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Old 08-15-2007, 10:04 AM   #1
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Beck 550 Sypder

so cool and for not allot of dough...

Beck Spyder


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Old 08-15-2007, 11:29 AM   #2
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I was on the Beck website the other day. Looks like "turn-key" examples, in rather "basic" form, are about $32K. That gives you a 125hp 1.9l 4cyl.. pushing about 1200lbs..

The Speedsters are a little cheaper (maybe $25K for turn-key), but a little heavier.

There is a place, I think called JPS, that makes not only speedster "kits" but now also makes early (think '58-59 356A) coupes too.
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Old 08-15-2007, 12:21 PM   #3
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Hi,

I've got a Car Friend who is the original owner of a genuine Porsche 550 Spyder - #47 (bought it at 24, he's 76 now).

At $1.5M+, he cannot afford to have a new driver, or immigrant w/o insurance, etc., hit him, so he can no longer drive it. He does bring it out to several Car Shows annually via covered trailer.

So, he got a Beck Spyder several years ago. He loves it. Says it's actually a much better car than the original - more Power, better Suspension and Brakes, better Handling, much more solid, easier maintenance. He's put over 30k mi. on the Beck. I also got the chance to drive them both, and I have to agree.

I asked him if he should sell #47, that he could then buy both a CGT, GT3, and a Turbo, all of which he could drive, and still realize about a $900k - $1.1M profit. He replied: "Uh, No..."

Happy Motoring!... Jim

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Old 08-15-2007, 12:30 PM   #4
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here's a beck for sale if you want it...

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/car/397735892.html
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Old 08-15-2007, 12:41 PM   #5
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550

The September issue of Car and Driver just ran an article on Kit cars and featured the Thunder Ranch 550A. I believe he price quoted in the article was $23K new. Cheap fun boys and girls.

I developed and manage their web site: thunderranch.com and the owner, Tom McBurnie was a bit disappointed when I sold my restored '67S and bought a Boxster instead of a 550. The replicas are nice cars but after early 911 and 912 ownership I wanted air conditioning and refinement. I still have vivid memories of traveling to business meetings during the summer from San Diego to LA and getting out of the air cooled cars dripping with sweat just in time to make a presentation. No Mas!

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Old 08-15-2007, 12:49 PM   #6
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There are several companies that make the replicas.

At a car show a few years ago I saw the real thing. Unrestored but all original. Next to it was a Boxster. The Spyder is a tiny car.

As I said in another thread, one of our Boxster owners also has a Beck. This is a front picture of it before we went on the Laguna Seca track for parade laps.
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Old 08-15-2007, 12:51 PM   #7
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Rear shot.

Wish I had room in my garage for one.
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Old 08-15-2007, 12:59 PM   #8
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MN,
so yer friends original 550, what sort of ceiling is there are on an insurance policy for $1.5 million car? That must be some monthly payment!
Reminds me of the Enzo that was recently wrecked when that Hollywood producer guy let Eddie Griffith(?) drive it. The producer actually made a profit on the totaled Enzo. He Paid $1Million but got $2+Million from the insurance which made sense since it was a limited production car.

Interesting about the Beck being faster, I always had this false impression that the 550 James Dean died in was some ultra powerful racing car that was hard to handle.
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Old 08-15-2007, 01:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Newby
The September issue of Car and Driver just ran an article on Kit cars and featured the Thunder Ranch 550A. I believe he price quoted in the article was $23K new. Cheap fun boys and girls.

I developed and manage their web site: thunderranch.com
Keith
I would love to take a spin in their new 904 replica. Have you gotten to see/ drive it?
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Old 08-15-2007, 01:21 PM   #10
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The potentially uncomfortable part is when you realize a BOXSTER looks large next to one, imagine how easily a Ford Expedition/Excursion could crush you.. yikes!


That said, I agree with the above comments that the originals are simply much to valuable to truly be enjoyed anymore, other than by looking at them. 4-cam motors cost about $100,000 to replace/rebuild.

Dropping 30K on a car that looks quite close to a $1-2million genuine article is a powerful argument and well, the fun factor has to be high!

