Car Info & History

Introduction of the 356 Speedster Kit

As remembered by Tom McBurnie…

“In April 28, 1978, at the L.A. Auto Expo, Frank Reisner and his partner Tony Baumgartner introduced the first 356 Speedster replica from which all Speedster replicas come.  Previously, Frank, a German who had a specialty car building company in Italy, built such cars as the Apollo and the Italia, both with Italian style bodywork and American running gear.  VW was still selling Beetles from the showroom floor at this time, which was the basis of Frank’s Speedster.  The replica sold for about $13,000, at a time when originals could be purchased for $8-9,000. But the replica had new running gear and a warranty, and it was eligible for bank financing. The replica was an immediate success.  Intermeccanica, Frank and Tony’s company, continued to build the Speedster replica until VW discontinued the Beetle in 1986.  With no new Beetles available, the business plan was no longer viable so the Speedster replica project was sold to Classic Motor Carriages in Miami, FL, a kit car company.   Continue reading Introduction of the 356 Speedster Kit

356 Speedsters in the US

As remembered by Tom McBurnie…

Classic ad for Porsche's Speedsters, various models of the 356
Classic ad for Porsche’s Speedsters, various models of the 356

“Max Hoffman was Porsche’s first distributor, showing the cars at 59th and Park Avenue in New York City.  Johnny Von Newman was Hoffman’s West Coast dealer, and he felt Porsche needed a car that was fast, open top and affordable to compete with the onslaught of British cars being imported into the U.S.  Hoffman saw the 1950 Sauter roadster during one of his visits to Stuttgart in 1951.  He lobbied for a roadster and suggested changes to the Sauter.  All this culminated in the 1952 America Roadster.

This aluminum roadster was the excitement the U.S. market needed, but it wasn’t inexpensive.  Von Newman got an early car but at Willow Springs Raceway, N.W. of  L.A., the roadster over heated.  It recycled the engine compartment air and that caused the overheating, dropping the 70HP engine power to nearly half, which is okay for the street but not a racecar.  The next roadsters added another cooling grill to the engine compartment cover, which solved the cooling problem.  Jack McAfee drove the America for Von Newman successfully on the West Coast circuits and continued driving for Von Newman in a 550 Spyder.  One steel America was made as a preproduction car, but the production was canceled as Reuter was finishing up the Speedster design and Porsche decided the Speedster was their future “budget” car.  Stanley Gold now owns the steel America Roadster (pictures below), and it is part of his fabulous Porsche collection.  Thankfully for us spectators, Stanley uses his cars. Last year the America Roadster raced at Laguna Seca Vintage races and also the vintage races in Monte Carlo.    Continue reading 356 Speedsters in the US

Racing Drivers of the 356 Speedster

As remembered by Tom McBurnie…

McBurnie in his Porsche 356 Speedster at Santa Barbara in 1965
McBurnie in his Porsche 356 Speedster at Santa Barbara in 1965

“Santa Barbara Airport, Goleta, Calif, Sept 1965. I was in the racing pit mentally getting prepared for the SCCA E production race. Beside me is Dick Taylor, friend and local Porsche body shop manager, and his wife Dorothy. The 1958 Speedster (number 64) was the second Speedster in my carport and the other was my daily driver, a 1955 Speedster brought back from Germany in 1964. The two Speedsters shared one motor, so after the race, the motor needed to be removed from race car #64 and reinstalled in the 1955 daily driver. This was my first race in the U.S. with my Speedster, and with this grocery-getter motor, I finished 11 of 34 cars.

In 1966, the 1958 Speedster got its own racing engine and the car was flat towed (tow bar) to races. My success was mostly self made. I owned my car and tow vehicle and drove it at the race track but also built my racing engines and maintained the car and its bodywork besides doing an 8 to 5 job. I went on to set track records at Riverside, Willow Springs, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, and Bottomless Lakes Park in 66 and 67.  For 1967 the Porsche Owners Club awarded me driver of the year.    Continue reading Racing Drivers of the 356 Speedster

For the Novice: Thinking about Building a Kit Car? Read This First!

If you are new to car building or investigating building a kit car for the first time, this article might be helpful to you. One of our technicians put this information together in hopes it would facilitate a better experience for the beginners out there. Most experienced car builders will already know these things, although it never hurts to review the basics!

010915_Campbell-SpeedsterAn automobile is one of your most prized possessions, and building it yourself can give you a sense of accomplishment and pride every time you drive it and show it off. One of the best and most cost effective ways to build a car is to build a kit car. Kit cars often resemble unattainable, legendary cars that most of us could never afford, but these kits usually use parts from vehicles that are easy to find. Building a kit car is a great way to own the car of your dreams without spending your life savings.

Many kit car builders have success with their project by doing as much research as possible before and during their build. There are three important areas to research. You’ll need to know a lot of information about the kit and the vehicle its parts are based on, what parts to get and where to get them, and what demands that building the car will have on you, the builder.   Continue reading For the Novice: Thinking about Building a Kit Car? Read This First!

Just in Case You Didn’t Notice…

We’ve got new web pages and data sheets up on two new products that have been in production, the RW Spyder RS and the RW GTS. You may have seen an introduction to the RW Spyder RS when Car Builder magazine covered it in an article last month, but now we’ve got a more information available for you. Check it out!

Here are some extra pictures of the RW Spyder RS for you.

RW Spyder RS - Multiple Colors Side Shot RW Spyder RS - Multiple Colors Front Shot

First RW Speedster Out of the Mold!

Fresh from the shop floor!

Our New 911 Style Fan Shroud Kit Is Here!

Rock West Racing Announces the Launch of Its New 911 Style Fan Shroud Kit

Rock West Racing is developing multiple products for the kit car market and is now offering this 911 style fan shroud kit for Type 1 VW engines. In addition to kits for Spyders, Speedsters and RSKs, the company is developing a range of complementary parts and components to expand its customers’ project options.

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) June 24, 2014 – Rock West Racing is announcing its first available product, a 911 style fan shroud kit. Designed to upgrade the look and function of a Type 1 VW engine with dual carburetors, the 911 style fan shroud is appropriate for 356 Speedster and 550 Spyder replicas along with VW hot rods. The kit comes with all the necessary parts to complete the project, as well as an instruction manual. Rock West Racing is an emerging business in the replica car industry and is headquartered in San Diego with manufacturing facilities in both El Cajon, California and West Jordan, Utah.    Continue reading Our New 911 Style Fan Shroud Kit Is Here!

Composites, Classic Racing Cars, Kits, and Components

We are not providing products and services at present. Rock West Racing is reorganizing its business as part of the larger Rock West enterprise. We are shifting our focus to meet growing market demand in other industries.

Please check our website in 2019, as we will have announcements about our new product offerings after we finish this process. Thanks for your interest in Rock West Racing!