very similar to comparing a modern car with a dune buggy


















During years of enjoyable discussions with potential clients regarding the merits of  Specialty Auto-Sports, Inc.  Subaru powered Speedsters  I found that most  really did not have a sufficient understanding of the typical VW Speedster in order to make a meaningful  comparison.



Comparisons are futile because there is so much to remember  in the presentation.  Because of this information void I have developed a comparison check list to assist prospects in preparing themselves for a valuable exchange of information with the various manufacturers.







'click' on any topic






Virtually all 356A replicas are mostly made out of the USA.......except the  SAS products

Specialty Auto-Sports, Inc.

  • Fiberglass Body and molds-East TN USA

  • Welded Chassis -   East TN  USA

  • Body Assembly -   East TN  USA

  • Final Assembly  -   East TN  USA

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Typical VW based

  • Fiberglass Body and Molds - Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Europe

  • Body Assembly -  Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Europe

  • Final Assembly  -  USA



21st century engines are very efficient and powerful.....1938 design Beetle engines are still a 1938 design

Specialty Auto-Sports, Inc.

  • Subaru  Boxer 4 cylinder 2500cc  (2006-2010 versions)
  • water cooled
  • 170hp      166 #/ft torque
  • Single overhead cam SOHC - no valve adjustment required
  • multiport fuel injection
  • OBDII engine management
  • noise level - quiet
  • Fuel economy -   32-40 mpg (for 170hp version)
  • 6 month/6000 mile engine transaxle warranty




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Typical VW based

  • VW Beetle 4 cylinder 1600cc (1938 design)
  • air-cooled
  • 55hp       77 #/ft  Torque
  • in-block cam with lifters and adjustable rockers
  • 34PICT single throat Carburetor
  • Distributor, points, condenser, rotor
  • noise level - high to very high
  • Fuel economy -  22-29 mpg (for 60 hp version)
  • Try to get "any" warranty on a Beetle engine which is not stock built.





Engine Maintenance:

a case of seldom maintenance vs. constant maintenance

Specialty Auto-Sports, Inc.

  • Replace cam belts (75,000 to 100,000 miles)
  • oil change  3750 miles
  • platinum or iridium tip plugs (100,000 miles)
  • some engines have coil packs


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Typical VW based

  • valve adjustment (1500-2000 miles)
  • oil change 2000 miles
  • points, wires, plugs, condenser, distributor cap, rotor (periodically)
  • carburetor cleaning and adjustment (periodically)





regardless of the "claimed" aftermarket performance engine hp...the driveline components are only capable of the original as delivered by VW HP.

Specialty Auto-Sports, Inc.

designed for OEM 300 + hp capability

  • Subaru 4 Speed Automatic with Overdrive

  • OBDII controlled for optimum efficiency

  • Subaru "sport shift" shift on demand feature

also optional

  • Subaru 5 Speed manual with Overdrive

  • hydraulic clutch

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Typical VW based

designed for OEM 35-60hp capability

  • VW Beetle 4 Speed manual - No overdrive

  • 1938 design and "rebuilt" with used parts from salvaged VW transaxles

  • Cable activated clutch







Suspension and steering

regardless of the "claimed" aftermarket engine hp...the suspension components are only capable of the original as delivered by VW  HP.

Specialty Auto-Sports, Inc.

designed for Subaru  300 + hp capability


  • Subaru Macpherson Strut

  • coil over shocks -  selection of coil rates

  • Rack and pinion steering


  • High performance Subaru double upper wishbone

  • double row cage wheel bearings

  • 3 adjustable lateral links - for alignment

  • coil over shocks - spring rate selectable





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Typical VW based

designed for VW 35-60hp capability


  • VW Beetle front suspension - some with king pin (1938 design) some with ball joint.(1967 design)  Cast trailing suspension arms

  • Stacked leaf torsion strip springing - non adjustable

  • Standard hydraulic shocks - non adjustable

  • Recirculating ball steering with various linkage bars (1938 design)


  • VW Beetle swing arm (1938 design)

  • Welded sheet metal trailing arms

  • spherical single row wheel bearings

  • minimal alignment adjustment

  • hydraulic shocks

  • torsion bar springing - non adjustable





Specialty Auto-Sports, Inc.

designed for Subaru 300+ hp capability

Front - power assisted disc with ABS

  • 12" ventilated  rotors

  • 4 piston Subaru calipers

  • DOT 4 silicone brake fluid

Rear - power assisted disc with ABS

  • Subaru  10-3/4" non-ventilated rotors

  • Subaru Legacy Calipers

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Typical VW based

designed for VW 35- 60 hp capability

Front - drum

  • 1-1/2" shoes with drums

  • Manual   (non-power assisted)

  • DOT 3 brake fluid

Rear - drum

  • 1-1/2" shoes with drums

  • manual  (non-power assisted)




There are some in the industry who claim their Speedster body "sub-frame" is a "structural chassis"

 - is this engineering na´vetÚ ? does this na´vetÚ extend to other areas in the car assembly ?

