AUTHORIZED CHAMONIX DEALERS IN USA

This is the marketplace forum for Special Editions, Inc., builder of 550 and 356 replicas (1-16-14 pd)

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Postby AJK » Sun Oct 02, 2005 9:00 am

Here is what is surprising to me. Until a few days ago, my belief was that Chuck Beck originated this whole Spyder thing about 20 years ago and along the line spawned two other endeavors (either directly or indirectly, lets not get our shorts in a bunch over this) and also at some point shifted production of body and frame to Chamonix.

Chuck had established a reputation as a stand up guy over many years. That is the ONLY reason I was willing to send a check for over $20,000 to a guy I had never met for a product I had never seen.

Now this Special Edition entity comes along, claiming to have a dealership network across the country and having been in this business (or someyhing like it) for 24 years, making a big deal of the difference between inporters and distributers when the real question was \"who are you, anyway\"

I am not reassured.
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Postby stitchmon » Sun Oct 02, 2005 9:32 am

Thanks for the clarifications. If I understood, number of Spyders in the US market is not necessarily increasing at an increasing rate. This is to say the total new Spyders for sale each year by all vendors/manufactures/distributors is not changing w/ your model. I wouldn’t care to understand the market for this product anymore than I want to know what’s in my un-washed coffee cup – if I knew the facts I’d probably not enjoy the taste as much. I guess I let my dusty text books get a hold of me. My only point (that was completely lost in my failed attempt to be precise) was that if there were as many Spyders on the roads as say Ford Taurus’ would my car be as unique (forget the resale value). I don’t think that is the case with SEI; you have enveloped Beck’s production # while introducing Chamonix large scale to the US.

Your point about logistics is well understood, keep the pipeline @ capacity & moving. The capacity sounds smaller than my initial assumptions. Then you really must be in it for the love of the car, b/c with no help from economies of scale you sustain modest margins. I still don’t get the $100k - $250K distributor buy in. If it’s a franchise fee – understood. But you mentioned it’s not – only inventory. $100K of inventory would be ~ 4 cars ($250K ~ 10 cars), right? Or are there additional service items included in inventory?

Still, I’d love to read your business plan.

I was aware of Chamonix years ago (as well as other manufactures outside the US domain). There was something about the subtle lines of a Chamonix car I saw in Belgium or France a few years ago that I really liked. (could've been the beer)

Simon, sorry about the confusing rant. In other terms, if Wal-Mart found a manufacturer in say Lesotho of green thongs (I often wonder when my first post contain “green thong” would come) & were poised to distribute the product en-mass; your uniqueness in terms of that commodity wouldn’t seem so ‘special’.
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Postby 24+yearsinthebiz » Sun Oct 02, 2005 11:20 am

AJK,

Yes, Special Edition has been in the Specialty Auto Business since 1982. About 24 years. I did NOT say that we had been in the Spyder business 24 years. This is where you may be confused a bit.

I started working in Brazil with Brazilian specialty car companies in late 1979.

I've posted all of this elsewhere and won't go into details again. long story short, met Chuck at a \"kit car\" show in Vegas, about '84, he was from Upland - Beck Development.

He had his spyder, which he developed, tooled and made 100% in CA. I had my ENVEMO 356C Cabrio which was made 100% in Brazil.

The immediate result of that meeting was me taking Chuck to our plant in Brazil. We lived together there, worked shoulder to shoulder for over a year re-tooling the Spyder and making changes. Example - the original Beck had doors that swung outside the \"A\" pillar and a hood that removed, no hinges. Early kit buyers know this to be true.

We made these type of changes using parts that we had access to from VW do Brazil.

So, Brazilian production of the Spyder came to be because he and I did the work to make it happen. Chamonix did not exist before the Spyder, but rather was created to produce the Spyder.

My old boss/partner/friend from PUMA, Milton Masteguin, helped form this company, and the name (Chamonix) came from the furniture/cabinet factory where we occupied a small corner when we went into production.This factory was run by Miltons son, Newton, now the outright owner of Chamonix.

