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Just curious as I have a Beck on order.  I live in Tampa, FL and foresee needing to have the top up a fair amount of time due to the extreme summer sun/heat.  I am ordering the Speedster with air conditioning and I enjoy driving my current cars with the windows down and a/c blasting.

So, what's it like driving with the top up?  How is the visibility?  Huge blind spot since there is no rear quarter window?  Most of what I read from the comments on here and on BaT, is that everyone drives with the top down unless they happen to get caught in the rain.

I want this car to be a driver that will replace my motorcycle addiction, not be a garage queen that only gets driven on perfect days.  My motorcycles never get ridden much during the summer, just too freakin hot and I don't want that to be the case for the Speedster.

Thoughts?

Ben

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The heat in summer isn't going to change.

I live in the Panhandle of Florida and it is hot enough in the summer here that some days I just don't drive my Speedster because of it. Top up means more engine noise in the passenger compartment, cruddy visibility and it holds in the heat. AC might help some, but add the side curtains to hold in the cool air and the visibility gets worse and the claustrophobic feeling increases.

You might do better with a light colored car, roof and interior, but even with AC, there may be days when it is uncomfortable to drive it.

Consider what Arden says above.

Benjamin,

I average 7K miles/year on my Speedster.  I drive all year as long as long as it's above about 45 degrees.  Never in the rain, if I can help it.  I live in DC so our summers are hot too -- but nothing like what you'll face.  I'm 6' and the car feels like a coffin when the top's up.

Changing lanes to the left is easy.  Getting safely back to the right is problematic.  Pulling out of a parking space to the right into traffic is a life and death decision.

Here are some ideas that probably won't help:

Buy a right rear view mirror with the wide-angle lens.  It gives you a much wider field of view.  Sorry but I can't remember the name.... oblique?  I have the Aero style mirrors.  There are some that are much larger and would improve visibility.  But they will raise design questions regarding aesthetics and appropriateness.

You can get these attractive clip-on side vents that are attached to the windshield.  I don't own a pair but I think you have to remove the door windows to use?  Or does the Beck have roll-down windows.  Regardless, they would bring in lots of air as long as you keep moving.

You mentioned quarter-panel windows in the top.  That might work though I doubt it.  Here's why.  When you need to go right quickly you need to look to that quarter panel.  But that panel is low and not wide.  You'll have to crunch down and turn and look.  Better than nothing possibly but I doubt you'll be satisfied.

I've seen tops that have rear windows that wrap all the way around practically to the doors.  That might work.

Lastly, silly perhaps but routinely apply that solution to your windshield, mirrors, side panels and rear plastic panel that keeps raindrops from forming.  Rainguard?  It does help with visibility when it's raining.  It's funny but I find that if there are drops on my mirrors, my eyes focus first on them before focusing on what's beyond them.  That second or two to adjust will be important when a quick maneuver is required.

Hope this is helpful and enjoy you new car.

Marshall

The coupe idea is a good one but I already have two other coupes (not 356's) that I drive on a daily basis so I really want a completely different experience with this one.

I'm 6 foot tall, fyi, if that makes any difference.  Well, actually 5'11 3/4" as my wife often likes to remind me, ha.

From what I have seen, Beck puts in a rather large rear window, bigger than a lot of the other Speedsters that I have seen anyway.  Hopefully that will help?

@Lane Anderson  I know Lane Anderson's rear window looked like it had great visibility.  I believe this was his car anyway, got the pic from BaT.

Rear window

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Last edited by Benjamin

@Benjamin   My older sister lives in Tampa - Please keep her down there.    

If you're getting a Beck, ask Carey if they can modify the rear window with a zipper around the sides and top of the window itself so you can un-zip it and drop it down.  If you leave it up, especially with the side windows out, the top tends to buffet in the wind as you're moving and drive you nuts.  Unzip the rear window and the buffeting stops.

The only 356 I've ridden in with A/C was Tom Marantz's dark gray 356 coupe and it was really cold.  He had set it just below mid-range on mid-90's days at a Carlisle meet and it was chilly in there.  Yours should have little trouble keeping up, plus it's a very effective defogger.  Probably enough cold for top-down driving when it's hot, but I have no experience there.

I drive 2 - 3 months of the year with the top up and side windows in on my Speedster (I'm up in Massachusetts).  I wear "Ear Peace" ear plugs so the noise, while different top down versus top up, isn't all that bad - much of it is carburetor intake noise and not enough to drown out the radio but it's best to stop and shut down the motor to take a phone call.  ALL of that depends on the exhaust system ordered and how loud it is.