Specialty Auto-Sports, Inc.

  • Custom engineered structural tube design surrounding the occupants

  • Front and rear diagonally braced structural crush members

  • Steel frame reinforced doors

  • Steel floor

  • Forward steel firewall and foot wells


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Typical VW based

  • VW Beetle pan (1960-1966) shortened

  • Steel 2x4 lower perimeter frame positioned below doors

  • No structure in doors

  • Steel or fiberglass floor

  • No Firewall between tank and occupants

  • fiberglass foot wells





Fuel System


Specialty Auto-Sports, Inc.

  • 15+/- Gallon fuel tank

  • electric fuel pump immersed inside tank with top outlet

  • Fuel supply lines run on outside of frame rails

  • located forward of occupant zone - separated by steel firewall and steel floor

  • Surrounded by welded steel impact structure

  • automatic safety fuel shut off in case of fuel line rupture

  • tank secured to welded frame - with metal straps



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Typical VW based

  • 8 Gallon VW Beetle sheet metal gas tank

  • uncontrolled gravity feed tank with outlet on tank bottom -any leaks pour down on the floor of the car or into the battery box.

  • Fuel supply line runs inside car.

  • Tank is located in occupant zone over occupants lap - attached to and separated only by fiberglass trunk floor

  • Surrounded by fiberglass - no impact protection

  • no safety fuel shutoff

  • tank secured to 1/8" thick fiberglass trunk floor with bolts and washers






Engine Cooling System


Specialty Auto-Sports, Inc.

  • High efficiency double pass custom aluminum radiator - rear mount

  • Two 10" fans controlled by OBDII computer

  • One fan runs at low rpm constant on

  • One fan runs at high rpm  - "on" only at elevated temperatures and/or AC on - computer controlled


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Typical VW based

  • Belt driven fan blowing air through a sheet metal housing and over the engine cooling fins

  • Air flow direction controlled by sheet metal shrouds on top of engine

  • Very noisy system especially at high rpm

  • Losing a belt usually results in a cooked engine





Specialty Auto-Sports, Inc.

  • Meets 2006-2013 USA/EPA emissions

  • Maintains catalytic convertors, Oxygen sensors, EGR, tank fumes control, Carbon canister systems, Idle air control

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Typical VW based

  • 1965-1977 VW Beetle emissions levels

  • Import of VW Beetles was halted in the 1977 model year because they could not meet the USA emission and noise control requirements.



Heater-Defroster System


Specialty Auto-Sports, Inc.

  • An independent AC-heater-defroster plenum is hidden from view built into the plenum structure of the car - just like a modern car

  • controls are electric servo actuated which gives a blended variable temperature control.  You can choose to send either only Cool Air or Heated air or a blend through the system.

  • controls also allow bilevel air flow control through the vents - "dash vents only", "blend vents and floor", "floor only", "defrost".  The heat and flow capacity of the defrost system will also "de-ice" windshields.

  • Heat is obtained from thermostatically controlled constant source 195F hot engine water

  • Heat and defrost is delivered by a 3 speed fan delivering a powerful flow to all selections


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Typical VW based

  • There is no heater-defroster plenum

  • Lever control is mounted on the floor tunnel where a connected cable opens a flap on the engine exhaust manifold shroud to allow heat collected from the exhaust manifold to blow back through the steel sub frame and exit at your feet.

  • SAFETY NOTE: you must monitor for leaks at the exhaust manifold that can allow carbon monoxide to enter the heat system and the occupant area.

  • some of this air is tapped and directed to defroster slots on the dash.

  • very little heat or air flow is extracted from this system and virtually no defrost is delivered.







General Data


Specialty Auto-Sports, Inc.

  • Weight Bias -  the true measure of performance handling as attested by the manufacturers of all world class high performance road cars.

  • Our 5 Speed Speedsters have about a 46/54 weight bias which delivers precise directional control, more weight on the front

  • better balanced braking

  • This is achieved by placing the engine mid-ship thereby lowering the polar moment of inertia



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Typical VW based

  • The typical VW Speedster has about a 38/62 weight bias.  Less balance which translates into a lighter front end with less front braking and directional control, and slower responsiveness to driving commands

  • Rear end swing out (swapping ends) on a curve is an "endearing" Porsche characteristic to which any Porsche owner can attest