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Plant Tour - Beck Speedster/Spyder (pics!)

What could enhance a beautiful summer weekend in Northern Indiana? How about a guided tour of Special Edition, Inc. - assemblers of the Beck Speedster and Spyder located in Bremen, IN. I had no idea that these guys have been building high quality Porsche replicas for the past 26 years right in my backyard! Thanks to a nice writeup in our local newspaper last Sunday, I was finally enlightened. So this past Saturday, I was joined by our Pelican brother "Doug&Julie" (and his brother Gregg) for a visit to Special Edition!

It's a bit of a complicated story, but basically Kevin Hines worked with Chuck Beck for many years building Spyder replicas out of Brazil. Eventually Kevin formed his own company (with his son Carey) in Bremen, IN assembling both '55 Spyder and '57 Speedster replicas. They continue to import the chassis' (tubular steel frame with hand crafted fiberglass body panels) from Brazil and assemble the finished product in Indiana. You can read more about the background and technology at the Special Edition website.

Kevin conducted our tour personally and we got to meet his son Carey as well. They were both very generous with their time and answered every question we could throw at them. Both guys are Class Acts which clearly shines through in their product and their facilities.

Doug will be adding his commentary to this thread, but I can tell you that it was like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for me . Rather that trying to explain it, I think that a few pictures would be more descriptive....

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Matt M. -- Go Irish! 1990 964 C2 Targa
"Cheap tools and no experience has taken its toll" - J.W.

Ghosts of the Past: '77 911S Targa 3.2 Conversion, '89 Carrera Coupe, '99 Boxster, '70 911T Coupe ,'80 911SC Targa, '77.5 924
Old 07-16-2007, 06:13 AM
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Great stuff Matt! I'll be sure to add pics and commentary this evening.

Definitely a "kid in a candy store" moment for all of us!
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Doug
'86 911

PART OF MY SOUL: '76 912E, '06 Cayman S, '90 911 C4, '74 911, '78 911 Targa, '01 Boxster, '70 911T, '99 Boxster (#2), '72 911T, '88 911, '99 Boxster (#1), '84 911 Turbo Look, '73 911 Targa, '88 944
Old 07-16-2007, 06:32 AM
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Hey - that's pretty interesting!

I found out that there is a company in MY backyard building the 904 replicas - www.predatorperformance.com

It is a small world!

- Damion
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Old 07-16-2007, 07:05 AM
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I'd like to also add, that in the on-line replica spyder community, Carey Hines is well know.

Well known as a man who builds a quality product and stands behind it. General all-around good guy.

angela
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Old 07-16-2007, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by djb25
Hey - that's pretty interesting!

I found out that there is a company in MY backyard building the 904 replicas - www.predatorperformance.com

It is a small world!

- Damion
I just heard that last weekend from some car friends in the know. I also heard Chuck Beck is overseeing the operation and so far is not all that happy with the work so he is practically doing it himself.

He may end up taking it away from them and do it on his own. The man is 70+ so he can't keep it up too long. When I spoke with him personally a few months ago he said he was having a really hard time finding the right shop to do the work.

He is a bit of a perfectionist but since he is doing Porsche replicas that is a good thing

The 904 is one of my all time favorite cars. That is one replica I would consider.
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Last edited by jester911; 07-16-2007 at 01:36 PM..
Old 07-16-2007, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jester911
I just heard that last weekend from some car friends in the know. I also heard Chuck Beck is overseeing the operation and so far is not all that happy with the work so he is practically doing it himself.

He may end up taking it away from them and do it on his own. The man is 70+ so he can't keep it up too long. When I spoke with him personally a few months ago he said he was having a really hard time finding the right shop to do the work.

He is a bit of a perfectionist but since he is doing Porsche replicas that is a good thing

The 904 is one of my all time favorite cars. That is one replica I would consider.
That's interesting to hear.

Their shop is about 30 mins. from my hometown in north central pa, (elk county) and prior to seeing the name and address on Chuck Beck's website, I'd never heard of them. I've driven by there since, and it looks like one heck of a place - huge building, beautiful showroom, everything top notch. Someone spent a lot of money putting the place together.

That being said, they were closed, so I didn't see any of their work. They do seem to be very well funded, though.

- Damion
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:11 PM
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Having trouble uploading photos from home tonight... I'll take them to work and try from there.

Overall I have to echo sentiments that these are some quality people and their work shows the same. Kevin seemed like somebody who would fit in just about anywhere and didn't come across at all like a salesman...very genuine...very relaxed...very knowledgable. Some of his stories were very entertaining!

Matt asked a lot of questions I would have about safety and daily driveability...I think the bottom line is these are best left as "weekend toys". Although, evidently there's a guy in Miami that has owned his car two years and has put 50k miles on it! (The safety concerns are about being hit, not about mechanicals or anything related to quality, by the way...so they could be driven daily, but the question is would you want to?)

