Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!  

They say that imitation is the sincerest from of flattery, and if that’s so then today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Speedster should make Ferry Porsche’s descendants feel very flattered indeed. Let’s see if its price deserves similar adulation.

For many of us, any auto under three-grand is automatically going to be worthy of at least passing consideration. I myself have only recently entered this elite echelon of “hey, I could afford that,” however this new-found opportunity does bring up another problem—how does one parse the vast selection of vehicles in that price range? There are just so many of them.

We looked at one of those just yesterday, a 1995 Mercedes Benz E320 estate. It looked pretty tidy overall, but had some niggling issues noted in the ad, and at just $2,800 it likely hid a few more for a new owner to discover down the road. An older car that once was expensive but is now a cheap purchase may not seem to be the best use of those throw-away bucks. Just maybe, a newer but less venerated car like a Camry or Malibu would be a better choice?

Of course where’s the fun in that? And who wants to drive an old Malibu when you could roll in a W124 wagon, for crying out loud? That siren song of the interesting and desirable meant the Benz walked away with a solid 68 percent Nice Price win, cut springs, lumpy idle and all.

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Have you ever had surimi, that fake crab meat that looks and tastes like… well, something other than crab? Although made from fish, imitation crab is really just an interpretation of the real thing, created by people whose actual experience with crabs may have extended no farther than watching a few episodes of SpongeBob.

Today’s “1957 Porsche Speedster” replica on the other hand, is about as close an approximation of the real thing as you are likely to find. And real or homage, Porsche Speedsters are uncut awesome.

Now, you might ask why I placed the model and year in quotes in this post. That’s because, while this is a replica of a Porsche Speedster and the seller has noted it to be in homage of those 1954—1957 models, it’s in fact built on the platform of a 1968 VW Type 1 and as far as the DMV is concerned, is registered as such.

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The original Speedster was a derivation of the 356, and was the brainchild of New York-based Porsche importer and all-around amazing car guy, Max Hoffman. He sought a lower-cost edition of Porsche’s bread and butter car for the American market, something to really boost the sales and give the emerging British roadster market something to watch for in their mirrors.

The resultant Speedster offered fewer amenities, a cut-down windscreen, and an even cooler vibe than its 356 sibling. It would also prove wildly cooler. How cool? Well, when actor James Dean decided to try his hand at racing, he chose to do so in a 1955 Super Speedster. Today, real Speedsters in decent condition can command a quarter of a million dollars or more.

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This replica looks—and likely acts—much like the real thing. According to the ad, the car is the product of Classic Motor Coaches, a kit car conglomerate out of Florida that operated from the early ‘70s through a lawsuit-induced closure in 1994.

Before that ignominious end, CMC bought out competitors Automobili Intermeccanica in 1979 and then Fiberfab in 1983. Both of those companies offered Speedster replicas, and when combined with the existing clones from CMC, that made the company the largest faker-maker on the market.

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This one is powered by a dual-port 1650cc VW four. In the Beetle that’s a 50-horse motor. Here, who knows what it’s making. Leading the rear-mounted air-cooled engine is what the ad says is a new 12v transaxle from Rancho Performance. That’s a pretty decent upgrade. Overall, this car is as simple as a pimple mechanically, and everything that is here is said to work well, and be as tight as imaginable.

The bodywork looks excellent with all the appropriate Speedster trim and correct lights in place. Wheels are unbranded chrome dog dishes, and look to be of a fashionably correct size. The seller says that the paint is not perfect, and in fact we do see a good bit of overspray on the weatherstripping in the front boot, but from a distance it should prove okay. The fiberglass underneath that looks fine, and the seller notes it to be free of cracking or crazing. A black vinyl interior invites you in and carries an under-dash stereo as its sole amenity. That looks out of place but probably will appeal to all the NPR addicts in the market.

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A real bonus here is the addition of not just a full tonneau, but the roadster top and side curtains as well. That’s not generally the case with these replicas as most home builders tend not to go to the expense on what’s generally going to be a fair-weather ride at best. Speaking of riding, the car comes with just 1200 miles on the clock. It comes with a clear title and antique plates as well.

There’s also a bunch of paperwork to go with it, along with what the seller says is three milk crates worth of extra parts. I feel for him there. I can’t think of a project I’ve completed that didn’t have a few bits left over.

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The asking is $16,800 and as I noted earlier, that’s a far cry from what a real Speedster would cost you. It’s about a tenth of the investment, in fact.

Sure, you’re not going to gain the status, appreciation, or envy that a real Speedster will provide, but who needs those headaches? I’d rather have a fun car to look at AND to drive, which is just what this replica offers.

The question for you is: should anyone offer that $16,800 asking for the pleasure to ogle and drive this Speedster?

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You decide!

New Hampshire Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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