Beck 904 GTS Build

By Kevin Pirkle

As a kid, I was always enamored with the 911. I contracted the disease at approximately six years old and I'm most certainly incurable now. When I had the opportunity to obtain my first long hood example about three years ago, I ended up with a wonderful 1973 2.4l 911T. The car's only real downside is a less than perfect color change. Not to worry, however, since a lifelong partnership means reciprocating the joy one receives by putting love back into the union. And so, I'll begin a full nut and bolt restoration of the '73 later this year. (More on that down the road...) But then what can I drive and enjoy while my early 911 is being restored?!?
Enter Beck 904 GTS, a modern replica of the now famous Porsche 904 Carrera GTS, the first wholly fiberglass bodied Porsche designed for both street and race and hailed by many to be Porsche's most beautiful car ever built. With approximately 108 built between 1963 and 1964 you could expect to pay seven figures for even the least desirable original example of these now 52-year old icons. Contrast this with the 300hp, 1750-pound Beck 904 GTS in a turnkey configuration for less than the price of a new Carrera. With performance specs approaching GT3 RS territory the Beck becomes a very interesting value proposition.
Last year in August of 2015, I was one of the first couple hundred visitors to the new Porsche experience Center in Atlanta...fantastic in its own right. That was the second half of a day I'll never forget - the day I met Chuck Beck. For those of you who aren't familiar, Chuck is the founder of Beck Development Corporation in Atlanta, Georgia. Chuck is renowned for replicas of 550 Spyders and 356 Speedsters. Unlike so many of the commonly available replicas which use a rear engine Volkswagen chassis from a ‘50’s or ‘60’s Beetle, Chuck started with a tube-frame chassis and a ground up design of his own. Some believe that Chuck's replicas are the best and, in fact, I've recently been told that Porsche has even used his replicas in their promos in lieu of driving museum cars on the road. Of course, that didn't keep Porsche from ensuring Chuck didn't infringe on their trademarks, but the factory admittedly likes what Chuck has done. I can't think of a better compliment from either side. As a result of his chassis designs and engine pairings many Beck products actually appreciate over time.
Chuck met me at the airport and drove me to his shop somewhere out in the country, far from downtown Atlanta. He's a real character, and I could write an entire article just about the stories he told me. In the interest of fitting this article in a single issue I'll recommend a youTube video that will give you a little insight into this brilliant man. When you get a chance, check out the video: ”A Visit With legendary Car Builder Chuck Beck". He's 80 years old this year, and still finishing up yet another modern redesign, this time for the 356C Coupe.

An important thing to note is that Chuck loves to redesign and develop cars. This is similar to Singer, which backdates and reimagines 964 series cars as early 911's. However, When Chuck is finished with a design he prefers to move on to another challenge. From Spyders to Speedsters to the 904 GTS and now the 356C Coupes, once he's fully reimagined and developed the replica, he passes production off to Special edition, Inc. in Bremen, Indiana. Kevin and Carey Hines of Special edition have known Chuck since the 80's. The story goes that Chuck brought his roller 550 Spyder to a large kit-car show where Kevin was selling a similar kit (a different marque) for the same money as Chuck's. The difference was that Kevin's kit included an engine. Well, Chuck walked over and told Kevin that it's impossible to offer his car with an engine for the same money as Chuck's, since Chuck knows how much they cost to build. After Chuck shared that he was laying the fiberglass bodies here in the US Kevin explained that his bodies were being produced in Brazil. A trip or two to Brazil with Kevin after the show and Chuck had not only found a new body supplier, he also found a new production partner. And since Chuck prefers to develop instead of produce, this allowed him to move on to his second car, the 356 Speedster.

Continue reading Kevin's story in the October/September 2016 issue of our newsletter Horizontally Opposed: http://www.fsrpca.org/product/horizontally-opposed-septemberoctober-2016

 

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