More later...
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'86 911

PART OF MY SOUL: '76 912E, '06 Cayman S, '90 911 C4, '74 911, '78 911 Targa, '01 Boxster, '70 911T, '99 Boxster (#2), '72 911T, '88 911, '99 Boxster (#1), '84 911 Turbo Look, '73 911 Targa, '88 944
Old 07-16-2007, 02:40 PM
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i consider my 550 as an every fair day driver, there is a young lady in one of our southern states that uses hers as a real everyday driver,rain or else.
i am upgrading to h4 lamps so i will feel a bit safer at night. i love my spyder and am rolling on the miles. that said, i still use my '79sc for almost everything else when i can't take the spyder.
Old 07-16-2007, 03:12 PM
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onlycafe,

That is very interesting! I have read other Spyder owners comment that operating their Sypders in traffic makes them nervous due to the diminutive size of the 550. Do you feel that way? Any safety concerns at all?

Beyond that, though......what is the fun factor of the 550 vs. your SC?

Great comments - thanks for sharing!
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Matt M. -- Go Irish! 1990 964 C2 Targa
"Cheap tools and no experience has taken its toll" - J.W.

Ghosts of the Past: '77 911S Targa 3.2 Conversion, '89 Carrera Coupe, '99 Boxster, '70 911T Coupe ,'80 911SC Targa, '77.5 924
Old 07-16-2007, 03:44 PM
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cubby,
you sit very low in the spyder, the first time i pulled next to a motorcycle i noticed that my head was about the same height as the bikes headlamp. and my head does not light up. so yes, there are visibility issues. i find myself doing more arm waving in the little car, just to be sure that i am seen. that said, there have been a few close calls from the less attentive of drivers.
when i picked the car up in south carolina a couple of years ago i recall the first time i had it on the interstate, really didn't like it on the big slab with the trucks and other cars whizzing along at eighty five mph.
then i got caught in a torrential downpour that allowed me to find out how claustrophobic you can get with the side curtains screwed on and the very low top. looking out the side, you can only see as high as the door handles of your next lane neighbors vehicle. i haven't had the top on it since then. been caught in a few storms since. you can always dry off later.

as far as the spyder vs 911, i should say that since installing a built-up 3.3ltr 10.3 to 1cr , weber carbed, back-dated'73 spec, s cammed, carrillo rodded, blah, blah, etc.[ i must have forgotten something] engine , the fun factor has increased incrementally.
now that you can steer the 911 with the gas pedal it is almost as much fun as the spyder.
i do like the windows and targa top on those rainy days, radio and heater are also a bonus on the 911.
david

p.s. thirty odd years ago i used to drive a cab in new york city, back then i did not feel intimidated by nyc traffic, one of those young lunatics. that might account for a small portion of my "spydie sense" in traffic today.

Last edited by onlycafe; 07-16-2007 at 08:46 PM..
Old 07-16-2007, 04:54 PM
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For those of you that are interested, I'm the Bulletin Board Administrator for the 550 Spyder site located at www.spyderclub.com and if you're interested in the Speedster go to www.speedsterowners.com.

These are bulletin boards are much the same as Pelican however they are devoted to Replica Spyders and Speedsters
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Old 07-16-2007, 05:26 PM
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onlycafe: once again, great stuff. thanks for sharing your experiences! Sounds like you enjoy the Spyder a great deal.

ljowdy: thanks for the links! I already registered for the Speedster forum. If I'm not careful, I might talk myself into one of those
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Matt M. -- Go Irish! 1990 964 C2 Targa
"Cheap tools and no experience has taken its toll" - J.W.

Ghosts of the Past: '77 911S Targa 3.2 Conversion, '89 Carrera Coupe, '99 Boxster, '70 911T Coupe ,'80 911SC Targa, '77.5 924
Old 07-16-2007, 06:35 PM
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OK, here we go...

Gregg (orange shirt) and Matt (white shirt) talking with Kevin Hines (the owner).


Yours truly!


My favorite color...it's a beautiful gray-green. Man I'd like to see this one finished!


My second favorite color...Mexico Blue!


My shot of the garage:
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'86 911

PART OF MY SOUL: '76 912E, '06 Cayman S, '90 911 C4, '74 911, '78 911 Targa, '01 Boxster, '70 911T, '99 Boxster (#2), '72 911T, '88 911, '99 Boxster (#1), '84 911 Turbo Look, '73 911 Targa, '88 944
Old 07-17-2007, 03:37 AM
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More...

My shot of the Speedster on the lift.

Notice the orders hanging along the wall? These guys had an article in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago. That week they took 27 orders just from that exposure!

This is not an actuall 356, but a fiberglass replica Kevin made some 20 years ago! Very impressive...


Right hand drive models:


And just to keep a little bit of 911 content, here are Matt and Gregg's drivers.


Matt was kind enough to let me drive his car. Man I'd forgotten what a smooth shifting 911 felt like!


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Doug
'86 911

PART OF MY SOUL: '76 912E, '06 Cayman S, '90 911 C4, '74 911, '78 911 Targa, '01 Boxster, '70 911T, '99 Boxster (#2), '72 911T, '88 911, '99 Boxster (#1), '84 911 Turbo Look, '73 911 Targa, '88 944
Old 07-17-2007, 03:42 AM
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