Last week I was invited by the local Vintage Racer's club, VRCBC, to join thier club meeting and take a tour of a local Vancouver company's shop, Intermeccanica.
Ever since moving to Vancouver 12 years ago, I've been meaning to check the shop out, they make beautiful replica's of the eternally beautiful Porsche 356 Roadster and Speedster.
Intermeccanica was started in '59 by Frank Reisner, developing speed packages for Renault's, Puegeot's, and other makes based out of Turin Italy. Moving on from just parts, they developed a few different models of cars throughout the 60's and 70's including the Italia, in convertible and coupe form, which they sold over 500 of.
In '75 Frank Reisner built his first 356 replica in Los Angeles, along with the tooling needed to produce the car beyond the first prototype.
After making roots in Turin, and Los Angeles, the Reisner family moved to Vancouver, BC and have been here ever since.
If you want to read the full and detailed history of Intermeccanica, check out thier site here: Intermeccanica
The foundation underneath every Intermeccanica Speedster and Roadster is this stout steel chassis. The different variants have slightly different chassis', but they all look very well designed, especially for a small lightweight car like the Intermeccanica.
This chassis here is meant for one of the cars that will be using 911 running gear. A flat six with 911 suspension in one of these little cars would be a fun little beastie to drive around on a nice summer day. Looks like they are using the Porsche 914 steering racks.
In thier fiberglassing area, a car is being bonded to the steel chassis. The bonding between bodyshell and chassis is a permanent one, using fiberglass, as well as aircraft rivets, which gives the Roadsters and Speedsters even more rigidity. This is a huge step up from the old VW chassis pan kit cars of yesteryear.
Similar to the originals, they use a trailing arm rear suspension.
One of the things that sets these cars apart from other kit cars I've seen is the quality of the bodyshell that comes out of the molds. The entire bodyshell is done as one peice and pulled right out of the multi peice mold like that. Since the body on this car is a semi-stressed member, the one peice construction helps rigidity as well as safety. Unlike a car such as the Factory Five Roadster, the bodyshell on this car is designed to last 50 years, with the fiberglass being close to a quarter of an inch thick.
In thier paint booth, there is 1 employee working full time on the bodywork for all of the Intermeccanica cars, putting in hundreds of hours of work into each one. After seeing the end product, I doubt that any of the original 356's had a finish as nice as these.
Here you can see how the interior is integrated into the bodyshell as one peice. This car here is just about ready for paint.
And check out this roadster being finished up with a pink pearl paint job. Very flashy, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this must be for a female owner?
Here you can see the trailing arm rear suspension, waiting for the driveline to be installed.
Currently working on fitting thier second generation hard top to this roadster, one of these is a neccessary item in Vancouver with the weather we get!
This car used an '86 911 Cabriolet as the donor for its suspension, drivetrain, and certainly some of the trim bits, very unique crossover between the 356 and the 911.
A customer approached Intermeccanica in the mid-90's and asked if it was possible to get a replica of the old World War II VW Kubelwagen, as you can see here, it was possible, and Intermeccanica have been selling these ever since.
Interiors are very spartan and functional looking, even more so than other military vehicles slash personal vehicles such as the Humvee.
Here is one of the original Intermeccanica Italia convertibles being restored, was based off the Griffiths car, a very nice shape.
While an Indra Coupe sits in the corner waiting patiently for some attention. Would be great to see these in all thier glory someday.
A lot of old Porsche memorabilia around the shop and other random things, this company definitely has a lot of history.
Looks ready to tackle the Targa Florio or something of the likes.
This was my favorite of the cars currently being built, a deep blue that digital pictures just can't do justice. Gorgeous car!
Big thanks to Henry Reisner, as well as the Vintage Racing Club of BC for inviting me, was great to meet such a nice group of car nuts!
- Carl Jarrett