One of the things that’s so great about old Porsches is the way they can serve as blank canvases for ambitious project cars – vehicles that can take on whatever form its owner wants.
Or at least that used to be one of the things that made them great. Today it’s a bit different…
With the values of air-cooled Porsches heading into the stratosphere and no signs of coming back down, it’s much harder justifying the idea of buying one with a bunch of modifications in mind.
But what about the replicas? Volkswagen-based Porsche 356 replicas have long been alternatives to those who want the classic Porsche experience without shelling out the massive amount of money needed to own a real one.
In many ways, these classic Porsche replicas are the perfect platform to have some fun with. Case in point, this ’57 Speedster replica built by brothers John and Edison Sarkisyan.
Coming from a background that includes some stunning air-cooled VW builds, the Sarkisyans found this Beck Speedster body for sale last year and over the course of six months transformed it into a beautiful display piece for the 2015 SEMA Show.
Inspiration for the Speedster project came from famed builders like Rod Emory and Singer Vehicle Design, the focus being on both performance and aesthetics with plenty of handcrafted touches inside and out.Anatomy of an Outlaw
When they found the Speedster body it had no chassis and no extra parts, so the Sarkisyans essentially built the car from the ground up. They started out by fitting the Beck body over a fully reinforced ’64 Beetle chassis that’s been shortened by 12 inches.
Other modifications to the chassis include a front beam that’s been narrowed by four inches, Bilstein shocks in both the front and rear, lowering spindles up front and a set of custom spring plates.
Powering the Speedster is a 1915cc Volkswagen engine built by JayCee Enterprises. It breathes through a pair of 48IDA carburetors and has been dyno measured at a stout 153 horsepower.
But it’s not just the mechanicals that impress – it’s the presentation of the the motor and the engine bay. The stacks on the carbs for example have been anodized red, and there are billet parts everywhere. All tin pieces have been powder-coated and pinstriped, and the firewall has been covered in a quilted leather upholstery, as has the deck-lid. The attention to detail is just stunning.
As for the body, it was a two-month process to get it perfect, and it’s hard to argue with the results. The color is a Nardo Gray that’s accented by a couple different lighter shades of gray in the pin-striping.
The pin-striping actually comes as a nod to the lowriders of Southern California, which along with high profile Porsche builds was another inspiration for the Sarkisyans on this project.
The wheels are Fifteen52 Outlaws measuring 15×4-inch up front and 15×5-inch in the rear with custom extended center caps. And like the body itself, the wheels have been custom color-matched in no less than four different shades. Completing the vintage look are a set of classic Firestone P560s from Coker Tire.Handmade Heaven
Things really reach another level when you look at the Speedster’s cockpit, which John designed himself. The seats? They were built from scratch to fit perfectly in the cabin, and the steering wheel is a one-off piece from Budnik.
A Porsche 550-style handbrake has also been fitted, as has a one-off shifter. Even the pedals were handmade specifically for this project.
John also loved the way luggage is displayed inside classic European cars and wanted to include this in the Speedster build. Only in this case, the cargo area would house the car’s audio equipment. Cleverly integrated among the handcrafted upholstery is a high-end setup that includes components from JL and McIntosh.
As you might imagine, the smell of the leather is strong and John loves the way the scent adds to the Speedster’s personality. Crafting the interior was a huge challenge he says, but it was all worth it in the end.
John tells me the response to the Speedster build has been fantastic. In fact, he’s decided that he wants to build another 356 (or perhaps even two) for the 2016 SEMA Show. This time he plans to use original metal bodywork and wants to get even crazier.
Real deal or replica? At this point it doesn’t matter. The Sarkisyan’s Speedster is a creation all its own.
Photos by Louis Yio
John & Edison Sarkisyan’s ’57 Beck Outlaw Speedster
Volkswagen 1915cc built by JayCee Enterprises, JayCee 48IDA carburetors, custom Ron Lummos breather box, custom A1 exhaust, billet accessories & linkage, custom powder-coating, pin-striping & anodizing, custom leather wrapped firewall & deck-lid
Freeway Flyer 4-speed manual gearbox, custom reinforced transaxle frame
Suspension & Brakes
Shortened ’64 Beetle chassis, narrowed front beam, Bilstein shocks, lowering spindles, custom spring plates & covers, Wilwood front brake calipers
Wheels & Tires
Fifteen52 Magnus Walker Outlaw wheels with custom paint, 15×4-inch (front) 15×5-inch (rear), Coker Tire Firestone P560 tires 145/15 (front) 155/15 (rear), tire lettering from TireTread
Custom Nardo Gray paint with pin-striping throughout, one-piece fuel filler, re-chromed & hand-engraved trim
Full custom interior with one-off seats, custom red leather upholstery & carpet, one-off Budnik steering wheel, custom handbrake, custom shifter, custom door panels, custom luggage area to house audio system with leather straps
I've seen this car in person. It looks just as good as these pictures! Replica or not, I would be ecstatic to own this machine.
I consider myself an open minded individual when it comes to automotive culture and the products there of. That being said I've never really taken to replicas, especially of the Cobra and Porsche variety.
This is art. This is beauty personified, I couldn't care 2 ticks and a butt fuck if this is a replica, this is hardcore car porn that borderlines illegal. I would SO own this in a heartbeat.
