Feature: Intermeccanica Speedster auto articles classic cars car culture
Intermeccanica Speedster. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Russell Purcell

Photo Gallery:
Intermeccanica Speedster

I am privileged to drive a wide variety of automobiles, but few, if any, have delivered a driving experience more enjoyable than that offered by the Intermeccanica Speedster, a faithful reproduction of the 1958 Porsche 356A Speedster – a car that has ranked very high on my list of dream machines since I was a young boy.

I recently had the opportunity to spend a day behind the wheel of one of these hand-built beauties and must admit, the experience was eye-opening in more ways than one.

My test vehicle was the personal vehicle of Intermeccanica principal Henry Reisner, and as such, was well-sorted and impeccably maintained. The car was lovingly constructed in 2004, and is cloaked in a deep blue paint (Porsche’s Midnight Blue) and features a matching high-bow, canvas top. Customers can order the low-bow structure, but taller individuals will appreciate the extra headroom offered by the taller unit.

Feature: Intermeccanica Speedster auto articles classic cars car culture
Feature: Intermeccanica Speedster auto articles classic cars car culture
Henry Reisner (top); Intermeccanica Speedster. Click image to enlarge

Luckily for me the top was down when I picked up the Speedster as I stand 6’2″ tall and am large in stature. This made getting in and out of the svelte little convertible a much easier proposition. The compact doors are ultra-lightweight and open with ease, but it is necessary to step over a fairly wide sill before sliding your legs into the expansive foot-well and lowering yourself into the driver’s seat.

Once seated I was taken aback by the fact that this very small sports car provided a surprising amount of space for a big lad like myself to move about. Immediately you notice that most of the real-estate under the dash is visible and exposed, and that there is no central tunnel to demarcate a boundary between the two seating positions. This allows the gearshift and pedals to take centre stage. I will admit that this layout does help give the diminutive car’s passenger area a more spacious feel, but this is also aided by the fact that the Intermeccanica Speedster features a wider tub than its Porsche namesake.

The low-slung windshield and spartan interior left me feeling free and unencumbered when driving with the top down, but later in the day, after snapping the top in place, I will admit that I did suffer from a little bit of claustrophobia. This is due to the fact that the roof design partially conceals a portion of the side windows (modern, power-operated side windows replace the side curtains of the original car) which greatly impedes outward visibility for taller individuals like myself.

Feature: Intermeccanica Speedster auto articles classic cars car culture
Intermeccanica Speedster. Click image to enlarge

The Speedster’s tidy cockpit featured a pair of low-back bucket seats swathed in bright red Italian leather hides accented by dark blue piping. While not a requirement, leather interiors have proven to be the choice of most of the Vancouver firm’s customers. These thinly padded seats were surprisingly supportive and proved comfortable enough over the course of the day. Modern seatbelts have been added to the design for safety reasons, but don’t expect to see any airbags (or headrests for that matter) in a Speedster re-creation.

Most German manufacturers utilized square-weave, wool carpeting in their automobiles during this time period (1950′s), and the quality of that used by the craftsmen at Intermeccanica is impressive. It has been selected to be as close a match as possible to that used in German sports cars of the period, and gives a classy look and feel to the Speedster’s passenger compartment and trunk.

Feature: Intermeccanica Speedster auto articles classic cars car culture
Intermeccanica Speedster. Click image to enlarge

The view from the driver’s seat features an uncluttered dashboard sporting a trio of reproduction VDO gauges, a simple clock, and a couple of simple pull knobs. The highly polished, wood-rimmed Nardi steering wheel is a simple three-spoke design that offered a comfortable grip and slipped easily through my hands. The simple floor-mounted shift lever fell readily to hand, and the flow of its action provided plenty of positive feedback.

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