One of my small companies kept the importation rights. Chuck kept full control of the USA marketing/distribution....which he sold about 3 years ago to CBMS.

(By the way, I did not make a \"big deal\" out of the import/distribution. I was simply trying to get the point across that there is a differnce between importing and distributing. (It seems to elude you that there can be more to a deal than you see from the consumer end of the transaction.)

Here's a fact for you. No one, not Chuck, not Dean, not SEI has EVER imported a Chamonix product. All have sold them.

So, in a nutshell, that is who I am. A pioneer of the Brazilian Specialty car industry (for what that is worth), and someone you have never heard of.

I am a close friend of Chucks for over 20 years now. We still work on projects together, stay at each others homes, and generally try to avoid meaningful employment.

Short of writing my biography here, and putting everyone in a coma. I need not reassure you of anything. Enjoy your Spyder.

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Postby 24+yearsinthebiz » Sun Oct 02, 2005 11:54 am

Stitchmon,

Love the coffee analogy, may I use it?

Chamonix has 4 products. The Spyder, the Spyder S, the BECK Speedster, and we are soon to re-introduce the 356C Cabriolet (ex-ENVEMO project) again.

The investment mentioned is dealer (we have no distributors) inventory, yes. What is it that is confusing or, perhaps \"wrong thinking\" about this?

Our intent is to get representation in major market areas, that are otherwise unaccessable by enthusiastic, reasonably funded current players in the exotic/specialty car business that, like the product, have confidence in our organization, and don't need to make their entire existance off of it.

We offer good margins and expect to gain sales that we would otherwise never get. Our dealers report that their sales to walk-ins on general curiousity exceed Spyder/Speedster specific visitors. (Hope I am being clear here.)

Everyone on this forum is a specialty car enthusiast. That is a given. Many are owners. The view from that perspective is \"distorted\" if I may. I am not saying this in a negative way, just hear me out, please.

I am still amazed that after over 24 years of MANY (and I mean literally multiple hundreds) of car shows that we have attended the most common comment is - \"Wow. I did not even know that this type product existed\".
(This obviously does not apply to Carlisle or a \"kit\" show, but all others.)

Honestly. I am not being sarcastic here, and it raises some very interesting challenges.

Does one advertise in a \"kit\" magazine? (People who read this must be interested in our type of product, right?) or,

Advertise in a major car magazine? (After all, they write about our stuff every now and then) or,

Is your budget better allocated to ANY avenue that leads to the affluent customers we generally have?

Thanks for listening.

Back to the football game.

Kevin
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Postby gtwatson » Sun Oct 02, 2005 2:13 pm

Kevin;
Parts of Houston are a little dangerous after dark and after the bars close. I didn't know I was close to the old \"factory\". Are you back in Indiana to be like Cord and Dusenberg? :D

Simon;
If you read my joke, I passed out, lost my wallet, and was left with some receipts (no viagra). Boy, it's just not funny when you have to explain the jokes. :(
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Postby Simonster » Sun Oct 02, 2005 2:27 pm

my girlfriend will be very disappointed. again.
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Postby gtwatson » Sun Oct 02, 2005 2:47 pm

Simonster wrote:my girlfriend will be very disappointed. again.

I can understand your confusion. Your mind is just not right since you missed the James Dean 50th with your new spyder. [):] Maybe you should order a SEI Chamonix Spyder from Kevin and see which one arrives first. :D Just kidding. I don't know if I could display your good humor under the same circumstances.
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Postby laneco » Sun Oct 02, 2005 3:01 pm

