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Okrasa Special
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kiwisteve
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:07 am    Post subject: Okrasa Special Reply with quote

I thought you guys might be interested in a car I bought last year. It’s an English “special” built between 1958 and May 1961, comprising Porsche/VW mechanicals in a spaceframe chassis to Porsche 550 Spyder dimensions, with a mid-engined Okrasa engine. I bought it because quite apart from being rare as an English built car using German parts in post-war Britain, when the opportunity presented itself to create rather than restore something it proved irresistible. The car was built by a chap called David Small, who owned the Farnham Porsche and VW dealership in Surrey up until the late ‘70’s. It was driven up Oulton road in Farnham in May 1961 in this state for shakedown testing, easily seeing 100mph before being pushed into the back of the dealership workshop where it then sat for the next 46 years! Keith Seume bought it about five years ago and then sold it onto me last year.
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Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

I managed to track David down this time last year and was privileged to be able to speak with the designer and builder of the car. Despite being in his eighties he instantly remembered the car and reeled off specifications and various parts he had used. He was amazed that the car still existed and touched that someone had tracked him down to research the car in order to finish it. David built eight previous specials prior to this one and raced against Colin Chapman in the 1950’s - he was also a qualified mechanical engineer and a gifted guy who patently knew what he was doing as he built this car from scratch. As you can see from the photos the heart of the car is a square tube space-frame chassis with aircraft-style aluminium panelling, housing all the major components (engine, gearbox, petrol tank, etc) within the wheelbase of the car. David was clear that it was built as a road-going sportscar, but it has many obvious race car influences such as the right hand gear-change, adjustable engine cooling flap on the underside of the car, etc.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

The engine, a brand new Okrasa TSV-1300 unit was imported from Germany in 1958: the engine comprises a new 69.5mm forged crank, Okrasa’s own twin port heads of similar specification to Porsche, twin Solex carbs on tall manifolds, higher compression, remote oil cooling, and a new cam to assist in making the most of the package, almost doubling the VW output to 55hp, which should prove useful in a car weighing about 500 kg’s as it currently stands.
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David used all new parts in building the car as he had access to an inventory of stock in the dealership and the shakedown tests put a total of 46 miles on the car, effectively meaning the car is brand new, even down to the Okrasa engine and original Michelin X tyres which are now unfortunately rock hard and unusable. The car has been built to the dimensions and wheelbase of the Porsche 550 Spyder and I intend to finish a job started 48 years ago by clothing the car in aluminium bodywork.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

I’ll post photos as the car progresses and thought I would open up its development to the combined expertise that exists on the forum. If you have ideas or views on what I should change, leave, or design I’d love to know what you think.

Cheers, Steve
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LeviMan2001
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is ridiculously cool. Really. What's that roof from? It looks like KG? I'll definitely be watching this thread. Any sketches of what's in store for the bodywork?
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RockStock
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yes, looks Ghia
any sketches exist of the vision for the finished shape?
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loenicz
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The same location ??

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http://www.kaeferfriseure.de
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1961bluebug
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WOW, please post more info and pics if you can. Thanks for sharing this"
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pbaptist
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

loenicz wrote:
The same location ??

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http://www.kaeferfriseure.de


very nice photoshop design!
You should work as a car designer Very Happy

Patrick
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loenicz
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, i found this pic in my archive .....

Jörg

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SiMedlicott
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow, same car/pan?
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kiwisteve
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey guys. thanks for the kind words. the roof is indeed an NOS Ghia roof and I'll post some more pictures of bodywork ideas I've had so far in a few weeks.

the next instalment is of the first service and first drive since 1961 and we've some amazing photos of the inside of the engine. With only 40 miles on it it's virtually as new.

Jorg, the photo you have in your archive I couldn't find. Where is it exactly as I would love to investigate it further. It is the same photo Keith used when he put the car up for sale on The Samba about 18 months ago and I never tracked down the origins.

thanks, Steve
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loenicz
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@kiwisteve
Sorry, i have only this picture ..... adress unknown Think

kiwisteve wrote:
hey guys. thanks for the kind words. the roof is indeed an NOS Ghia roof and I'll post some more pictures of bodywork ideas I've had so far in a few weeks.

the next instalment is of the first service and first drive since 1961 and we've some amazing photos of the inside of the engine. With only 40 miles on it it's virtually as new.

Jorg, the photo you have in your archive I couldn't find. Where is it exactly as I would love to investigate it further. It is the same photo Keith used when he put the car up for sale on The Samba about 18 months ago and I never tracked down the origins.

thanks, Steve
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pbaptist
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

loenicz wrote:
@kiwisteve
Sorry, i have only this picture ..... adress unknown Think

kiwisteve wrote:
hey guys. thanks for the kind words. the roof is indeed an NOS Ghia roof and I'll post some more pictures of bodywork ideas I've had so far in a few weeks.

the next instalment is of the first service and first drive since 1961 and we've some amazing photos of the inside of the engine. With only 40 miles on it it's virtually as new.

Jorg, the photo you have in your archive I couldn't find. Where is it exactly as I would love to investigate it further. It is the same photo Keith used when he put the car up for sale on The Samba about 18 months ago and I never tracked down the origins.

thanks, Steve


You probably have downloaded when the car was for sale.
What is the name of the picture you have.

