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Rat Rod Look: Porsche Speedster Replica

Despite looking more like a Halloween prop than a project car, the seller of this Porsche 356 Speedster replica thinks it’s a worthwhile investment for a savvy car builder. His price is low compared to what a finished one of these replicas typically sells for, so he believes there’s a profitable opportunity here for a shrewd owner. The replica features a full buck shell with steel panels welded atop the shell. There is also an engine included, said to be from a very early VW Beetle. Of course, the chassis is also from a Bug, so it’s hardly exotic, but the driving sensation can be improved with updated suspension and tires; more power, however, will require an engine transplant. Find it here on eBay in a classifieds listing from the UK.

Now, I am not one to decide whether this skeleton has been executed to a high level. Given the seller includes multiple photos of the body panels stripped off of it, I would assume he thinks it’s pretty high quality in terms of construction. In a sense, this is a terrific way to see how similar the original Beetle and Porsche 356 were in design, even though this is simply a replica of the seller’s own construction. The point still stands that the bathtub shape of the 356 can easily be confused with a Beetle if you simply built the framing up a little higher to encompass full doors, side glass, and a windshield, and voila – you have the VW Beetle.

Now, as far as the engine goes, the first thing I would do is ditch the early VW Beetle motor and find a suitable modern replacement. The Subaru flat-four seems like a logical swap, especially given it’s been done plenty of times with obvious benefits. The Beetle engine may actually nab a decent price if it goes to a buyer who is putting an early model back on the road and wants it to have a correct date-coded engine. While I get that keeping it air-cooled is the obvious choice for heritage’s sake, the price of original Porsche 356 engines has gone quite high along with everything else Porsche-branded from that era, so a modern engine transplant may offer you the best bang for your buck.

Now, this is clearly a rendering given how goofy the rear wheels and arches look in this picture. I don’t mind where the seller was going with his build, and I especially like the windshield design. However, you really have to be a big fan of the patina craze to want your custom replica build to end up like this. The Speedster is an iconic design, and it deserves just a little better than this; still, a slightly ratty and slammed Speedster would likely get plenty of thumbs up no matter where it goes. What would you do with a replica like this – would you make it into a sympathetic replica or create a rat rod like the seller had imagined?


  1. CCFisher

    “His price is low compared to what a finished one of these replicas typically sells for”

    Ummm….. shouldn’t it be?

    Like 5
  2. Raymond L Saunders

    All that steel looks heavier than a full bodied beetle….

    Like 7
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    All else aside, this builder is an experienced metal worker. If the sheet metal isn’t thicker than that on the “real” Speedsters it’s not going to weigh more just because of the lack of interior supports. Use aluminum for those and you’ve got something.

    Like 1
  4. wuzjeepnowsaab

    The shaping and those welds are cool. This guy knows what he’s doing

    Like 2
  5. BrianT Brian Member

    I’mjust glad that this is in the UK. No, really, I’m glad it is in the UK.

    Like 4
  6. Richard Kirschenbaum

    There are steel 356 panels available were you to wish to build a steel replica as well as I’m sure a 356 floor pan replica. As to using a Subaru mill, wouldn’t
    hopping up a VW mill make for the true experience as opposed to
    “superior performance?”

    Like 1
  7. Johnny C.

    I hate “rat rods”!

    Like 5
  8. Shuttle Guy Shuttle Guy Member

    Someone was very bored. The wife must have made him quit drinking. :)

    Like 3
  9. SebastianX1/9

    That’s a big ashtray!

    Like 1
  10. Pugsy

    A lot of funny statements like “the guy knew what he was doing”, “He’s an experienced metal worker”……sorry, not even close. Those panels are so far off, they cannot be saved. They are all scrap. There is very little crown in the panels. It almost looks like they are formed in one direction only, rather than much of a compound curve.

    Like 3
    • Al

      The metal was formed with an axe, chainsaw, pair of pliers and an adjustable spanner (the last one is “only in England” , righty-oh (maybe that’s last-rites.))

      Like 8
  11. bog

    Well, it “ended”. No info re: sold nor relisted. Perhaps he had change of heart.
    I agree with many of the comments. Builder has at least some skills, and his stated goal was a “rat rod”. Goodness knows why. (Question for the ages..)

    It ,indeed, appears far heavier than either a Bug or a vintage Porsche, and choice of engine would have to be bigger/better with likely more work to chassis to handle power, and brakes to then stop it.

    An attorney friend has one of those re-imagined 550s with an air-cooled 911S engine, it’s fabulous. (and expensive, but not so expensive to be undriveable)

    Like 0

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