Kevin,
I want you to understand that I am very much looking forward to seeing one of the Chamonix cars in real life. But I have an issue I was hoping you could address. When we built our car (a Thunder Ranch) there were several items Made in Brazil that came with our kit. Further, we purchased a Beck interior which was also made in Brazil. The guage package was the biggest fiasco. The made in Brazil guages required complete re-working. After sending the brand new guages to Palo Alto to have them fixed and calibrated, they came back operational. Now one of them just filles up with condensation every morning when I start the car but that clears up after a while. The trip meter does not work and Palo Alto states that this is common with the Brazil guages and they cannot reliably repair it. The headlight assemblys are Made in Brazil. They offer poor fit, could only be adjusted after modifications, inferior chrome and fasteners and the included rubber seals had half of one missing completely and the complete one did not fit properly. The interior looks pretty and is Made in Brazil. The carpet is not automotive carpet according to several upholstery shops who have looked at it. It is household carpeting and very poor quality at that. That explains why it is so oddly thick and difficult to form around curves. The seat leather is very soft and supple. it also has numerous seam defects that detract from overall quality and will lead to additional repair work down the way.

At the risk of sounding like a complete bitch, Kevin, I can actively demonstrate that 3 out of 3 Made in Brazil items are of quality that is not acceptable to a discriminating buyer. How are you addressing quality control issues in your products? In other words, are you using the same low quality products that I have been repairing/replacing and discarding on my vehicle? Or do you have a superior source? angela
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Postby 24+yearsinthebiz » Sun Oct 02, 2005 3:26 pm

GTWATSON,

In South Bend area. home of Studebaker. Only carriage company to make the transition from the wagon to the motorcar.

The off-shoot was, of course, Avanti motor Corp. I held the position of President and CEO for about 18 months during the development of a transition project from GM to the current model, on a ford platform.

I hired Chuck Beck as head engineer for the project (which fulfilled a long standing joke we had that whichever of us got a real job first had to bring the other along for the ride!)

This is the reason he is located ibn GA, as Avanti is now in Villa Rica, a susurb of Atlanta.

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Postby 24+yearsinthebiz » Sun Oct 02, 2005 3:51 pm

Angela,

Tom McBurnie, of TR bought Chuck's molds (the ones from his shop in Upland) when we remade the tooling in Brazil and no longer had any use for them. I know this because I was there at the time of sale, and saw the checks personally.

To best address your issues with interior we improved the carpeting to automotive standards about 3 years ago for our BECK Speedster project. This immediately carried over to the Spyder production as well.

I can whole heartedly agree with you regarding the chrome quality in Brazil. Flash chroming is the standard, and this is an inferior way to accomplish the task. The headlights are beetle assemblies. Cheap and, fortunately, cheap to replace and available in many places here in USA. virtually all of the VW aftermarket guys (scat, CB, IAP, CIP, etc. all sell the same stuff. Also from Brazil.

As for the gages, I am at a loss to explain your difficulties. We sold and delivered 72 speedsters this year and have had NO gage failures. I stock replacement gages (these were first developed in Brazil, by VDO for the ENVEMO project in 1982-3 era) and have dealt with VDO since that time without significant difficulty.

I do not want to sound rude or unconcerned here. Please do not misunderstand what I am about to say.

I want to point out that you are talking about quality issue on a TR car, not made by our company with only a reference to Brazilian quality issues in general.

Seems a big leap to assume these issues are in another, completely different product. But please, do not take my word for it. I would love for you to see the finished product. We have stock in house at all times.

If you get the opportunity to visit one of our dealers, please do so. In the mean time, if we can assist you further. Please call or email.

Visit our site
www.beckspeedster.com There is contact info there.

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Postby 24+yearsinthebiz » Sun Oct 02, 2005 4:09 pm

George,

Navigation Blvd. was a great place to be. close to the ship channel, and that suport, but a bit wild.

The best part was we were across from the Community Coffee grinding facility. The \"dust\" that constantly permeated the shop was very fine coffee powder, which we had been breathing all day, every day.

Talk about a caffeine buzz!

As for filling orders fastest. We keep inventory of air cooled and water cooled spyders in stock. We are reverting to the old Chuck philosophy.

Silver Blue or straight Silver w/ red interior is 90% of stock. Might have a black interior here also.

