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Reader test: Porsche Replica

2009-08-21 14:54

Gary Bloom

I believe that everyone should have a toy, something that they don't share with others. While not always very practical, no matter what it is, it should bring a smile to your face.
Enter the VW Beetle-based Porsche Speedster Replica.
In basic form, this car is nothing more than an old VW beetle and drives and handles much like the donor car it's based on. However with minor tweaks and some changes, it can be turned into something rather special. I do not drive this car everyday; this is a special occasion car. It's a lot of fun and turns heads wherever I go. It’s drop-top motoring in its simplest form.

Living with a Replica
This particular Speedster basically runs with standard VW beetle running gear, but it weighs only 740 kg which makes for interesting driving.

It handles like a go-kart and is very, very low to the ground. The braking is solid even with standard Beetle non-adjusting drums.

It does have a soft top for when you're caught in the rain, but even for the Porsche Speedster (on which this car is based) it's stated that this is for emergencies only.

Build quality is basic, to say the least. It uses hand-laid fibreglass with a steel frame that’s been bolted on top of a shortened Beetle chassis.

There’s not much in the lines of comfort - the Speedster's seats are almost on the floor pan and there is little to no sound deadening in the car at all. The inside is noisy with the roof up, but seeing that it’s going to be down, is this really an issue?

When the electrics consist of lights, wipers and the horn, there’s not much that can go wrong. The Speedster versions don’t even lock, so a gear lock is a must. There is a lockable compartment behind the seats that can be used to lock up anything of value, though.

Making your mark

As with anything in life, the costs start to climb when you start to personalise. Original Porsche items such as badges, mirrors, gauges, steering wheel, steel rims and motor swaps can quickly add R40 000 or more to the price.

When going this route, the internet is your best friend. There are a lot of internet-based clubs and the people involved with these replicas are usually very down to earth and friendly.
The market on these is somewhat small and exclusive, so the prices do reflect that. Expect a nice runner in good condition for upwards of R50 000.

Service and upkeep is the same as an old VW Beetle, unless you start with the upgrades. A pristine used example with Porsche components can fetch over R100 000.

But if you’re feeling daring, you can go the bargain route like I did and pay a little over R30 000 for a very basic one with no trim or extras whatsoever and do it up yourself.

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