Classic Porsche 550 Spyder cars fetch multiple millions of dollars at auctions. They are super rare due to their limited production and usually have lots of individual history, which means you can’t just enjoy them on your favorite road. Several companies have stepped in to fill the need for a 550 and the Beck Spyder is by far the most desirable right now.
Replicas or kit cars are big business. We don’t need to tell you that a Backdraft Shelby Cobra goes for a lot of money. But not everybody wants a big Ford V8 under the hood. the Beck sports car can be enjoyed under the speed limit and provides great feedback similar to the icon it imitates.
You sometimes see these things pop up on Bring A Trailer, and it’s pretty funny that they’re listed as American cars. Since one is in the garage of the famous mechanic Car Wizard, this is actually the perfect opportunity to talk in detail about it.
Wizard has a lot of experience with this 550 tribute because about two years ago, Hoovies Garage also had one, powered by a Subaru engine. This one looks like it’s rocking a much less powerful Volkswagen powertrain.
The Beck Porsche 550 Spyder is a beautifully built little thing with a well-made fiberglass body. The cool thing is that Beck developed its own chassis which is made out of 3-inch tubular steel and is probably several times stronger than the Beetle pans that older 550 replicas were based on.
The chassis is somewhat based on the original 550. Obviously, they didn’t make the body the same way, since Porsche didn’t have fiberglass in the 1950s. Craftsmen used to hand-hammer aluminum panels over a frame back in the day; all the fancy race cars were made that way.
It’s wonderful how for the price of a Camry you can have something that looks just like James Dean’s “Little Bastard.” We’re not sure what kind of engine this has, but it’s clearly a horizontally-opposed four-cylinder, possibly a VW 1.9-liter making 125 horsepower, although there was a 2160cc 155-hp engine upgrade that runs just $1000 more. As we talked about in the story of Jay Leno driving the 914, there is a connection between VW and Porsche. However, this Beck probably just has a VW engine that’s dressed to look like it came from Stuttgart.
The Beck Spyder comes equipped with a 4-speed manual transmission, twin I-beam front suspension, and torsion bar rear suspension with adjustable spring plates, discs in the front, and drums in the back. These things only weigh like 1,300 lbs, so they feel nippy even with underpowered engines.
Porsche only made about 90 of the original 550s Spyders back in the 1950s, which means most people have never even seen one. The Beck Spyder is thus great for driving to car shows and getting a lot of attention for the money.
How much money? Well, we couldn’t find a single one for sale right now. But a couple of weeks ago, they old a Beck 550 Spyder on BAT for $36,600. The company’s website is a bit old and outdated, but we know they sell the Spyder one of two ways. Either you get the kit car with no engine for around $20,000 or a complete turn-key car for around $40,000.
The one which Wizard is checking out appears to be much older and has been used. The speedometer reads in km/h instead of mph, which means the odometer showing “38,000” refers to kilometers, which is about 25,000 miles.