UPDATE (11/19/2021) The car is still available! My prospective buyer put down a non-refundable deposit, drove 2000+ miles from Utah with a trailer, inspected the car intently (he’s a former insurance appraiser), pronounced it very good, lowered himself in the driver’s seat for half an hour, discussed adjusting the pedals to get more leg room (can be done, I think!) agreed to meet at the bank this morning to consummate the deal, then called last night with misgivings: his hips hurt; he doesn’t fit comfortably in the driver’s seat. This morning he canceled the sale.Continue reading
Compare and contrast
As I’ve slowly been sorting the car over the past few months, I’ve taken to amusing myself by trying to replicate some of the pictures of the real 550s I took as inspiration for this build. The hardest part so far is getting the focal length right. Second hardest is the variabilities within the exposures—the way shadows and highlights play. A couple of examples:
This is a photo of 550-0060’s dashboard. That’s the ex-Seinfeld car that was never raced and hardly touched since Max Hoffman moved it along back in the day.
The interior clamshell detail with the spare tire. I don’t know which car this is, but suspect it’s 550-0090:
And my car:
I’ll keep trying as I gather up pictures and video for the sales effort.
Building T (part 2)
Drove the Spyder the 100 miles or so to Mechanicsburg and then to the Carlisle Import and Performance Nationals last weekend, and the car pleased the crowds in Building T and elsewhere as expected—though not without a few complications.
We started out a few days before with an oil change and a chance to clean up some minor issues.
This sump plate had been dripping just a bit for years—the farthest right stud was short and its acorn nut was missing the copper washer. I bought a new gasket set and changed it out, adding that center drain plug while I was at it. The result? No “marking of the territory” for the first time since I’ve owned the car.Continue reading
The Black Box: Ignition
The Spyder now has a fully-programmable computerized spark advance system that looks like it belongs in there.Continue reading
Somehow I ended up with a spare piece of 16 gauge 5052 aluminum sheet, exactly 2×4 feet. With the Spyder laid up on the rack for the winter I got to thinking about how to incorporate it into the project, as a finishing touch.
The answer was obvious: the hard half tonneau.
Rare Car Network
Very honored that Rare Car Network (fka ReinCarNation) magazine accepted my words and pics for publication on their site..
502 Motorworks is currently auctioning off its second Spyder build on Bring a Trailer [Update 11/3: the $160,000 high bid did not meet reserve]. It is a stunning replica, in all aluminum, of an original 550 late production low-rail car—accurate enough to have received an FIA historic race passport, meaning it is cleared to potentially campaign against real historic race cars including original 550 RS Spyders.
The car, equipped with a Porsche 1500 “Super” pushrod engine, reportedly cost most of $300,000 to build. This puts it in the stratosphere of the replica world. The kind of thing the owner of a real 550 would buy so he’d have something to drive on the road—or the track.
Which is to say, it’s far beyond comparison to my modest home garage effort.
But let’s do it anyway.Continue reading
Oil cooler added (and sway bar improvements)
Testing the Spyder on public roads brought new data: she was running too hot. Even on a cool morning, ambient temps 80F, driving easy (30-45mph) on flat roads, the oil temperature gauge crept up past 80, past 100 (i.e. 212F), up near 110C. That’s close to 230F, and at that temp VW gurus say you better shut ‘er down and investigate. Good modern oils like the Brad Penn we’re using don’t really mind those temps, and racers run long-term with oil over 260F.
But 230F in a Type 1 means the heads are probably too hot. Hot heads on a Type 1 engine are bad for longevity.
I ran the car for over an hour one morning, took video, and shut down when the gauge got up over 105C.Continue reading
Sorting is fun: front beam rebuild
It started with a low brake pedal. It ended with a complete rebuild of the front torsion beam. Continue reading
Assembly complete. Now the sorting
Last weekend I pressed my lovely wife into service once again and we set the engine cover back down on the car and pinned the hinges, completing the Final Assembly phase of this build.
The car starts, runs and drives and is ready for fettling and registration.