Bohemian Spyders

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Bohemian Spyders

Postby John Jennings » Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:34 am

I just returned from a fascinating visit to the Czech Republic to see the Spyder cars and chassis being built by Stepan Gencev. Some of you might know of Stepan from the 356 registry but for those of you who don't he is a mechanic specialising in early 356's and he manufactures a lot of spares for the early engines including pistons to his own design.

Anyway, I visited his lockup in a snowy Czech town about 100km from Prague and was taken aback by a veritable Aladdin's cave of early Porsche (and non-P) treasures including the Spyder chassis, 6 complete 356 engines in various states of tuning, about a dozen engine cases and trannys, more carbs and smaller parts than you could shake a stick at, a beautiful splitscreen bus with a hot 356 engine and brakes, a 1955 porsche fireman's pump trailer (working) and two Vespas.

The chassis is a recreation from the original drawings using all original parts ie pre-'55 and is correct to the original dimensions ie about 50mm shorter and narrower than the Chamonix and Vintage versions, and yes, that is a 519 gearbox (it might well be real gold for the price these are fetching these days). The chassis still has some way to go but Stepan's aim is to recreate the original handling characteristics by sourcing the correct pre-'55 parts for the torsion beams and suspension from various early VW creations (schwimmwagens and kubelwagens - they had stiffer torsion bar springs apparently which were used on the Spyder).

The chassis maker also makes Beck-sized chassis for 7000 Euros or you can buy an aluminium car and chassis (minus fuel tank, seats and mechanicals) for 32K Euros - again based around the Chamonix dimensions.

John
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Postby John Jennings » Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:36 am

and another...
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Postby DannyP » Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:21 pm

Nice, John! It must be in europe, I see Wurth hand cleaner on the wall!
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Postby prototype4 » Mon Dec 13, 2010 5:27 pm

Now THATS what I'm talking about!! [^:]
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Postby cam550 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 8:06 am

Very nice.
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Postby buy 356 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:43 pm

John

Does Stepan also build the aluminium bodies as well?
I have trawled the net to find someone who can make an authentic replica in aluminium, but the only person I have found is Stepan.

I have sent emails to him, but no response.

I now am starting to think I am mistaken.. that he doesn't make the alloy body, just assembled a chassis?

Your assistance would be great.
I refuse to buy a glass replica/ I just want an authentic hand build identical replica - is that too much to ask?

Did you end up commissioning Stepan to make yours, or did you determine another course of action?

Thanks for posting the photos..
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Postby Paul Foreman » Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:09 am

Where are you in the world?
I ask because just finishing an ally replica to go to Monaco and also involved with John's quest for the ultimate recreation.
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Postby John Jennings » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:37 am

No - Stepan doesn't build any bodywork. His focus is on mechanical assembly and is mainly interested in building performance 356 engines. This rolling Spyder chassis is a one-off for him to showcase his mechanical products (he designs and manufactures several high performance 356 engine components including alloy pistons) and has a huge stock of early Porsche parts bought up years ago when they were cheap in Eastern Europe.

The chassis fabricator is one of Stepan's friends who has a workshop close to Prague. Again, I think he has only produced two dimensionally correct chassis - the one you see in my photos above which has a Pre-A front beam and a second which differs only in that it has a Mex VW front beam, which is considerally cheaper.

The \"third man\" is yet another friend of Stepan's who does the coachbuilding. His main focus is Jaguar C Type replicas in aluminium although I believe that over the years he has built around 30 Spyder replicas. These cars are basically alloy bodied Chamonix cars, though, as they use a Chamonix body as a buck so that isn't really what you are looking for. Shame, because the workmanship looks pretty nice in the photos I've seen but a bit pointless if you end up spending all that money and end up with all the faults of the fibreglass cars.

As far as I'm aware Ozzy Saez at Alloycars is the only person who can sell you an accurate alloy bodied car, he has one just finished on his website which is soon to be delivered to the new owner. He says he will be making one a year but the price will probably be considerable...well over $100K probably plus engine and tranny.

As Paul mentions, I am working on an alloy Spyder build for myself and am doing my best to make the bodywork as accurate as the chassis. There are no plans to make more than one car, though, as there are people in this community who make a living out of building these cars and I don't want to tread on anyone's toes. Sorry!
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Postby John Jennings » Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:44 am

A few progress photos of the mechanical 'first fit'
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Postby John Jennings » Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:47 am

'54 Pre-A front beam with grease lines copied from the Porsche factory blueprints...
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Postby bbgroovin » Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:09 am

looking pretty nice ...... notice the vented backing plate for the drums on the rear .......
These guys seems to be paying attention to detail .......
If they keep it up, it will be one sweet car !!!!! [:0] :D

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Postby John Jennings » Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:30 am

Thanks, Bruce

The drum brakes you see fitted to the car are 'B's which are being tried out for size in the photo but which turned out to be a little too big. I'm waiting for a set of original Spyder drum brakes to be refurbished - those will be going on the car.

John
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Postby beck688 » Tue Mar 15, 2011 5:19 am

What is the copper tubing in the front torsion bar tubes for?
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Postby John Jennings » Tue Mar 15, 2011 5:35 am

They are for lubrication - copied from the Porsche chassis blueprints
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