What are the most recognizable differences between the major speedster manufacturers?

Most "tells" are in the interior.  The IM is closest to the real thing with a roomier floor area and a low, squared-off tunnel like the real Speedster.  Dash trim is pretty much the same as the real ones unless the owner has requested something different.

The Beck has a wide, flat floor with enough room on the passenger side to rent out as an efficiency apartment.  There is no "ridge" next to the door as in the others.  The floor is flat all the way across except for a low, squared-off tunnel like the IM.  The dash trim includes the roll but usually does not include the bright metal strip unless the customer requests it.  Door top trim is squared off, unlike the originals' rounded trim.

Vintage and JPS are almost the same inside unless custom stuff is ordered by the buyer.  Neither has the dash pad (or roll - not sure what to call it).  In the JPS the dash top leather/vinyl dash cover extends to the doors while the VS cover stops an inch or so short.  Both have narrower foot boxes as they are based on the Beetle pans.  They also have taller, more rounded tunnels.  Door top trim is square.

All of these have emergency brakes on the tunnels rather than under the dash as in the real ones.  There have been some IMs and Becks made with under-dash e-brakes as special requests.  Probably the same for JPS and VS, but I am not aware of them.

For Speedster the shift knob, switch knobs, and door handle bezels should be ivory, although many are black unless ivory is requested.

Outside "tells" are a little more subtle.  Trim variances were common on the real ones, so the lack of side trim is not really an indicator.  The Becks have bumpers that are a bit thinner in cross-section and that stand out a bit more from the body.  Until recently the standard Beck deco molding was different, but I believe they use reproduction trim that is much like the originals now.  The style of license plate light and tail light should be as follows IIRC:

  1. Beehive tail lights with shine-down license light through '56 (I believe)
  2. A short period of some with teardrop tail lights and shine down license lights in early '57 as stock of parts was used
  3. One shine down lights were used up in early of mid '57, all 356A cars had teardrop tail lights and shine up license lights

This last bit is from memory and that has grown increasingly unreliable over time.  Sigh...

Wheels should be 10-slot wide-5s with baby moons, but variances are common.  Most replicas have 8-slot rims due the use of 4 lug hubs, but some Becks have custom made 10-slot, 4 lug wheels.

I think Real Speedsters all had bumper over-riders, but most replicas do not.

That's all I can think of at the moment.

550 Phil posted:

Many of us can tell the difference by just a short glance.  Probably more important what's below the skin.  What do they say?  Beauty is only skin deep but ugly go all the way to the bone.  I'm more interested in the bones.  "This may be a long discussion.   "

Now that is a true comment... 

Interior quick notes...  dashboard features that pop right out to me including the pedal cluster and the hand brake location on 1984 and newer cars. 

 

Ryan - There were many Speedster companies that came and disappeared quickly in '80-90s - one called Ryan!.  This is good site for list of various makers over the years -

http://www.speedsters.com/srs-AtoZ.htm

CMC - (goes for FiberFab too) unique flared "California" body with their chrome and gold wheels (optional), Rare Convertible D with windup windows taller windshield also a 359 model, cast 1 piece hibachi grill (early IMs used too - CMC bought out IM in '86-88 (?), Optional VINTAGE gauges (5) with black face /black bezel, white face/silver bezel or white face/brass bezel ($325), CLASSIC SPEEDSTER hood handle crest (easy to replace with PORSCHE one), optional 14" wood look steering wheel with same crest, supplied with gold CMC (FF) id badge 2x2" that could be riveted to car had customer/invoice # imprinted on it (often discarded), steel show/roll bar optional w/ mounting brackets, Often sported ANZA quad chrome tip muffler (optional), front turn signals Sigstat 18 wheeler clearance lights, cast aluminum lid hinges with no markings, all pan based 'cept for a few highly desirable Metal Craft chassis, interior door cards a sheet of plain vinyl with true speedster look butt tight fiberglass shell seat w/twin back cut outs (both easily replaced with VS pieces or 914 seats), rear fiberglass can sag (butt sag) leaving up to 1/2" gap at door tops due to 1/4" rivets holding fiberglass to metal frame elongating mounting holes(easy 2 hr fix with metal straps, bolts and mastic), strong fiberglass body (can be 1/2" thick in places) with factory gel coat finish (weathered ones can be brought back to luster with wet sanding and buffing - easily repainted, very substantial steel perimeter frame with cut outs for front floor well SS Porsche speedster style slide heater vents (optional), defrost vents (optional from CMC) were plastic ovals (not the aluminum strip used by Porsche) - again easy replacement to OEM. 

