Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Porsche 356 Speedster

The Porsche 356 Speedster is one of the most desirable models ever to come out of Zuffenhausen. Max Hoffman's perfect vision of a low-cost, somewhat spartan soft-top sold well in America. The beautiful aerodynamic shape reminds you of an inverted bathtub. The Speedster with a low, raked windscreen, removable for weekend racing, simple bucket seats and minimal folding top was an instant hit, especially in Southern California. It was a lightweight and nimble handling rear-wheel-drive 2 door sports car. Like the Volkswagen Beetle, the other most famous of Dr. Porsche's designs, the Porsche 356 had a rear mounted air cooled pushrod OHV flat-4 engine. So inticing was it that several movie stars, including Steve McQueen, had to have one.

Except for the excessively rare 50 Gmünd cars manufactured in Austria for about two years, the Porsche 356 was built in Zuffenhausen near Stuttgart from 1950 to 1965. The Porsche 356, close to stock or highly modified, has enjoyed much success in rallying, the 24 hours of Le Mans, the 1000 km Buenos Aires, the Mille Miglia, the Targa Florio, the Carrera Panamericana, as well as many other important car racing events.

Original surviving Speedsters are highly sought after and the few mint examples remaining command premium prices, if you can find an owner willing to part with his.

So popular is the model that several companies offer "replica" Speedsters based on the venerable Volkswagen Beetle as it's platform. The simple design and the family DNA makes these replicas so convincing that only true Porsche-philes can distinguish between a copy or the real McCoy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Volkswagen Concept: Bella

Opting to black out the previous two-tone, Volkswagen Concept: Bella ups the ante for clean Karmann Ghias in this part of the world.

Embracing German-Look principles, a stout 200HP Type 1 Volkswagen engine powers Bella past the city speed limits. 94mm Mahle pistons with A Race Pro 84mm crankshaft with Chevy journals and forged 1.4:1 rockers bump the stocker to 2332cc. It features full-flow oiling with a Maxi30 pump. A lightened flywheel, wedge-port heads with 44×37 valves, Dual 48mm Weber IDA carbs and a dual 1 3/4″ merged ceramic coated exhaust. the engine compartment, aside from the aluminum firewall and side panels are paint gloss black. The ebony treatment covers the engine shroud, alternator, pulley, aircondition compressor, and distributor. The close ratio Volkswagen Type 1 Pro Street IRS transmission, featuring a Super Diff, aluminum side covers, Welded 3-4 hubs, and hardened keys, all connect to 17 inch Rota Bella wheels with 195/50X17 front and 255/55×17 rear Yokohama Advan AO48, single block with a race-ready compound.

Suspension tuning relies on Koni shocks and a 1 3/4 ” front rollbar. The front end features a CB Performance dropped spindle and the rear torsion bar was adjusted 2 notches to bring the ride height down to street - tough levels.

Inside, black leather adorns the ‘71 Karmann Ghia seats and door panels while black German wool carpet covers the floor area. A restored 71 black Ghia steering wheel with half moon ring coupled with a VDO white-face speedometer with fuel gauge dominates the dash. The stock fuel gauge location was replaced with VDO white-faced temperature oil gauge and the stock clock location was replaced with a VDO white-face oil pressure gauge. A VDO white-face tachometer fit on an external mount rests on the black leather padded dash.

As a crowning touch, a custom-fabricated roof rack rests on Bellas roof that adds a lot of class to this cool ride. Ciao Bella!