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Dyno Time Only: 911-Powered Beck 550 Roadster

Beck Spyders are a worthy alternative to the real-deal Porsche 550 Spyders, considering the five-figure price difference between a kit car and the genuine article. This unfinished project is seemingly close to being complete, with an assembled 911 engine already sitting behind the driver’s head. The bodywork obviously needs some finish work and paint, but it’s sorely tempting to skip that for now and just drive the doors off of it, primer and all. Find it here on craigslist for $40K in Palm Springs.

The seller doesn’t offer much in the way of history around the Beck, but the details seem tantalizing: 911 motor with hydraulic tensioners paired to a 901/914 5-speed side shift transmission. A fun anecdote is that the seller mentions the engine was a spare from the Bullwinkle Racing Team, which has some notoriety both for its on-track successes and for purchasing a 1974 911S race car campaigned by Paul Newman and Bill Freeman. The motor is said to have “dyno time only” which should mean the mileage is quite low.

Of the various reports I’ve read from road test editors, most all of them conclude the Beck 550 is somewhat crude but also heaps of fun. They’ll sell you one with a Volkswagen motor in various states of tune, the higher performance one able to turn in some fairly scathing 0-60 times. I can’t imagine what it’s like with a full-fledged 911 race motor mounted mid-ship (actually, I can, and it looks like hilarious and potentially lethal amounts of grin-inducing fun.) By the way, thanks to Barn Finds reader Levi Andrus for the find.

It’s hard to tell if the shell has been damaged in anyway or is just dirty from years of storage and being shuffled around. While $40K may seem steep, the car is seemingly built with high-grade pars, as the suspension includes “….928 front spindles with double wishbone. Rear is a 5 link / Koni 8215 coilovers all around.” Plus, there’s a healthy spares list included with the sale, including “…Beck seats, 911 steering rack, extra 911 2.7 /unassembled, extra transmission, Nardi wheel, Wilwood brakes, Tifton pedals and cylinders. Lots of parts, lights, gauges, etc.” While you always wonder why a project like this has stalled, you also likely couldn’t replicate it for the money being asked for here.


  1. Uncle Bob

    Well now, there’s some fond memories. I was Chuck’s second paying customer back in the early ’80s, mine was Chassis 006. Beck was a fascinating guy and a very handy fabricator. The car was a hoot to drive on nice days. Mine was far more pedestrian than this one having used the VW air cooled components it was designed for. But mine didn’t just sit in a garage for years either. Prices for these have sure gone up in the past 30+ years…….

    Like 8
    • Mike

      Fifteen years ago I passed on a warmed up 1835cc v/w Beck 550 that was sitting for sale at a garage sale for 12,500 . It was done up as a lil bastard wannabe .

      Like 1
  2. wuzjeepnowsaab

    This seems like a very fair price for a Beck, especially with the 6 in it. A great price even.

    Like 3
  3. 8banger dave Member

    Ditch the Fram oil filter!

    Like 2
  4. Dolphin Member

    An important part of the description in the CL ad is the engine, but even more are the Wilwood brakes. The engine power means that skimping on brakes (I was half expecting to see VW brakes on this car) would be….not good….at all.

    Lots of special equipment in this sale, but is it worth $40K?

    I don’t think so, unless you have lots of cash to throw at a track toy. That money will buy you a lot of car, or cars, even these days.

    Like 2
  5. DayDreamBeliever Alan (Michigan)

    While the engine may be in it’s driving location, it appears to me to be far from ready to run. Plenty of finish time is needed, and I hope that all of the parts and plumbing items are still around. Easy to see that many of the necessary accessories are not bolted into their places. Looking at this has me wondering: Where would the cooling air for the 6 come from, between the seats? The fan and housing are not installed.

    Something else that I wonder: Being that the 911 motor is now in front of the transaxle, has it been set up for reverse-rotation? Where would the fan come from which would send the air across the cylinders and heads? Maybe the ring gear could be side-swapped, and the motor run in the rotation normal for the 911?

    Mostly just curious…. This looks like a BLAST!

    Like 3
    • Uncle Bob

      Yes, flip the ring gear.

      Like 1
  6. Steve

    Looks like scary fun.

    Like 0
  7. Adam Wright

    I think I’ll keep working on mine, out of aluminum

    Like 4
    • Adam Wright

      Back end shot.

      Like 5
    • Mike W_H_ Mike W H Member


      Like 0

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