Visibility:  Yes, there are blind spots - they're pretty big.  Ask Carey to install convex mirrors on both sides (door or fender) - those should help a lot.

You cannot see an overhead stoplight when you're first in line because the top obscures it.  Get one of these for $20 bucks to see the light - Mine works great:

https://lightinsight.com

It looks like this below (I circled the stoplight obscured by the top).  It doesn't affect your vision out of the windshield (it hangs down about 2") and was OK'd by Applus here in Mass.  They're the "We don't approve anything we don't like the looks of" arm of the Dept. of Motor Vehicles and are a lot more strict than anything in Florida.

Slide1

Hope all this helps.  Gordon

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Last edited by Gordon Nichols

Many people I now in the FL and TX motorcycle community don't ride as much in the heat of Summer and can't wait for "Fall riding season" to begin. Even in Ontario, we get 100 degree including humidity days when convertibles aren't the most practical and Summer's are only getting hotter.

They're really not the best daily drivers when you ideally want 70-90 and sunny

Most of these are convertibles with a tarp over a folding frame, closer to a boat top. I don't think too many owners actually plan to regularly drive with the top up .... on purpose.

I can't remember seeing Lane's top up.  It looks very much like the top that IM uses.  With a convertible D (vs the Speedster) you get a taller top, real up/down side windows, and taller windshield.  Not sure if Beck SE offers a convertible D.  A Subaru engine will offer better AC and heat than an air cooled one.  A ball cap will be your friend.  A full tonneau is good for keeping AC in and rain/sun out when parked - you can drive with passenger's side closed. Wonder if blind spot monitoring could be added? I'm in NW FL - pick a color that pops - there are a lot of inattentive (txting) and older drivers to avoid (not to mention the un-insured). Be sure to have a third brake light (even with a flasher) installed.

I'm 6' and have driven a fair amount with the top up.  It's a different experience.....but not traumatic by any stretch.  It takes some adjustment.  I put the top up when it's below 45-degrees.  Will the car heat up like a modern car?....no.  But at least you won't feel the 45-degree wind hitting your face at 70mph.

Visibility is unique.  It's odd being taller than the side windows.  You need to bend down a bit to see out....which I actually like.  It definitely provides a bit of anonymity, which I actually like.  I don't have a passenger side mirror, and really haven't had an issue.....I just look around before changing lanes.  

I also haven't found street lights being difficult to see when the top is up.

I like to put the top up when it is extremely hot and I don't feel like being burnt to a crisp.  With the side windows off, there's enough air blowing through the cabin.  I wish I had a zip out window in the back, that would be killer.

My biggest issue with the top up?  I can't get out of the car in my tight garage.  With it off, I stand up and step out.  With the top up, I'm sure folks around get a good laugh at watching my "roll" out of the car.

Anyway, it's not that terrible as long as you adapt.



-Kevin

Looks like you have receive excellent info. I am in Texas 5'11" have AC and do drive with the top up on occasion. I have a 1915 type 1 so the subi will probably heat and cool better. in short the the AC is great for sitting at a stop light in the heat of the summer with the top down, and on those days when it gets a little to hot for the wife. honestly I don't use it that much but I am glad I have it.  on the +95° days when its sunny the radiant heat and the air leaks on the top will still out heat the AC.  but its better than the sun burn... as mentioned above a Bimini top or a zip our back window is on my wish list.  I do not have the "big" back window so the blind spots are significant but manageable on the occasions I do have the top up. I think it would get extremally annoying if I used the car as a daily with the top up.

I'm 6' and feel comfortable with the top up, even with it being modified to the "low bow" configuration. Kinda snug and cozy with the side curtains in place.

The rear window has a zipper. When its down, and with no side curtains, there's a nice breeze. Making it cooler to drive in the summer than with the top down. This improves rear visibility slightly, and is good for minimizing skin cancer, as well. 

Don't get a coupe. There's nothing like the sensation of driving an open car.

I've heard of others coming up with an idea of a Bimini top.
Just have some shade like in my Jeep, I've thought about one for a Spyder too like this one that was sold awhile back.









SFD_3409-tiny-2048x0SFD_3410-tiny-2048x0

I agree that top idea is cool. The top was never sold, I believe this was a one-off. That car was a heavily "scooped" Perry D which is on a full-length VW pan. I'm really not a fan, the lines are just all sorts of wrong.

