By Shari Valenta
Nostalgic about the old Porsches? Why not buy a re-creation of one of these classic racers? A Porsche 356 Speedster reproduction is not as costly as one might think.
The base model starts at $21,000 and features a tubular space-frame chassis that is hand-formed, hot dipped in oil, cleansed and then epoxy painted before baked to 500 degrees. This ensures no rust and a long lasting finish.
The chassis tests to 70 percent more rigidity than the original Porsche 356. Cars can be lifted front or rear with no perceptible distortion. The craftsmanship is better than places that use a cut out flat floor or a used Volkswagen Beetle tub-style chassis. A shapely, lightweight, fiberglass body replaces the aluminum of the 1950s model. Under the hood of the base model is a 1,600 cc classic air-cooled Volkswagen engine. For a little more cash, buyers can upgrade the engine to a liquid-cooled Subaru engine. The 356 Speedster comes with leather interior, door panels, map pockets, dash and gauge cluster, steering wheel, shifter and emergency-brake cover. Full-size spare tire, locking doors, retractable shoulder harness seatbelts, A-frame top, laminated windscreen defroster and heater and are also included.
A place to get one is Boulder Speedster, a two-man operation working passionately out of their garage in Boulder. Car enthusiasts can customize their drive over the phone or make an appointment to pick out parts. They may even get an extra lesson in exotics from owner Luke Richards. He has built re-creations such as the Porsche Spyder 550, Porsche 356 Speedster and the Lister Jaguar for years.
Eric Shimp, the other man behind the metal, is Richard’s loyal friend and trusty grease monkey. He’s a regular guy who simply loves cars. When asked why he likes cars, he replied, “Doesn’t everyone?”
Shimp describes the Lister Jaguar as an automobile with which very few people are familiar.
“Only 26 were made for racing back in the 1950s,” said Shimp. “Chuck Beck is the race car driver who originally designed them. He stopped making them when he lost a friend who died while racing.”
How is Boulder Speedster able to supply these vehicles at low cost?
“It’s because of our connections with Kevin Hines, who worked with the factory in Brazil that originally manufactured the Lister Jag for Chuck Beck,” explained Shimp. “We still work directly with him and his company, Special Edition, Inc. (Home of the Beck Speedster), in Bremen, Indiana.”
The factory uses a mold from the original car.
“We don’t use a chassis of a different car and then try to mold it to fit the speedster,” he explained.
Kevin Hines, who distributes reproductions of Speedsters and Spyders, has given the Boulder mechanics the rights to distribute and service these cars outside his selling area, west of the Mississippi.
Why produce these cars? Is it for the men in mid-life crisis in need of a weekend hotrod?
“No, that is not it,” Shimp scoffs, and then gets serious. “I suppose it’s because there aren’t that many cars available today that are fun to drive and inexpensive at the same time. When our parents finished college during the fifties and sixties, there were cars that didn’t cost much and were fun to drive. You could get Triumphs and MGs for $2,999. Today, there aren’t many exciting and unique cars below $50,000.”
A new addition to Boulder Speedster is a re-creation from one of Britain’s oldest car companies, the AC Company. This beauty features a carbon fiber body that weighs 88 pounds and delivers an awesome power-to-weight ratio.
“We also do a liquid-cooled version of the 550 Spyder made in the 1950s,” Shimp said. “We lowered it, widened it, and made it a little more comfortable and more aesthetically pleasing. The one thing we didn’t do was make it slower. It goes 170 miles per hour. The car we’re selling for under $50,000 is something that’s competing with $200,000 plus.”
Where can you see and test-drive these remarkable reproductions?
“We’re doing shows all over the country and several shows with Airport Journals this summer,” said Shimp.
For more information, visit [http://www.boulderspeedster.com] or call 303-413-1100.