It’s not everyday that you meet someone who would be considered “legendary” by the informed collector car aficionado. When Jay Leno, avid car collector who also has a late-night gig, thinks of you in those terms, you may want to pay attention. It’s not just the person, but also the product that earns the right to the term.
Chuck Beck, “legendary” builder, fabricator and racer of some of the iconic sports cars of the last half century opened up his shop recently for another Atlanta “Garage Party” to celebrate his 75th birthday. The Villa Rica shop is the home of the Beck 904, a replica of the 1964 Porsche Carrera GTS. More than a replica, it is the rebirth of the Le Mans winning race cars of 1964. Those cars finished 1 & 2 & 3-5 in GT 2.0 that year.
Beck, in his own words, creates replicas “…with improvements that the designers could only dream about in 1963.” Originally created as dual purpose street/race car, the Beck 904 takes the design one step further with enhancements in braking, transmission and engine that greatly improve upon the original. His 904s are also a couple of inches longer, taller and wider for added comfort while retaining the basic 91 inch wheelbase of the original.
While the 904 is the current offering from Beck, he is also know as the builder of the replica Porsche 550 Spyder, which was the standard for Spyder replicas a decade or more ago. No longer in production, the Spyders are still sought after by collectors and Porsche-philes. Offering a balanced package that the original could not deliver, the Beck Spyder can be driven daily without fear of breaking or damaging a high dollar original.
Perhaps Beck’s most well-known creation in car nut circles is the Shogun, a late 1980s Ford Festiva with the 3-liter, dual overhead cam high-output V-6 from the Taurus SHO of the same era. In the day the SHO was the wolf in sheep’s clothing, using the Taurus platform with only a few outward cues to what lay under the hood. Beck figured that taking the 220+ hp engine and putting it in a car half the size and weight was a pretty good idea; oh, and let’s put it in the rear of the front-drive Festiva, giving it rear-wheel drive, as an added bonus. Only a hand full made it into production, with car #3 being owned by the afore-mentioned Leno. Chuck still has the prototype at the Villa Rica shop.
The best thing about Beck’s vehicles is the man himself. Very approachable and gracious, he takes the time to talk to everybody and share some insights on not only his cars, but also about other automotive topics as well. Unlike some of the prima donna personalities in the car business, Chuck is exactly as he appears; the kind of guy you’d want to sit down and have a beer with. And he just might!
You can get more information about the Beck 904 at their web site: www.beck904.com .
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