By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Craigslist

The sky’s the limit when it comes to a replica vehicle project. You can build it cheap and functional, with as many handmade and donor parts as possible. Or you can go all out, sourcing new and hard-to-find parts to build the most authentic recreation possible. There are virtues to each approach, and we’ll go for either given the context.

The builder of this Porsche 550 Spyder replica seems to have elected the latter route, building-in extra cubic inches and sourcing as many period-correct parts as readily available — including, you guessed it, wide-five wheels and bias-ply tires.

While the car is exceptional in the photos, the seller is a bit vague on the details of its construction. He claims that the body is based on “the original Beck mold,” which makes it sound like this mold is now owned by a different party. Either way, it looks correct and well built. The only details we're given on the chassis, is that it’s a steel tube chassis with four-wheel discs. A 2,160 cc engine from SCAT offers a nice boost in cubes, helping the Type 1 to pay proper tribute to insanely complicated, overhead-cam Type 547 Fuhrmann engine.

A quick tour around the car reveals a few details that contribute to the car’s authentic appearance. You’ve got the standard items, like the leather belts, headrest bump and metal headlight screens. But a few items you don’t always see are the authentic-style parking brake, banjo-style steering wheel, and the wide-five wheels and bias-ply tires. Sourced from Coker Tire, the Michelin bias plys definitely pose a compromise for street driving, but offer the nth degree in nostalgia points.

The 550 Spyder is pretty small car, in fact, there was a pretty famous one nicknamed “Little Bastard.” But this 550 looks even smaller than most, thanks to an exceptionally low ride height. At first it doesn’t look quite right, and your eyes note the negative camber in the rear right away. The owner states that the car has been lowered to racing height, and a few original examples out there reflect a similar stance. This car is so low that it makes more sense to mount the license plate on the deck lid, than down on the bumper. And that license plate is a California black plate in this instance, another significant nod to its conceptual origins.

With low mileage on the odometer (1,300), and a clear California Specially Constructed title, this 550 Spyder is well sorted and ready to be enjoyed. At $42,500, the car stacks up really well against other secondhand 550s as well. Get it for $38,500, and you’ll have a real steal on your hands.

See the seller’s ad here on San Francisco Bay area Craigslist.

There you go, a whole article on a silver-ish 550 Spyder without a single mention of James Dean — for the most part anyhow.

’55 550 Spyder 3