Rides from the Readers: 550 Beck Spyder

James Huss, Jr.

Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, tips@hagerty.com. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.

No, we didn’t mislabel today’s featured vehicle—it’s not a Porsche 550 Spyder, a model immortalized by its tragic role in James Dean’s death, but a replica of that curvaceous roadster made by Indiana-based Beck Development. Founder Chuck Beck began building fiberglass-bodied copies of Porsche’s iconic 550 Spyder back in the 1980s, and, as of the early 2000s, he’d made roughly 1200 of them. The fiberglass shell sits on a tube-frame chassis that hews closely to the design of the original, and the Beck Spyder is available with or without an engine (as of 2001, that mill is a water-cooled Subaru 2.5-liter boxer four, which replaced the earlier Audi/VW 2.0-liter affair).

550 Beck Spyder interior
James Huss, Jr.

This particular Beck Spyder was likely bought from Beck without an engine, since its 2332-cc VW mill doesn’t align with the records we found of the company’s offerings. The silver-over-tan car belongs to James Huss Jr., who found it languishing outside in California, its seats rotting and its engine entirely rusted. Huss nursed the car back to health, commissioning a total rebuild of the engine and interior and color-sanding the paint back to its original shine. He even had a local auto sticker company draw up period-correct racing decals to adorn his newly restored 550 Spyder replica. “The car is now ready to drive through the community of Canyon Lake and the vineyards of Temecula!” Huss writes.

550 Beck Spyder rear
James Huss, Jr.
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