An IM  convertible D, with a Vintage Air AC and subie can be driven with top up or down with AC and I have driven it top up at 100degrees over here.  If your rear window can be zippered down, voila, you have a canopy.  BTW IM  does have POWER windows as well so if it gets too hot a closed cabin makes it easier to cool.  Just saying.  I have yet to drive it any lower than Monterey in May 2015 so others will have to comment on Florida or California experience.

That’s definitely a picture of my car, but the VA plate indicates it was after it was sold.  I drove many thousands of miles with the top up and enjoyed it almost as much as top down.

One of the best things I did with the car was to make the lexan side windows with pop-out vents.  That gave me all kinds of options.  Strongly recommended.

Last edited by Lane Anderson


SFD_3410-tiny-2048x0

To my aesthetic sensibility, this is the absolute high-water mark of soft-tops for outlaw speedsters/spyders. Everything you need, nothing you don't.

Some sort of "tent-pole" arrangement for the rear bow, whereby the frame breaks down into pieces that have an elastic cord running through them, so that they needn't be overly long would be ideal. Ideally, the front bow would also be in a couple of pieces, so that the entire arrangement could be stowed in a smallish bag in the frunk.

Side curtains would be strictly optional, as the top wouldn't really amount to anything more than a vague idea.

Stupid-cool.

Sounds like somewhat mixed opinions on the topic, so I guess I'll just have to find out for myself when the time comes but this has given me some comfort regarding solutions to make the top up driving better, much appreciated.

I definitely do not have any false hopes of this being an actual everyday driver; I just do not want it to turn into the occasional "out for a nice short Sunday drive" kind of car either.  Assuming the rain forecast is good, I just want to use and enjoy the car if and when I want to...even in the not-so-perfect top down weather.

Let's see, six months since deposit placed, so, what will feel like 60 more months to go?

Last edited by Benjamin

Great thread, gentlemen. To recap, then:

1. A/C in a Beck absolutely will "keep up" with a Florida Summer.

2. Get a high-bow top with a zip-out rear window for air flow.

3. Get or fashion lexan/plexi side curtains for better visibility.

4. Convex mirrors, please.

5. Consider a scooped floor pan as well (applies to long torso guys).

To all this I will add just one thing for @Benjamin's edification: You will drive it as much as you really want to drive it. That means you need to understand that, to drive it in "less than ideal" weather or road conditions you will need to really want to drive it. To really want to drive it, you will need to come to terms with the fact that it will never behave in any significant way like a normal modern vehicle. This will be true even if you run a Subaru 2.5 engine with fuel injection. And it will be true to the nth power if you opt for an air-cooled, carbureted power plant. To really want to drive it, you will need to really want to learn how to properly start it when hot. You will need to really want to hear it rev past 4,000 rpm on the highway. You will need to really want to enjoy all the sounds and feelings that go with driving a vehicle that is designed and built like something from the Eisenhower administration. You will need to really want to sort out the little bugs and gremlins that will accompany it on delivery—true even with a Beck, which is built to a quality standard far beyond most kits, and beyond even what Porsche could muster back when it built cars that looked like it. There will be issues, and you're going to need to really want to patiently sort through them, one by one, over a period of months.

Most people who buy these really believe that they really want all these things. But in reality what they really want is a feeling, a look, a fantasy that these cars—any car—can't really deliver. They know they will look cool in it, just as you will, and their heart tricks them into thinking that will feel cool. But what it feels like is imminent death; like driving a child's pedal car straight into the mud pit of a monster truck rally. It feels like flop sweat and panic.

It feels wrong and dangerous and foolhardy and cramped and uncomfortable and loud and loud and so loud what was I thinking?

This is the feeling you must cultivate. And transcend.

Every man on this board who really drives their PCCA conveyance has learned, sometimes over long years, to really want to feel those feelings of helpless surrender. To revel in the knowledge that they have no On Star monitoring them, no air bags or ABS protecting them. No 12-speaker Bose Sound System or infotainment system to carry their concentration off, nor backup cameras or built-in satellite navigation to guide them. No special right to any lane or parking spot. Only raw wit and driving skill separating them from The Great Divide.

Cultivate a love for that. A desire for that. Then you will really want to drive the Speedster.

@DannyP posted:

I agree that top idea is cool. The top was never sold, I believe this was a one-off. That car was a heavily "scooped" Perry D which is on a full-length VW pan. I'm really not a fan, the lines are just all sorts of wrong.

