SALES@specialtyauto.com

Questions and Answers

Why don't you build VW Speedsters anymore ? -  The reasons we ceased building air-cooled VW based cars in year 2000 after having built dozens since 1980 were many:

  •       A decreasing ability to readily procure salvageable 30 to 40 year old Volkswagens for the donor suspension-steering-braking  parts and platform for your "brand new" Speedster. 

  •       A less than desirable quality and poor reliability track record of affordable rebuilt (or even new) air-cooled engines and transaxles.

  •       Because of declining popularity in air-cooled cars, our major parts houses quit selling so many of the VW parts typically required to properly assemble the suspension, brakes, steering, and driveline.

  •       Our typical clients have no interest in performing the ritual maintenance requirements of the VW, and the number of air-cooled VW shops available to perform these maintenance requirements for them is rapidly diminishing.

      Even though we were willing to wait weeks in order to source and procure parts to assemble a VW Speedster in the comfort of our shop, being broken down in Topeka on an enjoyable road tour and waiting several days for a cable, brake drum, alternator, starter or similar part is not appealing. This problem is compounded if your air-cooled VW Speedster is constructed from custom or high performance after market suspension or engine parts typically available only from one or limited sources.  Being away from home in our Speedster should be of no concern.

      Why did you decide to design and build the water-cooled Speedster ? -  The Speedster is one of the most recognized and appreciated classics on the road, and when we announced we were, after 20 years,  no longer building VW based Speedsters in year 2000 we still received a continuous flow of assembly requests and astonishment of our decision.  Unfortunately the pool of worn out Beetle donor platform parts and available poor quality engines, transaxles, and replacement parts coupled with the traditional quirks of the air-cooled platform made the assembly of these cars too risky from a warranty, safety, and customer satisfaction consideration.

      After two and a half years of withdrawal from the VW Speedster market we decided to review the situation and determine if things had improved sufficiently to re-enter.  Our discovery was that it had only worsened, and it was at that time we decided that the only way we could build Speedsters would be in the same way we build every other custom car in our shop ... use the classic body style with a truly modern chassis, driveline, and performance.  After creating a long laundry list of historic and current "issues" relative to the VW Speedster, we decided that if we could eliminate or alleviate the greater portion by custom designing a "new" Speedster and not change its classic looks we would give it serious consideration.  Obviously we feel we have accomplished this goal and the presentation of this accomplishment is presented herein.

      We feel we have given the Speedster a new life of reliability, performance,  and enjoyment in the same way that VW and Porsche did in 1998 by converting those air-cooled cars to a water-cooled, fuel-injected, and front-wheel drive (VW) platform.

What specially constructed car choices do I have ?

Generally speaking the specialty car industry can be divided as follows:  Replica or kit car, Street Rod, custom car, limited production.

Replica or Kit Car - these are constructed using a fiberglass body imitating a desirable classic or exotic car which is then married to the mechanical and electrical systems of another popular production donor car in order to produce a cost effective imitation of the original desirable car.  The cars typically incorporate the used suspensions, brakes, engines, etc of the donor car and are only upgraded as required.  Since the donor systems are used as removed from the donor car in depth knowledge and understanding of their functions is not necessary, but mechanical assembly skills similar to a repair garage are required.

Street Rod -  This is a big step up from a kit car in that the classic bodies of choice can be from an original car or a fiberglass replica.  The out-dated and awkward mechanical and electrical systems are typically scrapped and a composite of parts from many different donor sources are used to make the car faster, safer, and more comfortable.  A good knowledge of these systems and parts is required in order to make prudent decisions as to their use.  The parts used for assembly will be a combination of new and used.  Body shop and mechanical skills are required, but very little systems engineering skills are required.

Custom car -  a custom car is neither a replica nor a street rod.  It has a style and appearance that is unrecognizable as an original car, and normally will be one of a kind.  It incorporates parts and systems from donor cars but usually has a high degree of custom built and designed parts and systems usually unique and innovative.  These cars, although not always, are more for appearance than for practical driving purposes.  Builders of these cars must have a broad automotive knowledge and skills to bring all of these systems together to make a total vehicle.  Engineering abilities are required in many areas of a custom car in addition to body shop and mechanical skills.

Limited Production - these cars are designed and built from the ground up, and will be produced in very low quantities.  They can be replicas of desirable cars or even custom type designs.  They may use exotic parts from other vehicles but the basic configuration is unique, and the responsibility of appropriate choice and safety considerations is solely in the hands of the designer and builder. A very high degree of engineering knowledge, welding, fasteners, fabrication abilities, system understanding, and vehicle dynamics is essential.  Only properly trained individuals and shops of proven skills should embrace limited production.  Limited production cars do not have to meet all of the federally mandated requirements of new OEM cars, but do have to meet emissions and DOT safety requirements as a minimum.

Which type of car is the VW based Speedster ?

By definition most VW based Speedsters are kit cars.  All VW-Speedster companies sell their car as a kit and also a turnkey assembly.  They were created many years ago for that purpose and still embrace the philosophy of using an older donor car to be the foundation of the imitation body.  Virtually all of the parts including the chassis are used, but are upgraded wherever possible.  The decrease in VW parts and donor car availability is making upgrading more difficult.  The fact that virtually all of the VW donor cars used are between 30-45 years old raises questions about the safety of these critical suspension, steering, and braking parts.  A few Speedster producers have admirably moved a step towards a street rod philosophy by modifying the chassis and using some after market parts, but the basic suspension, steering, brakes, and driveline remain VW Beetle.  To support this point in the past virtually all VW based Speedsters were registered and licensed using the donor VW Beetle title.  However, this practice is illegal since the original identity of the car was lost during the transition and most states require that the original title be relinquished and a new specially constructed title issued.

Which type of car is the water-cooled Speedster ?

Our water-cooled Speedsters are Replicas.  Our Speedster "kit" is only sold with a complete assembly package.. The entire suspension, chassis, braking, and driveline systems are designed using modern parts for proper and safe operation.  Virtually all of the wearing suspension, braking, steering, and chassis parts are new and have never been in service.  Only the recognizable fiberglass body shell of the Speedster and its ornamentation were used from industry sources.  The water-cooled Speedster was designed around the very reliable Subaru engines, transmissions, suspensions and brakes plus  their sophisticated USA-EPA legal OBD II CAN-bus engine management system.  A high degree of systems and component integration was required as well as assurance of structural and operational correctness through extensive engineering design and testing.  Our water-cooled Speedster is registered using our Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (MCO) displaying a unique ID number along with other pertinent driveline ID data.

Is a VW Speedster replica more like the "original" than the water-cooled Speedster ?

Yes and No.  I doubt that you would find nor would you want a Speedster replica "exactly" like the original.  The original Speedster had 36hp, 4 speed manual transaxle, kingpin front suspension, swing axle rear suspension, small drum brakes, rubber floor mats, and no radio to name a few.

The typical VW Speedster replica today has 50 to 63hp, 4 speed manual transaxle, ball joint front suspension, independent rear suspension, drum brakes, carpeted floors, radio-CD players.  However, there are clear deviations from correct wheelbase and track, floor shape and interior room, center tunnel, park brake handle location, etc.

Our water-cooled Speedster replica was created to remove all of the antique suspension and driveline , and provide a more sophisticated and modern replacement without being visibly apparent.  Additionally, since we were not married to the VW Beetle platform shape and design our Speedster has a more accurate dimensional specification and external appearance with a correct appearing and more comfortable interior.

It might boil down to some as to which form of deviation from the "original" Speedster do you prefer.

  SALES@specialtyauto.com