It was a dark and stormy night. No, really, it was, and that was a bad time for the new Tygan Speedster to be delivered, particularly as I decided long ago that I’m no great fan of replicas and that I much prefer fixedheads to open-tops. Mmm, this one’s going to be interesting – I’ve committed to a week’s-worth of commuting (35 miles each way) in this little fiberglass machine.
Tygan recently bought the remains of Chesil. Now, Chesil Speedsters were about the best known of all Porsche replicas, and well respected in the industry. Tygan has put in a few improvements of its own and added a Porsche 550 replica to the range.
So that leaves me in a fairly faithful copy of the great Porsche 356 Speedster, wondering if the old Speedster styling comparison with an upturned bathtub will actually prove a little too accurate in what’s proving to be a storm of biblical ferocity.
Within a mile I hate it. This Tygan is powered by a 2-liter air-cooled VW flat-four, running on twin carburetors and tuned to make a claimed 115bhp at the wheels. It’s a set-up that should be troublefree but for me is proving a nightmare of mid-range misfiring (later found to be a freak carb problem). I’m furious! The only thing that calms me is the fact that the hood is superb, as is the electrically heated screen.
The next morning I contemplate leaving the Tygan at home but I decide to give it another chance, without the rain. This time I’m more impressed. It’s possible to drive through the misfire when the roads are clear, although it means working the engine hard. But it seems to enjoy that, and pulls hard through the four ratios of the Beetle gearbox, with the best gearchange I’ve known in any VW-based machine. It makes a great noise, and pushes the 800kg Tygan from zero to 60mph in eight seconds.
Over the next few days I really get to like the Tygan. It rides and handles well enough to make journeys of 100 miles-plus no problem at all. It’s comfy but sporty, fun but practical. All the things, actually, that make a 356 so damned good.
And there’s the crux. A Tygan Speedster starts at £22,000 and won’t rust or cost much to fix. A genuine Porsche Speedster is double that, will rust and will cost more to maintain. But it will go up in value. If you can afford a real one you probably won’t want a replica. But would you pay over £20k for a replica instead of buying, say, a mid-’70s Porsche 911? That’s tricky. What I can say is that if you want some fun, without worrying about adding mileage or accumulating corrosion, then a Tygan Speedster isn’t to be dismissed. And I really didn’t think I’d end up saying that.