CMC also made the Gazelle (MB SS100 take off), an MG, a '34 Ford, and the Tiffany -- FF had at least 20 replica/tribute vehicles: Avenger GT (GT40), VALKYRIE , Jamaican, Aztek, Liberty, Scarab, Clodhopper, etc.

IM (early) - same body and steel sub frame as CMC but they were hand built by IM (while most of CMCs were kits designed for DIY home builder), use same cast hibachi grill (a Porsche multi piece one can be used but opening has to be enlarged ~1/4"), lid hinges cast aluminum with INTERMECCANICA, 600 built in Santa Anna CA before IM moved north to Canada.  Recommend book - "Intermeccanica: The Story of the Prancing Bull "by Andrew McCredie and Paula Reisner (Henry's sister). 

 

The IM is closest to the real thing with a roomier floor area and a low, squared-off tunnel like the real Speedster.

Except for the pan based IM Speedsters which used the "toe cramped" pedal area and the wide side sills.  The later IM tube chassis gave more room. 

VS - VS had their own hood badge with V S on it, VW pan based and most are rear swing axle (often converted from IRS pans) - to give more rear wheel space. Nicely styled wide and ultra wide bodies available.  Often only 1 front axle height adjustr and no front anti-sway bar.  Fake rear indent for rear torsion bar removal (much like OEM Speedster (easily replicated on say CMC though). VS built and rollers available.

My guess is VS is 3rd or 4th largest builder (CMC/FF (30k????), IM, VS (3k), JPS, Beck - but just my guess).

 

Stuff you CAN see as you walk up (from the outside):

VS omits the black rubber gaskets under the horn grills and rear deck lid grill. IM (and I think Beck and JPS) includes those.

Also, the VS Speedster seat cushion is covered with two stitched pieces of fabric, unlike the original which has no seam running across it. I know IM is one piece, JPS is two pieces, but I forget what Beck does.

And once you've seen IM (or original) square weave carpet, you'll recognize the difference immediately between that and what VS uses. (But original Speedsters had rubber floor covering up front.) For that matter, same goes for the overall upholstery quality, too. There are reasons IM's take six months to build. VS carpeting is only slightly more durable than butterfly wings.

Another interior IM 'tell' is that they go to the trouble of building a small box under the pedals so they look like they're going through slots in the floor like on the original cars. Nice.

And, of course, the most foolproof tell - if the owner is wearing a real Rolex, the car is not a VS.

 

Easy to group (based on my observations):

by cost - VS/JPS low, Beck med, IM high

by chassis - VS/JPS pan (AC mainly), Beck tube (AC to Subbie), IM custom (AC to Subi to Porsche 911)

by Style - VS std/wide/ultra (is wide even still avail?), JPS Speester/coupe, Beck Speedster starting coupe (spyder and GTS 904), IM speedster/D multiple engine/suspension options up to 911.

by performance - VS pan/swing axle, Beck tube, IM Porsche under pinnings 

by Finish - VS/JPS nice acceptable quality (tight quarters interior), Beck great quality (roomy interior), IM high end production quality (roomy fitted interior).

By quality? by support? by innovation? by weather sealing? by resale value?

Seems like it all boils down to "you get what you pay for."

 

Lots of great stuff here. 

In addition to all the differences I have read here, the only thing I wanted to add are the side windows.

I’ve only seen a handful of IM Speedsters, so I may be reaching here. But those I saw had actual glass side windows. Therefore the side windshield  supports are different then the other manufacturers; as it appears the IM’s create a tight seal at this location. 

 

Tom Blankinship posted:
IM Speedsters have a rubber trim piece glued to the side of the windshield frame.

This is how IM has been doing it for 10 years or so. However, there was a period when Henry was gluing a seal to the leading edge of the window glass itself in an effort to avoid the seal on the frame.

My car has this, as does Al Shapiro's "Ruby", and a few other cars I know of. IMHO, it's a more elegant, if less positive way for the glass to seal to the frame.

Yes, there is the rubber seal, but I also believe Henry moves the windshield back slightly to reduce the gap between the windshield post and the leading edge of the side windows.  I have never measured another brand of Speedster to confirm this, but there certainly seems to be a difference in windshield placement.  My observations are just based on other Speedsters I have seen, either in person or through photographs.

