In the past week I’ve seen a number of stories related to Porsche that have little to no basis in fact. The most recent example was an article about David Beckham and a scale model Porsche Spyder 550 purportedly purchased for his son Brooklyn. The story started at a now defunct website and then once picked up by BornRich.org it went viral. The problem is, it’s simply not true. At least not most parts of it. After a little digging, what I found (besides the truth), was much more interesting than I imagined.
The story begins in the small town of Lüdersfeld, Germany at the Design Studio of Bernd Pennewitz. In 2000, more than 53 years after the good doctor first laid out the design for Gmund NO. 1, Bernd began the development, with preliminary sketches, drawings and construction plans on a Porsche Spyder 500 in a scale of 1:2.3.
Jump to 2004 and enter ZooSpeed.com’s President and co-founder Darren Draves. “When I spotted the little Spyder at the Porsche factory museum in Stuttgart I thought it was unbelievably cool. After seeing the incredible craftsmanship and detail I knew I had to have one, and I don’t even have a child to drive one!” So Draves, along with ZooSpeed’s Vice President, Sean Berner, set-out to bring the scale model Porsches to the US.
Back when this story was originally written, ZooSpeed.com was the only distributor within the US for these collectible gems [we can’t find ZooSpeed anymore and not sure who currently distributes them, if anyone]. Besides the Spyder, ZooSpeed also offered a 356 Carrera Speedster (in a limited production run of 356 units) as well as a Porsche 904 GTS (in extremely limited numbers).
ZooSpeed’s Berner estimated that roughly 200 of the 550 series have been sold and about 100 of the 356. Delivery destinations are split fairly even with about 50% finding a home in the US and the remaining 50% spread throughout the EU.
With a price tag of nearly $10,000 these beauties don’t come cheap. However, this is nowhere close to the $72,000 price tag being reported elsewhere. Each miniature scale Porsche replica is constructed on an all aluminum and steel chassis and then covered in hand-laid fiberglass. Power comes in the form of a 24 volt DC permanent magnet motor (that’s electric, not diesel) and is fueled by 2 12 volt 15 Ah lead/gel, maintenance-free and rechargeable batteries.
Performance and drive time depend on total weight, terrain and speed driven, but your average 3 to 8 year old can expect to get up to 3 hours of fun at speeds nearing 5mph (and more than twice that fast in the 904) as they work through the two forward gears and 1 reverse. Concerned your precious and precocious child won’t be able to stop before he hits a tree? Don’t be. Braking is provided through the electric motor as well as a disk brake that can be applied by hand.
As you look through the pictures of these cars, it’s easy to see the reason for the $10,000 price tag. Fit and finish is superb and the level of customization is limited only by your imagination (you can even have the paint custom matched to your full size Porsche).
Built primarily as a collectible for the Porsche or automobile enthusiast, it can still be purchased for the child that has almost everything. What kid wouldn’t want a functioning scale automobile with gears, disk brakes, working headlights and authentic Porsche air-cooled sound. That’s right, each car features a speaker strategically placed that replicates the throaty and raspy growl we all love.
Does David Beckham’s son Brooklyn drive a Porsche?
More importantly, does anyone care? Apparently so based on all the articles I’ve seen! Regardless, the car and child pictured in the online rumor mill (otherwise known as the celebrity blogosphere) are not of Brooklyn Beckham according to Sean Berner, ZooSpeed’s Vice president. In fact, Sean verified that the pictures being portrayed as Beckham’s son are in reality those of a state side customer’s child. Sean pointed out that ZooSpeed would be happy to help the Beckhams in procuring one of their cars (naturally) but they are not currently counted amongst their customers. Berner did mention that one celebrity customer of note (and known car junkie) is Nicholas Cage.
Try as I might, I couldn’t convince ZooSpeed to send me a car for review. I guess it’s not feasible that my 6’3” frame would fit inside one of these puny Porsches. 🙂 After suggesting I could get two and use them as roller skates, Sean did point out that if you are interested in purchasing a car as a collector, vs. a toy for your child, you can save a few dollars by ordering without the drivetrain.
In my opinion, if you’re going to spend the money, you might as well go for it all! If you’re interested in learning more about these fine vehicles you can checkout the designer’s website in Germany.
Okay, who wants one??
How Much Would you Pay to Sit Where Posh Sat?
1955 Electric Porsche Spyder 550
Ruf Electric Porsche Cayman
Electric 1967 Porsche 912
Scale Model Porsche 934 RSR by Tamiya
Porsche Automotive Diorama
[Source: Interview with ZooSpeed]
[Updated: March 2018]