

My shape below the waist is none of your concern, good sir AHHAHAHAHHA I'm joking, I know what you meant. I definitely need to sit in both of these cars. The Spyder is more visually-appealing to me, but again, if my forehead will be dotted with flies, that'll be tens-of-thousands of dollars wasted.

@piratfisk

You fitting in the car comfortably is the number 1 priority. That includes your head being BELOW the windshield.

Since you're a two wheel guy, and your intended usage and location are favorable, a Spyder MAY be a good fit.

A 550 can certainly be fitted with a top(my first one was, my second has a top but it is 95% fitted as of this time). The glass windshield is a must for the top install. Most Beck 550s come with a never-once-used top.

In both of mine, I have heat and defrost. I used a gasoline heater, which definitely changes the thing.

So, I'm a little confused when folks think that Spyders can't be easily fitted. Getting in and out with the top installed was difficulty 4 of 5. My new to me used Beck top has a hinged frame, allowing the top to flip out of the way for easy entry/exit. Simply unlatch the two header latches, and push it out of the way. The new top also has side curtains that fit into pockets in the top, no zippers.

Trips taken:

It was 230 miles each way to Carlisle, both with and mostly without the top. I drove it there three times, then towbar or trailer. One driving trip back in the rain and fog was really scary, I had my friend Lenny behind me protecting me from getting rear-ended. People were STILL flying even though visibility was LOW.

I drove the Spyder from the Hudson Valley(60-80 miles North of NYC on the Hudson River) to the Pumpkin Run at least twice, which was in Chambersburg PA near the Maryland/West Virginia border. 280 miles each way, top up, in the rain, at night. "The night was moist"-Throw Momma From The Train.

I also took a 5 day trip to the Washington DC area(mostly Maryland) though NJ via the NJ Turnpike. I took the truck/commercial traffic side when it split and cruised at 80 mph minimum the whole way. No lookie-loos, all trucks. It was glorious!

I had active noise-canceling earplugs in. Very necessary!

These days I trailer(enclosed) the Spyder to anywhere we want, and hoon in the mountains with like-minded friends.

Sorted, geared, and driven properly, a Spyder can be an awesome conveyance.

But, you've got to want it MORE, like Stan said.

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