It is nice to have electric roll-up windows, though.

Crap.  Now I’m thinking of summer drives, and we aren’t even through January yet...

WOLFGANG posted:

My guess is VS is 3rd or 4th largest builder (CMC/FF (30k????), IM, VS (3k), JPS, Beck - but just my guess).

FWIW,  I can't imagine CMC/FF built anywhere close to 30,000 kits. I'd be surprised if they built 10,000. I'd guess it was less than 5000, but this is just a guess. Somebody with some harder numbers can get closer than either of us guessing.

The "3000" figure for Vintage has been floating around on this site for over 10 years. If I were guessing, I'd think there are twice that many out there-- but Kirk and/or Justin are the only guys that would know for sure.

Intermeccanica has built nowhere near that many cars.

From the Vintage home page- "Over 3000 customers can’t be wrong". And I believe IM produces 15-20 cars/year. Not a lot, but the ones they do build are nice...

PS- on the Vintage Options page-

                  3300+

                                Cars Built to Date

 

IM makes very few speedsters as the majority of their biz is "D" Roadsters, likely because they are roomier and a bit more civil relative to modern comforts. They might be the only ones building roadsters these days but(?) not sure. I will say that my speedster windows appear to be water tight and are power with hidden switches under dash just to the left of steering column. IM seems to have gotten the windows predictably in function and water tight.

CMC estimate is purely a SWAG. Years ago SOC tracked # signed up here by make -  seems 75% were FF/CMC.  Not sure if fair to include FiberFab (FF) figures in with CMC count but they sold under both name and locations) in '78-81.  FF had ~20 models but Speedsters and maybe MGs/Avenger were best selling models.  CMC produced Tiffany (Motors), Gazelle SSK, MGTD, Ford Vicy , Speedster (Classic, Calif, 359) plus a Cobra and Bugatti that I have never seen a single copy of (Barn finds in the making).  Their buildin near Miami was 160,000 sq ft building (that's huge! Would be about about 570 garages).  They produced cars for 17 years (1978-1995).  Built primarily unfinished kits  (except for Tiffany) with unfinished cars going for $8k each (at least for Speedsters).  They also sold parts/options.  They ended up with a $2M fine and $1M in inventory to be sold (was that book value or auction value?). In its prime CMC was doing $15,000,000- $20,000,000 US in revenue (is that a year?) and selling hundreds of kits a month (is that 300? 800?).  200 kits/month would be $1.6M/month so $19.2M/year!  200 kits/month say only 150 were Speedster is 1800 kits/year for just12 year (of their 17 year run) so 21,600 Speedsters produced (plus FF Speedsters - surely another 1-2K?). I'd put German DMs on 20k total build figure.

All figures confirmed using a 4th generation Cray XMP (aka iphone 8)!

Related image

http://fiberclassics.org/classic-motor-carriages/

Here's another article that says by 1985 gross revenues were $20m/year with 300 kits per year (??? but that makes those kits very very expensive so my guess is 300/month??).  In last few years, Street Beasts was selling 40 kits per month so near 500/year grossing $6M (not all Speedsters).  900 complaints - so that's 900 vehicles!

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/n...y-background-6378722

IM makes many speedsters and also many roadsters.  I would not say they make mostly roadsters but I think the higher end makes some people more mature ... think grey and maybe they have more of a round shape and maybe want more comfort and more turn key. Hence your perception of more roadsters but if you were to look at the builds there pretty equal IMO

IaM-Ray posted:

IM makes many speedsters and also many roadsters.  I would not say they make mostly roadsters but I think the higher end makes some people more mature ... think grey and maybe they have more of a round shape and maybe want more comfort and more turn key. Hence your perception of more roadsters but if you were to look at the builds there pretty equal IMO

Not that it matters...but it is in print that 20 of 25 cars produced each year are ROADSTERS...and is recently approaching 90%(HENRY)....just for hard accuracyEX6

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WOLFGANG posted:

Easy to group (based on my observations):

by cost - VS/JPS low, Beck med, IM high

by chassis - VS/JPS pan (AC mainly), Beck tube (AC to Subbie), IM custom (AC to Subi to Porsche 911)

by Style - VS std/wide/ultra (is wide even still avail?), JPS Speester/coupe, Beck Speedster starting coupe (spyder and GTS 904), IM speedster/D multiple engine/suspension options up to 911.

by performance - VS pan/swing axle, Beck tube, IM Porsche under pinnings 

by Finish - VS/JPS nice acceptable quality (tight quarters interior), Beck great quality (roomy interior), IM high end production quality (roomy fitted interior).