@kiwisteve: Great car. I hope you will build a nice body for it

Patrick
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2* Karmann Ghia Convertible (1958, 1971)
4* Rometsch Lawrence (nr 534, 555, 558 and 561)

Karmann-Ghia Lowlight page and registry
Karmann-Ghia Collectibles database
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kiwisteve
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, thanks for looking anywy Jorg. The plan is to build a body in aluminium next year, based on loosely on Porsche 550 Spyder, but given the English origins and Italian designed roof, then Lotus and Abarth also seem natural inspirations to look at. Cheers, Steve
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Shadd
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is probably an obvious yes, but are you going to be using all period correct parts? This thing looks awesome, but I would hate to see a Subaru motor or something installed...
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vwhelmot
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool car , i love the mid mount layout. Its going to be difficult to design and build the body, i wouldnt know where to start, but the 550 spyder idea is great as thats a gorgeous looking racer. 550 with a hard top, did porsche build one for Le mans ?
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kiwisteve
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the car is definitely not going to get a Subaru motor or anything that couldn't have been added in period. I think the "window" I have is between 1958 when the car was started, and early to mid sixties. The original builder was a mechanical engineer and racer so he would probably have been looking at whatever was contemporary or leading edge at the time, rather than looking backwards for inspiration. The Okrasa engine is also not going to be removed - I did toy with the idea of putting a 356 engine in it, but that's not what was done originally so doesn't feel right.

There were two 550's that raced at Le Mans with hard tops I believe, neither is very pretty, as the roof looks a little of an after though and somewhat dumpy. At least with the KG roof we've got a svelte set of lines and curves to work from, but I agree it's not going to be easy!
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kiwisteve
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We serviced the Special recently and it was more like an archaeological investigation! First up was a check of all the wiring, plugs and fuel lines. Most turned out to be okay, with very little corrosion, although for obvious reasons we changed all the fuel and brake lines. The original sparkk plugs had a lot of corrosion on the tops so they were changed, while we did a visual inspection of the carbs to ensure nothing had dropped down them. Engine and gearbox oil were next - both were wonderfully clean and honey coloured. While the oil was viscous when we unscrewed the sump plug, when we took the cover off the remaining oil wobbled on the strainer like jelly. We pumped plenty of new fluid through the brake system to flush out the old fluid, and tried both pedals expecting neither to work. To our surprise the seals in the slave and master cylinders held up well. We checked the tappets which were all fine, did a visual inspection with a torch into the crankcase to check for corrosion as best we could and found this
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[img]
Looks like it's just been screwed together rather than done almost five decades ago.

I had an old six volt battery with plenty of life still in it so we hooked that up in the front of the car, and the petrol tank hasn't yet been connected properly so we rigged up a fuel container in the engine compartment. We unhooked the distributor lead from the coil and turned the key the first step... and I must admit I was a little surprised when the two main warning lights blinked into operation on the dash. Then with a twist of the key we cranked the engine over to build oil pressure and pump petrol through the carbs. The oil pressure light went out quickly so we primed the carbs with engine starter, crossed our fingers and turned the key again. After a few coughs and splutters the engine roared into life - I held the throttle at a high idle for a minute or so then gently eased off the pedal. Unbelievably the engine sat happily idling as though it had run yesterday!
[/img]
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[img]
The exhaust was a lot quieter than I expected, with the twin silencers off a Tatra apparently. They do a great job of damping the exhaust, probably too good a job if I'm honest. There's significant rust on them as neither look like they have ever been painted, so I think I'll use that as an excuse to have a Porsche Sebring style set up made to fit the custom headers. Then it was a case of getting in and driving it! Getting in requires the race car style of entry: bum first, then swing the legs in. I pushed the clutch pedal in and gingerly eased it into first, not knowing if the clutch worked or not, then slowly lifted it and all of a sudden we were driving! A few passes up and down the workshop yard saw no problems so we took a few tools and a mobile phone and set off up the road. The engine noise in the cabin is tremendous as it's two inches from your ear, so as Graham highlighted earlier a engine cover or firewall will definitely be required. Everything worked fine so with confidence building I gave the car a decent amount of right pedal up a series of hilly corners. Of course the sense of speed is exaggerated by the noise of the engine and being exposed at the moment with no doors, but being featerweight and with 95% of the mass contained between the wheels the car is tremendously agile and should be a proper period giant killer on tight, twisty circuits an hill climbs. I really must thank Ian Clark of WPS for helping one the day. I know he enjoyed himself but nonetheless it would have been a heck of a job without his help and knowledge.
[/img]
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Next installment will be with fibreglass 550 Spyder mocked up on the chassis. Cheers, Steve
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kiwisteve wrote:
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That pic is great.
Great find and it must be fun to ride in it.
regards
Claude
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LeviMan2001
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I vote against a 550 body, because although beautiful and cool, we have 550's to look like 550's, I think this car deserves a much more special body.
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kiwisteve
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

any views on what it should look like Leviman?
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i think you should wait for the guys here that may have an opinion to do some sketches, post them here and have a winner. Very Happy

the winner takes the credit for the design, you get the ideas for the build, and we are all happy this does not copy any car, but is a one-off coachbuilt racer.
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