Yes, I’m a little late with the Blog Post this week.
We journeyed to Bremen Indiana this past week using “The Legend” a DC-3 we fly all too rarely these days. Pete Malone joined us on this trip to keep me from killing us all as I fly so little these days. The weather was marvelous and we had a great trip in and out in a day.
We got to visit with Kevin and Carey Hines of Special Editions Inc. And we learned a great deal. It was an enormous eye opener for me and it culminates in NEXT week’s video which for a certain segment of our audience will likewise be a kind of earth moving under the feet experience. I’ve had a glimpse of the future, along with the accompanying headaches and interstitial dislocation and disorientation. So if I’m a little unfocused, forgive. Interdimensional travel is hard for me.
Actually these guys are a marvel. They have been producing the same two cars since the early 1980’s and they are in a FRENZY of innovation even as we speak, building a new facility, ponying up for brand new molds, and moving the body/chassis work INTO the U.S. from Sao Paulo Brazil. That’s right, they are IMPORTING jobs from South America.
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Juxtaposed with this is the image of a badly worn Spyder in the driveway with a sign on the Windshield that says DAD’S 550. Story to tell is that some kids got together and wrestled Dad’s beloved but worn Spyder 550, one of the first Kevin Hines built, out of the garage and shipped it to Bremen for refurb – 30 years later. A birthday present for Dad. YOU’VE GOT TO BE PUTTING ME ON…..
Passion. Excellence. Decades. Generations. You want a testimonial to product excellence? How about some KIDS, (undoubtedly in their thirties and forties and with kids of their own) ponying up to REBUILD a 30 year old car that was a replica THEN when new… for the father, who must have dearly loved the car. I’m crying and slobbering and going on and I haven’t had a drink yet that day and we’re not even INSIDE THE PLANT yet….
And so it goes. They make 125 cars a year. They’ve always made the same two cars. And they are absolutely working like crazy people to improve the whole thing, roll out a new line extension with a gorgeous BECK replica of the Porsche 904, expand to a new facility, bring fiberglass layout in house from South America and have a discussion about their new ELECTRIC line of the SAME vehicles, all at the same time…
Far from a tired old staid company at the end of their long obsolete line, these guys are ENERGIZED with INNOVATION doing classic cars as fast as they can possibly build them for a client base that is so loyal the KIDS AND GRANDKIDS know about them and wouldn’t have a simple paint and interior job that could be done ANYWHERE done ANYWHERE ELSE.
Did I say they were IMPORTING JOBS TO AMERICA???? Who else is doing this?
They are onboard with some changes to the Rickard version of their roller, including some they suggested as well. They’re going to do the rear bumper mod, have ABS boxes built for the rear battery boxes, and do the nasty fiberglass cutout HAL had to do for us. But they also tuned up the rear suspension and suggested a set of Q1 adjustable shock/coil overs for the car.
As to the turnkey electric build…. Carey seems to want it and Dad is kind of leery of it. Both had very cogent reasons for their positions…
The BMS was of course controversial. I claim it is a menace and they claim it’s necessary, although the Duke’s Garage version is currently disabled OVER BMS ISSUES…Duh being more than a car name….
So I don’t know how that’s going to all turn out. But Carey is going to build one for himself to see what’s really involved. The rollers will certainly be available and getting better all the time. And I have suggested a price of $60K for a turnkey car. I would be willing to bet if you called and ordered one, the normal 12 week lead time probably wouldn’t happen, but you’d have a car by spring anyway.
One criticism remains very very valid. The instrumentation we did is just not what’s needed. I knew that. We’re working on it. You can’t read it while driving. You don’t know what it means if you COULD read it. And it’s just generally been the achilles heal of this project from the beginning. We DID get the temp and fuel gauge to work but the real electric car info is just very nearly unavailable even though it’s right in front of you. This has to be addressed.
I guess I think this ultimately is a controller issue. All the information you need is actually IN the controller. Current, rpm, temperature, voltage. They’re all already in there. It needs to be brought out to a display that can be put in a car. All else is vanity. Add a $20 GPS chip and you have speed and miles to go. Why are the controller guys SO lost on this. It’s an obvious upsell and you could have six different display variants for the same data at six different prices. I don’t get it.
Curtis kind of DOES this but it is so lame and so lead acid I can’t believe they even bother….
Great visit. These guys build GREAT American Classics – even if they are Porsche’s. They are more reminiscent of Ferdinand and Fergy Porsche than Porsche itself is. They CAPTURE the essence of small shop hand made cars and clearly there IS an economic niche for such. In fact, they are not the past at all….they are the very essence of the future….