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Discussion Starter #1
Anyone see "Behind the Headlights" on Speed TV on Wednesday night? It was about James Dean and his 550 Spyder.

It was the first time I realized the low height of the Spyder and it's silver color were probably major factors in the fatal accident.

Anyone know how the Spyder's dimensions compare to the Elise?



http://www.speedtv.com/programs/195/
 

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I haven't been in a real 550 Spyder but rode in a replica that was susposidly correct. A very small nimble car, I suspect the Elise would look rather large next to one. Oh the Spyder was very light weight also I don't recall the exact numbers though.
 

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Discussion Starter #7

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I was really infatuated with the 550 Spyder replicas for awhile there, wanted one until I finally was convinced that having one as a daily driver was really pretty "out there" (even an Elise is way more practical !).

Here are some spec.s BTW, the replicas are a tad longer (a few inches IIRC) than a real Porsche 550 Spyder. Supposedly Chuck Beck (the father of the 550 Spyder replicas) got a hold of an original body and used that for his molds, but added a few inches in length for legroom. These specs are for a Beck Spyder, but the others (Vintage, Thunder Ranch etc. are based off of the Beck Spyder):

Lotus Elise S2 / Beck Spyder / Mazda Miata MX-5 (my baseline car)

LOA (in.): 149 / 146 / 155.7
Wheelbase (in.) 90.6 / 85 / 89.2
Width (in.) 67.7 / 61 / 66
Height (in.) 45 / 40 / 48.4
Weight (lb.) 1750-1975/ 1300 / 2400

Chuck Beck is a real character, BTW, if you ever get a chance to meet this guy, do it. Nice guy. Always his own man, etc. He's from the old school, says that seat belts are dangerous in an open car (would rather get killed by being thrown from the car than getting beheaded. Yeah, maybe...)
 

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mikester said:
I was really infatuated with the 550 Spyder replicas for awhile there, wanted one until I finally was convinced that having one as a daily driver was really pretty "out there" (even an Elise is way more practical !).

Here are some spec.s BTW, the replicas are a tad longer (a few inches IIRC) than a real Porsche 550 Spyder. Supposedly Chuck Beck (the father of the 550 Spyder replicas) got a hold of an original body and used that for his molds, but added a few inches in length for legroom. These specs are for a Beck Spyder, but the others (Vintage, Thunder Ranch etc. are based off of the Beck Spyder):

Lotus Elise S2 / Beck Spyder / Mazda Miata MX-5 (my baseline car)

LOA (in.): 149 / 146 / 155.7
Wheelbase (in.) 90.6 / 85 / 89.2
Width (in.) 67.7 / 61 / 66
Height (in.) 45 / 40 / 48.4
Weight (lb.) 1750-1975/ 1300 / 2400

Chuck Beck is a real character, BTW, if you ever get a chance to meet this guy, do it. Nice guy. Always his own man, etc. He's from the old school, says that seat belts are dangerous in an open car (would rather get killed by being thrown from the car than getting beheaded. Yeah, maybe...)
I seriously considered buying a Spyder replica from Chuck a few years ago. Went for a test ride (Chuck drove, he wouldn't let prospective customers drive it). I love the styling, the car is super fast due to the light weight, and it's really low to the ground. Even at 5'8", I could get in by stepping over the door without opening it.

The price was right - around $25,000 if he put it together, less if you bought the kit and assembled it. Just not that functional, since it's not really a convertible (Chuck's version has no top for driving, just a cover for the rain - I've seen tops offered, but not sure that they work very well). Also, insurance on kit cars is tricky and selling one could be tough. Also, smog tests could get interesting - Chuck was using a Volkswagen engine and claimed that you would be smogged as a VW, but I've known people that had problems with kit cars not meeting emissions standards).

Chuck Beck was in Upland when I visited with a friend. I believe he has moved out somewhere towards Las Vegas (but still on the California side??).

The Elise is a nice alternative, albeit a pricey one.
 

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Allan Gibbs said:
As far has I know, both James Dean and the Ford driver was not intoxicated. The debate on the Boxster board is to whether James Dean was really speeding.

BTW, "Behind the Headlights" will appear again tomorrow:
http://www.speedtv.com/schedule/index.php?m=03&d=5&ts=1078462800&timezone=0&subcat=&program=&usecal=yes
James Dean received a ticket for speeding at 3:30 pm on the afternoon that he died, so there is a good chance that he was speeding when the collision occured at 5:59 pm. However, he was making a left turn off the highway and he was driving into the setting sun, so perhaps he didn't see the oncoming vehicle or misjudged the speed. Who knows?
 

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It was an exc. program, actually Turnipseed (the other driver) was turning in front of dean, not really a turn so much as a fork. They showed the view from Turnipseeds car and you absolutely couldn't see the spider, silver, blended into the asphalt.

They did caculate the distance he traveled from the speeding ticket he was given, estimated he was traveling 65-70, so not blindingly fast but that's a closure speed of probably 120 or so mph (other guy prob. doing 60) certainly adequate to kill, apparently car rolled, Dean broke his neck.

Chris
 
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