・Beautiful example of the best 356 tribute car
・Retrimmed in red leather
・Recent clutch and brake overhaul with long MOT
・1600cc twin port engine rebuilt 14,000 miles ago
The story of Chesil is a fascinating one, which began in Dorset in 1990 when businessman Peter Bailey bought an existing project known as the ‘Street Beetle’.
The concept was to create a replica of the classic Porsche 356 on a Beetle chassis, which in essence recalled the very formation of the original classic Porsche itself.
Sold initially as replica kits, to which customers could fit their own fibregelass Chesil bodies to existing Beetle chassis, by 1994 the Chesil Motor Company had its own production line in Bridport, Dorset. There, it produced enough finished cars to become the leading manufacturer of Speedster replicas in the UK and was constantly praised for the quality and authenticity of its models.
In 2004 Peter Bailey sold the company to Angus McCubbin and Jerry Bailey who then traded simply as Chesil. The company planned to expand, but didn't have the financial resource to call on the outside services it needed. Eventually, financial difficulties caused Chesil to be wound up in March 2007 and its assets were purchased by the Tygan Motor Company who planned to carry on production of the Speedster and Spyder replicas in a new factory and add further models to the range.
However Tygan itself went into administration in December 2008 and Peter Bailey bought back the assets to relaunch the Chesil Motor Company, which moved into new factory premises in Salwayash, Dorset. More recently, Bailey sold the business again, this time to Westfield Sports Cars, which now builds an all-electric version of the retro classic alongside more traditional models.
As a result, the Chesil has been in continuous production for 31 years – 14 years longer than the car it pays tribute to, and making it a classic in its own right.
This example is thought to be an early 2000 factory-built Chesil, hence it is named as such on the logbook as opposed to a Volkswagen, which usually denotes a kit car.
Believed to be assembled in early 2000 at Chesil’s Bridport factory and to ‘Speedster’ spec, this example is based on the chassis of a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle and was built up around a 1600cc Twin Port engine, using a number of authentic Porsche parts to make it look even more like an original 356.
It has had five owners since and has covered just 14,000 miles since it was built – it had 69,701 miles recorded at the time of build and has covered 83,874 miles to date.
The owner bought the car earlier this year and had plans to keep it long term, but unfortunately he has lost his storage facility and is having to sell the Chesil before the winter as he has nowhere dry to keep it long term.
Included with the car are all the MOT certificates dating back to 2000 when it was built up, which verify the mileage on the engine – a receipt for which is also in the service history folder showing it as newly rebuilt when the car was assembled.
There is a full UK V5 and a selection of bills relating to some recent brake work as well as a handwritten note from a previous keeper telling of the interior retrim, Empi Solex carburettors being fitted, CV joints, clutch and engine mounts.
It also has a more recent receipt for a new exhaust system and a dynamometer reading taken in 2014.
The Chesil looks stunning in its pale cream colour scheme, which is complemented by a smart tan-coloured fabric roof.
Overall, it’s in stunning order, with superb paint and chrome, and you have to look very hard to find any faults. There’s a couple of small blemishes on the paint surfaces if you look really hard – one below the rear lamp unit and another on the front bumper. There’s also a small area inside one of the door shuts where the paint has cracked, but this has been painted over and is only visible by looking into the A-pillar area with the door open.
The roof fabric is largely good save for a small nick in one corner of the fabric, while the chrome is pretty much untarnished. The tyres are all excellent and are enhanced by whitewall ‘embellishers’, which give the appearance of genuine US-style whitewalls without the expense.
Underneath, it is extremely good with no noticeable corrosion or damage to the box sections of the chassis or floor pans.
With rich red leather bucket seats and matching door cards, the cabin is an inviting contrast to the cream exterior coachwork. It was trimmed by a specialist interior fitter in 2003 and has been kept in fine order since.
A three-spoke wood-rimmed steering wheel with Porsche centre boss adds to the appeal, while it also gets a red leather top to the dashboard, which is painted in body colour.
Everything is in superb condition and all the dials and gauges work as they should.
The engine is a 1,600cc twin port air-cooled unit as found in later Volkswagen Beetles and has been dyno-tested to 55bhp, which doesn’t sound much but is plenty enough given the Chesil’s lightweight GRP bodywork. It reportedly has very good performance for an air-cooled powertrain, while recent work to the clutch, brakes and front suspension (along with a new exhaust) mean there’s nothing known about for the next owner to worry about.
The vendor reports that the Chesil is great fun to drive and is in very good working order.
Values of genuine 356s are up in the stratosphere these days, which makes a replica such as this one an appealing prospect if you love the original car’s styling.
And what’s not to like? This one could very easily pass for the real thing, such is its overall quality and attention to detail. It’s a beautiful car, high quality, well-presented and a classic in its own right.
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