I think the "base" price is $23, but that doesn't include a motor.. which are speced at $6K-??? (mmm jake raby 2316 with 180hp? about 10K) then, with such a big motor, one might consider 4wheel discs etc.. so I think an OTD price of a completed one is closer to $32K
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Old 08-15-2007, 01:28 PM   #11
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The fun factor is huge. I had a Beck Spyder that was built in '99 with the 2160cc motor in it which has about 150HP vs. the 125HP in the smaller motor.

It was a blast to drive around, but very impractical obviously vs. the 986. I would recommend if any of you get one that you go with the 3.88 (called "freeway flier") ring and pinion ratio in the tranny so you lower the RPM's a little. You will give up a tiny bit of snap in low gear, but you have plenty when you are pushing 1250lbs with 150HP.

I sold it because a guy offered $5k more than I paid for it, but there are plenty of days I wish I had it back.

Later

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Old 08-15-2007, 01:43 PM   #12
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904

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Kill
I would love to take a spin in their new 904 replica. Have you gotten to see/ drive it?
Now that would be the car to own (I might even give up on having AC). A fiberglas composite reproduction of an actual fiberglas composite Porsche, and they pulled their molds from an actual 904. A four cam would be wonderful but a PIA to keep running...I have friends who have run them. A 2.0 engine was also fitted which would be ideal if you could find one. A 2.7 would be just fine for my taste.

Thunder Ranch has finished the body and recently completed the frame. As I understand it they will be bonded together within a week or two. Once that's done a complete car can only be a few months away. So to answer your question I haven't ridden in one yet. Can't wait.

Keith
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Old 08-15-2007, 02:25 PM   #13
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Hmmmmm,

at this time this WAS an ultra powerful race car that was hard to handle.
Porsche actually sent an engineer to train James Dean on how to handle the car. Dean had raced 356es before and that was the first time for him to take a 550 to the race track (It's always referred to as "Salinas", which I guess makes it Laguna Seca). Due to his celebrity he actually got priority in the waiting list for the car.
The engineer was sitting in the passenger seat next to James Dean at the time of the accident but was thrown from the car and survived (I believe with minor injuries).
I think the "hard to handle" part comes from the fact that the suspension that was used on the 550 was, well state of the art in the 50 ies, but had the tendency to snap within split seconds from understeer to severe oversteer and then the car turned into a handful, especially in the hand of an inexperienced driver.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Perfectlap
I always had this false impression that the 550 James Dean died in was some ultra powerful racing car that was hard to handle.
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Old 08-16-2007, 08:19 AM   #14
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The guy with Dean was Rolf Wutherich, a Porsche factory mechanic dispatched to the US for a while to tend to 550s sold to customers. Competition Motors received a shipment of 8 550s, one of which (#550-055) was sold to Dean. Part of the sales agreement was that Wutherich would serve as Dean's mechanic at races.
Salinas was to be the first race for the car. Dean and Wutherich drove the car instead of trailering it because the car was still so new it only had a few hundred miles on it, and Wutherich wanted at least 1,500 miles before it was raced.

Photographer Miles Collier (I think that was his name) followed along in Dean's Ford station wagon towing a trailer. That's why there are photos of Dean on that "last ride". Of course Dean outpaced the wagon through the hills east of Cholame, so Collier didn't actually witness the crash.

Wutherich recovered from his injuries and stayed in the US for a few years mothering other cars, but ultimately returned to Germany, where he died in a road crash in 1981.

Salinas was, I believe, at the time (1955) an airport circuit, not the Laguna Seca track we have today.
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Old 08-16-2007, 08:51 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisZang
Hmmmmm,

