Reincarnation Magazine

Reincarnation Magazine
Continuation, Reproduction and Replica Automobiles
Rein Car Nation Cover Spring 2020
						Subaru Speedster A26
Fine Fusion Cuisine

2.5-liter Subaru powered 356 Speedster

Who doesn’t appreciate a bit of variety now and then? It’s not only the spice of life, but also essential for cool cars. For instance, Porsche replica owners have come to expect seeing the venerable VW Type 1 under the rear deck, but the trend in recent years has been to swap out this air-cooled engine for a water-cooled Subaru mill. How so?

Southern California is generally regarded as a center for fusion, taking inspiration from its multicultural population, so no surprise that the Subaru-powered Porsche Speedster shown here hails from north of San Diego, in Oceanside, California, at Beverly Hills Motor Cars.

Company founder Carl Wong exemplifies this fusion approach in his professional life as well. Born in Hong Kong, he came to the U.S. as a teenager to attend the University of Southern California. After graduating and becoming a CPA, he established a successful accounting business in the early 1990s — but his passion was elsewhere. So he sold the firm to get fully involved with his childhood love of automobiles.

He had established some European automotive connections when he imported various Porsches into the U.S. during the 1980s, and utilized these same connections to establish a business of exporting 356 Porsches and VW Beetle Cabriolets to Europe in the 1990s.

In the early 2000s, he started Beverly Hills Motor Cars, working primarily with classic originals. With the rising prices of classic Porsches, he started developing connections in the Porsche replica industry and displayed various 356 and 550 Spyder replicas in venues such as The Los Angeles Auto Show and Techno Classica in Essen, Germany.

Drawing from his analytical training in economics, Carl started breaking down the demographics of his clientele in order to service them better. He realized that most of the inquiries he received were from people who dreamed of owning a classic Speedster or Spyder, but could not afford the cost of an original. So in 2013, he decided to concentrate solely on Porsche replicas and acquired the name and assets of Vintage Replicar.

In addition, he realized that the car of a customer’s dreams had to be “just right.” It might be a special color or have a very specific set of options. It might need an automatic transmission or air conditioning. Also, most of his customers did not have the time, resources or facilities to buy a kit and put it together just as they wanted it themselves.

Responding to theses preferences, Carl now does his best to realize his customers’ dreams by either locating the car they are looking for on the market, or customizing and upgrading an existing one he has in stock. Or, as in the case of the endearing Speedster featured here, owned by Chris Schaffner, do a complete new build. He thus became not just a purveyor and procurer, but also a customizer, restorer and builder of these classic reincarnations.

Turns out that Chris Schaffner has owned many classic cars including hot rods, and already had several items in mind for his Speedster, wanting one unlike any other. His wish list included a Subaru liquid-cooled engine, an AccuAir suspension, and 17-inch classic Porsche wide 5 wheels with whitewall tires. He also asked for a tube frame reinforcement for the shortened VW pan chassis, for both a stronger frame and a 1960s title.

Chris and his wife chose the light-gray interior color scheme, including the custom rear seating area and white-faced, retro-look gauges. He also chose the toned-down outlaw-style of leather hood straps and minimal trim, which compliments the Porsche Silver GT Metallic perfectly. He decided not to have a soft top for the car to maintain the cleanest look possible, but opted for a canvas tonneau cover to avoid prying eyes when the car is parked.

But it’s hard to avoid the car’s eye-catching looks, as the whitewall tires, period trim and color scheme on this car are all captivating. Not only that, the car drives beautifully with the 180 hp EJ25 2.5-liter Subaru powerplant. Backed by a VW transaxle with Kennedy Stage 2 clutch, this mill has a “just right” feel for the size and weight of the car. It scoots right out when stomping on the throttle, with a bit of wheel spin when pressed, but staying stable and forgiving. You can have fun without getting in over your head (which can happen on some over-powered replicas). All told, the car’s performance lives up to its pleasing appearance: a balanced fusion of international flavors.

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Speedster Subaru