Though KIT CAR Performance Day is but a distant memory from last year, the fun we had and the times the participating kit car manufacturers posted will long be remembered. We'll be finished documenting how the replicas did in this issue of KC and the next. Soon, we'll be running a new batch of auspicious replicars in the 2nd Annual KIT CAR Performance Day, and we'll bring you those results.
The object of our collective automotive desires in this story is a Thunder Ranch 550A-6 Spyder. The A-6 portion of the model designation indicates that this 550 is a widebody to accommodate a Porsche six-cylinder 911 or 914-6 engine. Can you say Teutonic Terror? We know you can. If ever there was a sleeper of diminutive literally/immense figuratively proportions, this is it. When you look up the term "power-to-weight ratio" in your automotive dictionary, you may find an original Porsche 550 Spyder picture next to the term as providing the definitive example. Well, that photo should be replaced with Steve and Angela Lane's TR 550A-6. Instead of the original's four-banger boxer powerplant producing 110 hp and weighing 1,213 pounds (550 kilograms), the 911 engine in the Lane's roadster puts out about 260 horses-and the car probably weighs about the same, give or take a hundred pounds. You do the math.
Porsche Fuchs rolling stock...
Porsche Fuchs rolling stock gives the 550 an updated, high-performance appearance. The owner painted the car himself; it's a professional quality, black paint job.
We crunched the numbers at KIT CAR Performance Day and were mighty impressed. Steve and Angela have built a superlative Spyder. Porsche fans would be hard pressed to find a nicer replica or original 550. One could even visit the Black Forest of Bavaria, blast down the Autobahn, cruise over to Porsche's museum or factory in Zindelfingen, and we're guessing one still wouldn't find a faster or more spectacular Spyder. Yes, originals with race provenance are worth over a million bucks, but those belong in a museum or some rich hobbyist's climate-controlled garage, not on the open road. The Lane's TR 550A-6 has already logged more mileage on its odometer than most of the originals combined have raced. But, that's a story for another issue. We'll bring you a full-feature on this car soon. For now, feast your eyes on how this Spyder performed against the stopwatch. Time didn't stand still, but neither did the Lane's roadster.
El Cajon, CA 92020
Year and type/model: Replica Porsche 550A-6 Spyder
Car Owner: Steve & Angela Lane, Medford, Oregon
Price of Kit: $15,485
Total Price as Tested: Approximately $60,000
Estimated Hours to Build: Manufacturer says 200 hours. Owners estimate 600 hours. There is quite a bit of time-consuming hand fabrication that Steve endured.
Year and type/model: Several donors-'73 911 provided suspension, fuse blocks, first engine (junk), front hubs, steering rack, brake master cylinder/reservoir, pedals, etc.; 1982 911 SC donor; assorted 914s gave the rear hubs, shift linkage, and transaxle.
Components Included In Kit:
Frame: Thunder Ranch tube frame
Rearend: Porsche 914-6 Transaxle with Quaiffe limited-slip differential
Rear Suspension: DeDion tube four-link and Panhard rod with Aldan coilovers
Front Suspension: Double A-arm with Aldan coilovers
Shocks: Aldan coilovers
Rear Brakes: 911 vented cross-drilled discs
Front Brakes: 911 vented cross-drilled discs
Brake Lines: Hand-fabricated hard lines with steel braid from chassis to calipers
Master Cylinder: Porsche 911 19mm with remote 911 reservoir
Brake Booster: None
Steering: 911 rack-and-pinion with Flaming River stainless steel universal joints
Front Wheel Make & Size: 16x6 Porsche Fuchs
Rear Wheel Make & Size: 16x7 Porsche Fuchs
Front Tire Make & Size: Falken Ziex 205/50/16
Rear Tire Make & Size: Falken Ziex 225/55/16
BodyPaint Brand/Type: PPG Polyurethane basecoat/clearcoat-Steve Lane painted
Windshield/Glass: TR Speedster-style window glass and frame
Grille: TR rear grille is aluminum with two vintage badges-a 1965 ADAC race badge and a St. Christopher's badge
Lights: Dario Calendara 550 reproduction front/rear lamps. Headlamps are reproductions with fluted lens-provided by TR in kit
Mirrors: Single racing-style aero mirror
Emblems and Trim: Nrburgring and Wendler badges, Porsche badges front and rear
Fuel System: Braided stainless lines, Holley RED fuel pump feeding twin 40mm PMO carburetors
Fuel Tank: TR 10-gallon fuel tank with hidden under-hood filler
InteriorGauges: TR supplied Brazilian VDO
Wiring: TR supplied, but owner built the wiring harness with 911 fuse panel
Steering Wheel: Nardi with quick-release, custom hub
Seating: TR fiberglass buckets
Upholstery: TR leather
Material: TR carpet
Engine Brand: Porsche 911 twin-plug short stroke 3.2-liter built by Kevin Farrell-Injection Labs, Boulder, Colorado
Engine Type: Flat 6
Air Cleaner: K&N
Ignition: Electromotive twin-plug crank-fire with Clewett wires and brackets
Headers: Custom built by Steve Lane, jet-coated
Exhaust System: Custom built by Steve Lane, muffler was for a Buick, modified to fit and jet-coated
Transmission Type: Porsche 914-6 (type 901) transaxle, five speed with Quaiffe limited-slip differential, side-shift transmission
Driveshaft: No "driveshaft," but axles are swayaway
Shifter: Porsche 914-6
Battery: Odyssey dry cell
Engines Brackets: Custom
0-60 mph: 4.63 seconds
Minimum stopping distance
from 60 mph: 150.52 feet
HandlingLateral acceleration: .75g (rookie driver)Balance: OversteerSlalom Speed: (420-foot slalom) 41.4 mphLateral seat support: Good
Test ConditionsTemperature: 75 FahrenheitHumidity: 30 percentElevation: 52 feet above sea levelLocation: El Toro Marine Base, El Toro, California
The Porsche 911 engine's features...
The Porsche 911 engine's features include: twin-plug heads, 10.5:1 compression JE pistons, super C2 cams, RSR rocker shaft seals, powdercoated valve covers, braided stainless oil lines, and a Racor oil filter (like an Oberg filter).
The Thunder Ranch fiberglass...
The Thunder Ranch fiberglass bucket seats were trimmed in leather.
For obvious reasons, Angela...
For obvious reasons, Angela didn't count this slalom run. Smile, you're on "Candid Camera!"
For her second and final 0-60...
For her second and final 0-60 mph acceleration run, Angela put her ball cap on backwards, for better aerodynamics, or more likely, so she wouldn't lose her hat.