For anyone that wants all of the modern conveniences with the manual operation of a Speedster top just needs to get a new Porsche 718 Boxster Spyder. The 718 Spyder is near the top of the model lineup for the 718 series and features a manually operated folding top, albeit, easier to put up and take down than one of our Speedster tops. I just delivered another one of these today and they are are dream to drive.

Last edited by Robert M

.

Ed has observed of Speedster driving,

“It feels wrong and dangerous and foolhardy and cramped and uncomfortable and loud and loud…”

But Benjamin tells us,

“…I want this car to be a driver that will replace my motorcycle addiction…”

So Benjamin, you may have what it takes. Motorcycles are wrong and dangerous and cramped and uncomfortable and loud, but motorcyclists don’t seem to care, either. They’re after that raw, unfettered, bugs in your face freedom that cars mostly can’t deliver. And our Speedsters are often said to be closer to motorcycles than to regular cars.

But then, there’s the matter of Tampa.

You’re asking for the raw of a Speedster AND, at the push of a button, immunity from the forces of nature. The opportunity for disappointment is vast.

As Ed also notes, we each must come to an uneasy truce with our Speedsters. The car has its ways and can’t be sweet-talked out of them. We’re the ones who must adjust if the union is to endure.

I live in a place also famous for its heat and have worked out ways of dealing with that. For me, it’s an open car and more than half of the ‘experience’ is going top down. I rarely bother putting the top up. If it’s raining, I don’t go. If it’s a hot day, I choose the coolest hours to drive.

But there’s Sacramento heat and there’s Tampa heat, as detailed here:

SactoTampaTemps



By the numbers, our hottest months are even hotter than Tampa. The difference, (and we’ll leave out matters of humidity) is that on even our hottest days, it’s usually about 35 degrees cooler the night before. We have a ‘magic time’, for about four hours just after sunrise, when temps are good for a top-down drive with no need for A/C. So, in the summer, that’s when I drive. After that, I park the car and call it a day. In Tampa, at sunrise it's typically already almost 80 degrees (with that unmentionable humidity). No magic time.

But there’s also the matter of rain. For about half the year here, there’s virtually no chance of rain. So, I can pretty much take off on any of those summer mornings without worrying about the sky. Or plan a week-long getaway of a few hundred miles without ever needing a top.

But, Tampa is different:

SactoTampaRain



Your worst months for heat are also your worst months for rain. You get as much rain in July and August as we do all year. On average, it rains almost every other day then.

So, I’m thinking, if I were in Tampa, I’d seriously consider having a removable hardtop and just leaving that on in the middle of summer. The soft top is a bit of a job to put up and stow (there's the matter of the tonneau cover, too) and not as waterproof as a hardtop. In a sudden summer thunderstorm, you’d be soaked before you got the top up and not really dry even after you did.

It’s something to think about. Hardtops must be custom fitted to each car individually. They’re not cheap, and I don’t know if Carey’s even making them in the crunch of their current workload, but it’s something you should at least be asking him about.

.

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Last edited by Sacto Mitch

@edsnova  That actually sounds incredible; I want it to be raw, not civilized.  What you are describing makes me think of my Harley.

@Sacto Mitch  Good points.  It's not so much the heat here, I can deal with that.  It is the sun.  The sun is absolutely brutal here during the summer.  I'll work with Carey when my spot comes up to figure out the best top-up driving visibility as possible.

Was mentioned earlier about lowering the seat height, I believe I read where Carey said that his new frame had an added benefit of the seat being two inches lower than before?

Last edited by Benjamin

I started to reply to this thread yesterday but don't see my response this morning so I must have gotten sidetracked.

We use a larger back window on the Speedster as a standard and can make it even bigger on request.  The one pictured on Lane's old car is a little larger than stock and is much nicer as a zip-out otherwise it tends to crease the material when folded.

Speedster high bow is our standard.

Our Spyder top stores in the nose of the car, at full width.  It's a tight fit but the header bow just goes in.  With a little work one could make the rear window of a Spyder removable, or make a bimini style top like pictured, HOWEVER, I would highly recommend some aero testing before this was done.  The aero on a Spyder is a bit different than a speedster and the way the air comes off the windshield and doe sa 180 is much more severe on a Spyder, so I have a feeling that you'd have a few issues that are not present on a Speedster.  I know that may sound weird, but I've done a ton of telemetry and wind testing on both over the years.

Seat height, yes the floor of our new chassis sits lower than previous cars.  It still can be modified for even more room, but Ive yet to find that necessary.