at this time this WAS an ultra powerful race car that was hard to handle.
Porsche actually sent an engineer to train James Dean on how to handle the car. Dean had raced 356es before and that was the first time for him to take a 550 to the race track (It's always referred to as "Salinas", which I guess makes it Laguna Seca). Due to his celebrity he actually got priority in the waiting list for the car.
The engineer was sitting in the passenger seat next to James Dean at the time of the accident but was thrown from the car and survived (I believe with minor injuries).
I think the "hard to handle" part comes from the fact that the suspension that was used on the 550 was, well state of the art in the 50 ies, but had the tendency to snap within split seconds from understeer to severe oversteer and then the car turned into a handful, especially in the hand of an inexperienced driver.
Yes, James Dan was actualy on his way to a race after just picking up his new car only hours earlier that morning. His personal mechanic/engineer was thrown from the car and received a few broken ribs. Dean died instantly when the larger than life steering wheel broke his neck upon impact with the other car just before ejecting the mechanic and doing a seriers of tumbles and sumersults into the air. It finaly came to rest at a telephone pole. Dean had also received a speeding ticket just a few hours earlier that day. However, the mechanic said Dean was not speeding at the time of the accident, and that the the driver of the the Ford that turned infront of them was unexpected and unavoidable. By the way, I'm a huge James Dean fan and thats how I know all this info.
Here are some pitures of Dean's 550 Sypder with Red stripes on the rear. There were different colors used to signify different meanings for the drivers and car owners. Red meant engineer/mechanic, while yellow, green and blue were also used. I'm not sure what the other colors meant.

Dean also had the name "Little Bastard" painted on the back of his car. It was a nickname that the producer gave him while working on the set of Giant the movie. Dean felt it was a good name since his father told him one day that he may not be his real father, hence the nickname.

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Old 08-16-2007, 08:58 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by porsche986spyder
By the way, I'm a huge James Dean fan and thats how I know all this info.
Is that why you drive a silver Boxster, or did you become a James Dean fan as some sort of result of driving a silver Boxster, or are the two items just unrelated?
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Old 08-16-2007, 09:08 AM   #17
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Is that why you drive a silver Boxster, or did you become a James Dean fan as some sort of result of driving a silver Boxster, or are the two items just unrelated?
Yep, I wanted the silver for that reason. But I was a Dean fan way before I bought my Boxster. And a die hard Porsche fan too. I wanted silver but actualy settled for the Metalic Seal Grey. I thought it was better looking and a little bit more modern of paint color. It's hard to tell the 2 colors apart from my pictures. Check out my earlier post. Shows Dean's race number and car replica paint sceme. Here is "The Last Ride" picture.

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Old 08-16-2007, 09:48 AM   #18
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I don't know that we need to get into a battle of James Dean minutae, but Dean had actually had the 550 for a couple of weeks. Time enough for him to have been on several rides around Hollywood and the surrounding hills, and for him to have had a mishap that banged up the left front corner.
I agree he did pick it up from Competition Mtrs. on Sat. morning, but that was from preparation for the race, not the original purchase.
As I recall George Barris fixed the body damage at the same time that he painted "Little Bastard" on the tail. Note the missing left parking light lens, the remains of that incident.
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Old 08-16-2007, 10:26 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronzi
I don't know that we need to get into a battle of James Dean minutae, but Dean had actually had the 550 for a couple of weeks. Time enough for him to have been on several rides around Hollywood and the surrounding hills, and for him to have had a mishap that banged up the left front corner.
I agree he did pick it up from Competition Mtrs. on Sat. morning, but that was from preparation for the race, not the original purchase.
As I recall George Barris fixed the body damage at the same time that he painted "Little Bastard" on the tail. Note the missing left parking light lens, the remains of that incident.
Yes, your right. He had the car for a few weeks. I meant it was new as in the time frame that he owned it. He had just picked it up earlier that morning like you said after having the name painted on the back.
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Old 08-16-2007, 03:54 PM   #20
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Photographer Miles Collier (I think that was his name) followed along in Dean's Ford station wagon towing a trailer. That's why there are photos of Dean on that "last ride". Of course Dean outpaced the wagon through the hills east of Cholame, so Collier didn't actually witness the crash.
I wasn't even close on the photographer's name. Actually it was Sanford (Sandy) Roth. With him in the Ford wagon, the driver, was actor Bill Hickman.
Roth was working on a photo essay on Dean for a Collier's magazine article.

Roth arrived on the scene in Cholame only a few minutes after the crash and apparently took a large number of photos of the scene and Dean's body. He vowed the pictures would never be published, and except for a few of the more innocuous ones, they never have been.

As a further correction, the trip to Salinas was on Friday, Sept. 30, 1955, not Saturday.
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