The day’s mission for DRIVEN pedal pusher James Lamdin was simple: obtain a beautiful car, escape the confines of the asphalt jungle, find some twisty roads to tear up in the best time of year for some spirited motoring—and maybe pick an apple or two.
The sky was gray and overcast when I picked up my ride at Manhattan Classic Car Club’s Downtown Clubhouse for the day’s outing—not quite the “sunny and 60” forecast I was promised by the weather gods (or at least my weather app).
a flat-four Type I Beetle engine tuned to make about 120 horsepower and one hell of a noise
Still, I couldn’t complain; the rain had stopped, and the temperature was holding steady in the low 50s.
Which was important, because my wheels for the day didn’t come with a roof. Or side windows. Or heat. Or much of anything else, for that matter—just three pedals, a steering wheel, a gearbox and a flat-four Type I Beetle engine tuned to make about 120 horsepower and one hell of a noise.
I’m talking of course about the Porsche 550 Spyder replica by Beck, a reproduction of the iconic ’50s racer.
A lot of replica automobiles and so-called “kit cars” deserve the criticism they get for shoddy manufacturing and poor execution.
But after a day in the country with this little beastie, I’m pleased to report that it is simply, purely, goddamned brilliant—every bit as good as the genuine article.
it is simply, purely, goddamned brilliant
Of course—barring an unexpected windfall of cash—I may never be able to substantiate that claim; as original 550 Spyders are fetching north of $3 million at auction these days, if you can even find one—most of the remaining 150 or so built are in private collections or museums.
But that’s the point of the Beck—to make an iconic vehicle, usually priced in the range of “unobtanium,” available for the cost of a generic midsize sedan.
My face was whipped by fresh country air (the windscreen was too low to cover my head) as I blasted up the Palisades Parkway to Bear Mountain State Park—a playground of switchbacks, sharp corners and windy country roads with a beautiful wooded backdrop.
It was here that the Spyder was really in its element, devouring the pavement with vigor, which you notice, since it’s only a few inches below your backside.
The entire time, the exhaust roared with a wild bleat-crack-snort that put a crazed smile on my face as I scared the local wildlife.
the exhaust roared with a wild bleat-crack-snort that put a crazed smile on my face
After tearing it up on the Park for a few hours, negotiating cliff-side hairpins and nearly careening off the road into the canopy of colorful foliage below, I crossed the Hudson toward Croton Falls for some lower-key, slightly clichéd autumn-adventuring—apple picking.
If you’re near New York, Outhouse Orchards has some killer apple picking, hot cider donuts, coffee—and a sense of humor.
It was an excellent spot to slow the pace and regain the trust of my lovely motoring companion, who after that last stretch may have been questioning the wisdom of her decision to join me for the day.
Once we snagged some fresh Cortlands and refueled, it was time to head back to the city, an experience that demanded my full attention.
Modern features like traction control, limited slip, antilock brakes—hell, even proper seat belts—barely exist in the Spyder.
And with a power-to-weight ratio well into the realm of supercar territory, the car likes going sideways almost as much as it likes going forward.
Not to mention that all the roads in that part of the country seem to have been dreamed up by a demonic Bavarian expat.
If you’ve been kicking the tires on your own membership to the Classic Car Club, now’s your chance. Annual CCC membership points start at $8K for 35 – 40 days of driving in 40+ cars with 60 years of automotive history.
Click here for details or call 212.229.2402 for an appointment.
- Posted October 18, 2012
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