By quality? by support? by innovation? by weather sealing? by resale value?

Seems like it all boils down to "you get what you pay for."

 

Excellent analysis, Wolfgang.  

 

As I mentioned Benzai, that is a 15 year old article so maybe that was so back then but, not if you go to the flicker and see the builds.  

I might also point out that in 1983 when they moved to Canada and sold the USA company.  I believe that IM could not produce speedsters due to a non compete and developped the roadster business from that point on. 

So today, It looks pretty even but not all cars are posted and having been to the IM's shop at least a half dozen times I saw the production and many people buy speedsters if they can fit in them but some clients are able to chose the roadster, i.e.: if they have short torso or are height challenged. 

Your allowed your own impression or you can take mine  

Hey Banzai, .... you don't have to go "woe is me" ... your choosing to go there, don't do that. ... you'll stay happy... "happiness is an inside job" not outside job..

We have different opinions ... so what ... that is life.  

I have to admit that I never asked H that question directly it is my simply perception from what I have seen.  After all this... YOU maybe right.

WOLFGANG posted:

Seems like it all boils down to "you get what you pay for."

Where does that leave us, Greg?

Aside from you, myself, and Mango... Which current members have a non widebody CMC / Fiberfab / pan based IM? Is Larry's (@LAbull) car a CMC/FF/PBIM? (Speaking of Larry... Where has he been?) Is @coolryde driving a CMC? 

The rest of you need to respect your elders.

TRP posted:
WOLFGANG posted:

Seems like it all boils down to "you get what you pay for."

Where does that leave us, Greg?

Aside from you, myself, and Mango... Which current members have a non widebody CMC / Fiberfab / pan based IM? Is Larry's (@LAbull) car a CMC/FF/PBIM? (Speaking of Larry... Where has he been?) Is @coolryde driving a CMC? 

The rest of you need to respect your elders.

The Bull is rolling in a CMC!

TRP posted:
WOLFGANG posted:

Seems like it all boils down to "you get what you pay for."

Where does that leave us, Greg?

Aside from you, myself, and Mango... Which current members have a non widebody CMC / Fiberfab / pan based IM? Is Larry's (@LAbull) car a CMC/FF/PBIM? (Speaking of Larry... Where has he been?) Is @coolryde driving a CMC? 

The rest of you need to respect your elders.

I admit to being an elder having a 1978 pan based IM. There was an older IM at Carlisle a couple of years back too with a lad from Mass. I think. His serial number was close to mine. Not that many around now though. My serial number is 223 of the 5 or 600 built in Cali. 

I think there's a difference in body lines in the CMC/FF/SB/early IM cars that nobody else has, too -- I may be incorrect, but it seems to me that every CMC (et al) I've seen have that flattened arch on the rear wheel-well opening. In addition, the CMCs and their ilk had about four hundred gauges in the dash, reading 'Classic Reproduction' or something on them.

Another, subtle, difference can be found in the tail lights. Some of them, maybe just a couple Becks lately, have the lens in upside-down. I am not sure if that's a "thing" they're doing at the factory -- or maybe it's a suggestion from someone here. I've flipped mine over since I first saw it done.

If you were to sit inside a Beck, you might also find that the seated position puts you up a little higher off the floor of the car. In a VW-based car, that height is reduced a bit. In mine, which is a complete mutt, I'm almost two inches lower than in the Beck Speedster -- I can't rest my arm on the door tops.

I'm probably not the best basis of comparison. My car's a ham-fisted wreck, compared to most, and my upholsterer was the silver guy in the Wizard of Oz.

You could come to one of the events this year, say ... Carlisle? ... and have a look at all of them, side-by-side. Just a thought?

TRP posted:
WOLFGANG posted:

Seems like it all boils down to "you get what you pay for."

Where does that leave us, Greg?

Aside from you, myself, and Mango... Which current members have a non widebody CMC / Fiberfab / pan based IM? Is Larry's (@LAbull) car a CMC/FF/PBIM? (Speaking of Larry... Where has he been?) Is @coolryde driving a CMC? 

The rest of you need to respect your elders.

I have a CMC!  

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