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Reincarnation Magazine
Continuation, Reproduction and Replica Automobiles
Rein Car Nation Cover Winter 2020
						Subaru 718 Rsk 1
Needs Head Gaskets: Thunder Ranch 718 RSK Spyder

Subaru-powered 718 RSK Spyder replica

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Craigslist

Overheating issues and blown head gaskets are a common failure on Subaru EJ-series flat-fours.* And that situation won’t improve at all when you remove one from a front-engine commuter and plant it into a rear-mid engine sports car. That’s precisely the situation that froze the odometer of this 718 RSK replica at a mere 325 miles, and prompted the seller to list it as a roller. Offered here on Monterey Craigslist for $27,450, this 718 RSK Spyder replica offers Subbie flat-four-powered thrills to the right wrench-savvy buyer.

The kit was originally sold by Thunder Ranch in El Cajon, California, before the company’s assets were purchased by Rock West Racing in San Diego. While Rock West is not currently producing Porsche replicas, its products remain well respected within the community.

This 718 was originally purchased and assembled with a VW Type 1 engine, but the car was torn down almost immediately and upgraded to a water-cooled Subaru EJ25. While it’s not a turbocharged EJ, the 2.5-liter still produces north of 150 to 170 hp depending on spec, and should make for great reliability with moderate tuning potential — if the builder had got it running right.

The next owner (and current seller) explains that he has not been able to get the engine to run right, citing overheating issues within 10 minutes of run time. Despite fitting a new radiator with dual electric fans, the car continues to overheat and the seller believes the head gaskets to be compromised.

Whether or not the current cooling system will be up to snuff after the gasket repair is one of the gambles here. That, and whether or not the engine has been harmed further from overheating. But beyond those concerns, what do we have here?

Well, underneath the hand-laid fiberglass bodywork, is a modified Beck chassis with VW front suspension and coilovers in the rear. The brakes have been upgraded to four-wheel discs to go with the boost in power, along with a custom Rancho transaxle. Everything looks pretty tidy under the hatch without any obvious faults in sight.

Everything else is pretty much as you’d expect in a 718 RSK replica, with wide-five wheels and a street-legal Speedster windscreen in place. The interior is nicely finished in red upholstery with Speedster replica gauges and a Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel.

Determining a fair price on the RSK is not exactly straightforward given the Subaru powerplant and its current non-op condition. When new, the RSK sold for about $35,000 as a roller, and secondhand cars ask roughly $30,000 to $40,000 — with a VW powerplant though. The Subaru engine ads a premium, but not in its current shape. With that mess of factors in mind, the seller is probably close on the asking price.

See the 718 Spyder here on Monterey Craigslist.


*Without proper maintenance of course...

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