Curious about the leather in the engine bay, but then again my jaw is still on the floor.
Those leather hood straps tho.
I can't even.
@HunterHunted Also curious about the engine bay, makes me think it's not really going to get driven. But yes this is an incredible build. It makes you think that if it was resto the same amount of work would have been done to it and numerous parts would undoubtably have been replaced with the same parts that went into this.
So bummed that Speedhunters has fallen so far. SH was always about being true and authentic - no matter the topic no matter the sacrifice.... Pardon me for saying it but Replicas are like strapping one on - they are fake and the sensations are as well. Its one thing to love speedsters - another thing to fake it - c'mon folks
@IWentToSEMA I disagree.
@IWentToSEMA TOTALLY DISAGREE THIS CAR IS A PIECE OF ART! BETTER THAN THE ORIGINAL! THANK YOU SPEED HUNTERS FOR ALWAYS SHOWING US SOMETHING DIFFERENT AND DIVERSE.
@IWentToSEMA Your post is bad and you should feel bad.
just great . and who cares about if it´s a replic, when finished like this, it´s a shame that the expression also covers things like trashy F355 builds on a pontiac basis and other. Replics make great car shapes av to a greater audience and let you have way more freedom to modify it but still stay in the "family"
I like this build very much :)
IMO there are, roughly speaking 2 types of guys that are into the car scene.
"Real" or not, "matching numbers" or not is a snobby concept that rich guys who invest in cars have poisoned us with. They buy up "real" cars as investment and push up the prices of all our beloved machinery. They can then brag of "pedigree", and know that their invested money is growing. These types of people would drop their cars like hot potatoes if they ever thought their values would go south. (I'm not talking about the guy who keeps his car stock for personal reasons - he would never part ways with it).
The other type of dude is (probably), like you or I. A car representing a tool for enjoyment whether it be to drive or express a certain style or both. A car that is not "real", doesn't actually exist...
Every mongrel has an interesting story.
@andy YES!! You hit the nail on the head with that one. "Tool for enjoyment" indeed! I feel that cars should be enjoyed to their fullest. Cruise it, show it, track it, whatever. As long as you are smiling, you're doing it right.
No matter if it's a real Porsche or a replica, Works or Rotas, as long as you're having fun with your car, it's all good.
@andy I'd say that the big deal made over a car being "numbers matching" or "a real X" is just another aspect of the outsized concern for Authenticity that seems to be everywhere these days.
The guys who brag about their newly-acquired muscle car being numbers-matching are just like those people who claim that there's any such thing as "real" music.
As far as I'm concerned - if it exists at all, it's real.
The '69 Charger with the custom carbon fenders, Viper V10 and titanium zoomie exhaust that some dude built in his garage is no less "real" than the one Dodge made back during the Nixon administration.
In fact, if reality is defined by actions rather than origins - and one could make that argument - then the replica that gets used and enjoyed is more real than the million-dollar metal sculpture that spends all its time in a heated garage, surrounded by memorabilia, and gets taken out for a yearly Dream Cruise.
@Jocky Couldn't have said it better. :)
These level of detail... really reminds me of this!
Someone should make a modern day version of this. With today's porsche Chassis and engine as the base and a carbon body on top?
@guesswho There are some guys in Italy that rebuilt a rusted 356 over a 911 chassis so it can be done!
Unfortunately we only get half the enjoyment of this beautiful beast (The view that is). I bet it drives even better than it looks. These outlaw/singer type Porsches are perfect!!
Waaaooo the interiors and the boot and the engine bay visual porn.!
Suddenly the Quote in DeadPool movie came to my mind #RichCorinthianLeather
Very nice car, glad they picked the convertible and not the hard top. The only thing you could pick on would be the upholstered engine bay and the skinny tires, wonder what it would look like with some wider tires.
@Chri5 Duncan Skinny tyres is actually not a bad thing if the car handles well. It might not look great to onlookers but it will make it an enjoyable drive for the driver.
@Chri5 Duncan Given that they had to shorten the chassis to make it fit, you wouldn't want to go with wider tires, as the car's geometry would be changed, which would change it's bump steer and a number of other characteristics that are easier to ignore with skinner tires.
Not to mention, with the size of the engine (156bhp I believe) and no power steering, this would be easier to drive on the narrower tracks.
Wow! I hope the builder is holding his chin high. The detial, and obvious love couldnt be touched by a factory car.
That very 1st photo is amazing!
and the car. Yes. I literally forgot about the car.
Scrolled down here to post a comment about the 1st photo first. Haha!
Very, very very clean build.
@MearBiaggi I like you.
This car is just incredible. I can practically smell that leather from just looking at the photos.
Were these pictures taken out off of Santiago Canyon road near the 241 toll road in Orange county, California? That setting looks awfully familiar.
By far the best car you've ever featured. The detail is so extreme, but subtle and perfect. Amazing execution
I'd rather drive a Speedster as a replica. I'd be afraid to drive the real one with all these snowbirds near me!
What a beautiful car...
@90nissanS13@my350z I totally agree with you ! I own a " Replica " and have spent hours just on fit and finish of the body seams , still not done , anyone who says this car doesn't belong here more than likely drives a rusted out YUGO , "I went to sema" doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground , I bet he went as a Janitor .