Hardtops are a one off thing, individually fit, and while we can do them they are very expensive and time consuming.  I don't advertise them, or even offer them "officially".

@Benjamin, you're getting great advice and there's no doubt that @chines1 will help you find that sweet spot you seek.

I just wanted to touch on your point about getting out of the sun. We have similar temps, but even more intense sun in the summer (1500 miles above the equator). We have AC and run it on occasion, but mostly just wear good hats. I mostly wear a ball cap, but pull out my crocodile dundee (w/chin strap) if I'm going on a long (2-3 hrs) ride in mid-summer. It gives better sun protection.

We put the top up and run without the side windows (AC on) maybe 2-3 times a year the sun is particularly intense and we're going to be out for a while in the heat of the day. All of the suggestions above make it no real problem.

You'll find the comfort zone and after you get familiar with your car, you'll know what to do in any weather.

You know your car is going to be great coming from Carey!

@edsnova posted:

Great thread, gentlemen. To recap, then:

1. A/C in a Beck absolutely will "keep up" with a Florida Summer.

2. Get a high-bow top with a zip-out rear window for air flow.

3. Get or fashion lexan/plexi side curtains for better visibility.

4. Convex mirrors, please.

5. Consider a scooped floor pan as well (applies to long torso guys).

To all this I will add just one thing for @Benjamin's edification: You will drive it as much as you really want to drive it. That means you need to understand that, to drive it in "less than ideal" weather or road conditions you will need to really want to drive it. To really want to drive it, you will need to come to terms with the fact that it will never behave in any significant way like a normal modern vehicle. This will be true even if you run a Subaru 2.5 engine with fuel injection. And it will be true to the nth power if you opt for an air-cooled, carbureted power plant. To really want to drive it, you will need to really want to learn how to properly start it when hot. You will need to really want to hear it rev past 4,000 rpm on the highway. You will need to really want to enjoy all the sounds and feelings that go with driving a vehicle that is designed and built like something from the Eisenhower administration. You will need to really want to sort out the little bugs and gremlins that will accompany it on delivery—true even with a Beck, which is built to a quality standard far beyond most kits, and beyond even what Porsche could muster back when it built cars that looked like it. There will be issues, and you're going to need to really want to patiently sort through them, one by one, over a period of months.

Most people who buy these really believe that they really want all these things. But in reality what they really want is a feeling, a look, a fantasy that these cars—any car—can't really deliver. They know they will look cool in it, just as you will, and their heart tricks them into thinking that will feel cool. But what it feels like is imminent death; like driving a child's pedal car straight into the mud pit of a monster truck rally. It feels like flop sweat and panic.

It feels wrong and dangerous and foolhardy and cramped and uncomfortable and loud and loud and so loud what was I thinking?

This is the feeling you must cultivate. And transcend.

Every man on this board who really drives their PCCA conveyance has learned, sometimes over long years, to really want to feel those feelings of helpless surrender. To revel in the knowledge that they have no On Star monitoring them, no air bags or ABS protecting them. No 12-speaker Bose Sound System or infotainment system to carry their concentration off, nor backup cameras or built-in satellite navigation to guide them. No special right to any lane or parking spot. Only raw wit and driving skill separating them from The Great Divide.

Cultivate a love for that. A desire for that. Then you will really want to drive the Speedster.

This is 90% of a sticky we should make required reading. Great summary, Ed!

What a great thread!  I wish I'd had all this info when I started th9is Speedster ownership journey.  A couple of thoughts after a lot of road trips including CA and back and 13 round trips to Carlisle at 2,500 miles apiece.

The visibility driving my car with the top up is awful and very dangerous.  I am paranoid when sometimes needing to see to the side/rear with the top up.  Sometimes I approach certain intersections so that I can see over my shoulder by positioning the car so I am looking out the side window rather that over my shoulder.  I have the convex side mirrors but they are good for seeing cars behind ms but they don't help when trying to see over my shoulder when pulling into traffic.

I never drive Interstates with the top down as the noise and wind buffeting are unpleasant at high speeds.  To stop the top buffeting at speed just take either window out and the top is happy. I like to remove the right window. In the rain driving slower works ok.  I can't imagine any car out there with better visibility  than a Speedster with the top down and we most always drive that way around town.

I love my VS and don't think I'll ever get rid of it.  I'll be 83 in March.  Geezerdom hasn't diminished my love for this car and the great trips we still take and,some of the best SOC friends I have ever had!

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