All h2o cars are SilverBlue/red. the original color Chuck chose for Brazilian production back in mid 80's.

(Here is a bit of spyder trivia - Chuck is Blue/yellow colorblind, so he really can not see the blue tint in the color too well.) He swears it is just Silver.!

I want to place an open invitation to anyone wishing to visit our facility to please do so. We are 80 miles East of Chicago, in the middle of very quaint Amish country, and fall is beautiful here.

Thank you.

hope all is well in TX.

Kevin
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Postby WasserSpyder » Mon Oct 03, 2005 4:56 am

Angela (et al.),

A note about your gauges. VDO instructs that you do not reset your trip while in motion. May sound dumb, and may not be the cause in your case, but the few trip failures I've seen have been due to this.

As for calibration, the gauges are made for a 644mm overall radius tire. I doubt you are running tall and skinny (tires that is) with the 911 powerplant. You may have a close enough tire radius that it shouldn't have mattered, I don't know. If the latter is the case, then it boils down to a VDO warantee problem, which we handle for our customers.

I have seen condensation (in a few rare instances) as well, due to an improperly sealed gauge. This is covered by VDO under the warranty, however since they were opened and recalibrated by Palo, I doubt they would cover them. If it was one of the gauges that Palo opened, I'd call Hartmut and let him know about it.

The only headlight fitment problems I have seen are due to the aftermarket buckets (they are too narrow). They \"pre-load\" the spring on the adjuster screws of the headlight and make aiming very difficult. However. since we make (and have improved) our own buckets, we do not have this issue.

We have changed the stitching in the leather to a \"French\" stitch (double stitched) which has eliminated the seam pulling that you refer to (I only assume that is the problem with your interior, as it is the reason I made the change).
The current carpet is a vast improvement over the past choices, but still not what I want. This is another change that we will impliment in a few weeks when we return to Brazil.

The point is that we work hand in hand with the factory, have the ability to make changes/improvements, improve suppliers if necessary, etc.... and we DO this on a regular basis.

Other improvements (on aircooled and h2o) in the last few months include:

We have changed the wiring harness to a non VW based design. This eliminates the brake and turn on the same circuit, allowing for true hazard lights, which is required in many states now.

This change also allowed us to relocate the horn button to the center of the steering wheel, a more natural location. Self parking wipers, and self canceling turn signals are also a benefit of these changes.
While doing this we upgraded to automotive \"blade\" style fuses. We also ran a few extra wires in the main harness so one could wire in a fan for an oil cooler, light, etc... from the factory harness.

Cable shifter is now a standard feature on the spyder.

Top and side curtains are standard.

Through the help of Sikkens, we have eliminated the aluminized flake in the silver and silver-blue paints, making it an easier color to match if need be.

The good majority of the parts are still made in house, but now with more technological advantages. (i.e. Hinges and such are now lazer cut)

The point being that there is always room for improvement, and we have taken the initiative to do so. We will continue to do so.
The h2o spyder has been one of the largest examples of development of the spyder. While not appealing to everyone, MANY love the idea of a \"jump in and drive\" spyder with the ability to have heat and/or A/C, Chuck included.

Off to work now...

Carey
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Postby Wayner » Mon Oct 03, 2005 5:48 am

If I understand this business transition correctly, why not simply call it a Beck by Chamonix, and avoid all of the branding confusion?

Also, as far as where to advertise, I'd lean farther towards the Rob Report over Kit car Magazine if you get my drift.
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Postby Simonster » Mon Oct 03, 2005 7:23 am

IIRC, i've seen adverts from prestige in porsche-specific mags like excellence. mainstream enough to have a substantial audience, but also educated enough to know/care what the car resembles?

that sounds like a good balance.
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Postby AJK » Mon Oct 03, 2005 7:28 am

Kevin,

Thank you for your reply and a little more history.

I must complement you on your calm and reasoned replies not only to my posts but to all the others as well.

Given your attitude toward our barrage of sceptical posts, I think you will do well and I wish you good luck.
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