SPEEDSTER MOTORCARS: A HISTORY
Founded in 1995 by former Southeastern Replicars production manager Michael Akins, Speedster Motorcars set forth to produce the best Auburn Boattail Speedster reproduction. From a meager one bay garage in Florida, to over 30 years later a 30,000 square foot facility producing Auburn replicas at a rate never accomplished or even attempted before. Speedster Motorcars has now entrenched itself as a leader in the replica car market today.
Every story has a beginning…
Michael Akins has had a passion for the Auburns and Cords of years past from a very young age. At 21, he already had been hard at work at his own small one man restoration facility when he saw an add in a local paper looking for a shop foreman for the prestigious Antique Autos of America, owned and operated by David Samuels in Largo, Florida. Knowing that he had the talents to do the job, he interviewed and was hired the same day. With over fifty employees, Antique Autos of America was one of the premier auto restoration facilities in the United States. Cars restored by Antique Autos included the famed Frank Lloyd Wright L29 Cord in 1979
The company was so well respected that cars would just show up on trailers to be restored, not even knowing whom the cars belonged to. Southeastern Replicars was a side company of Antique Autos of America, the replica division. Southeastern Replicars produced the 1935 Auburn Boattail Replica in kit and turnkey forms, then later adding the 810 Cord Phaeton, or what Southeastern called, the 815SE Phaeton. Southeastern Replicars heyday of building Auburn and Cord replicas ended in the early 1980's due to the changing economy.
Fast forward to 1988, and Akins still has the passion and the dream of once again building the famed Auburn Boattail. After stints owning and operating a successful restoration shop in Palm Harbor, Florida, and another large-scale restoration facility in Homasassa, Florida, Akins again decided to go back to basics and start working on the dream that had lasted a lifetime, a new Auburn Boattail Speedster replica. Akins will start producing the first of his new generation of Auburn Replicas. Little did he know what it would lead to? The first car was to be painted bright yellow with lipstick red leather interior. Akins wanted something that when people looked at it, they said, "Wow..." Though the car was still based on late 1970's technology with a donor car being used for a chassis and engine as well as other parts of the build. What set this particular car apart from the rest was that it was the first car to utilize power windows, air conditioning, and a removable hardtop. Taken from an actual 1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster hardtop, this piece, along with the outstanding quality of the new Speedster once again propelled the car to the front pages of replica car magazines around the world. Speedster Motorcars was born. Production continued on the Auburn replica in a couple of different locations, in Florida, where Akins received his first orders for cars, Production totaled around four to five cars a year along with high quality collector car restorations 47 for one private collection in Pa . and restorations of older Auburn Speedsters from other manufacturers. Akins introduced the use of a late model 5.7 liter GM engine with fuel injection at this time to modernize the automobile. Different stages of Auburn Speedster kits were offered to customers who wanted to build their own cars. He also found that because of so many reproduction Auburns out in the world, there was a need for aftermarket parts that just were not available anymore. He started mass producing parts such as castings and bumpers to fill the needs of the hundreds of Auburn replica owners.
In 2002 Akins decided to move the company to a more noticeable location. Speedster Motorcars moved to a 5,000 square foot facility in Clearwater, Florida. The shop was a perfect location to continue to produce the Auburn Boattail. That same year, Akins brought his oldest son, Jeff, into the business and began to pass down the knowledge that he had gathered throughout the years. Even with Speedster Motorcars producing cars at the rate of about five cars a year, they never had more than a few employees. All that was about to change.
In the fall of 2002, with business really starting to take off, Mike and Jeff akins decided that the building they were in just wasn’t going to be enough. The two came to an agreement that there was a need for a mass-produced Auburn Boattail Speedster replica and they set out on a course that would rewrite the books on how to build a proper Auburn replica.
With some financial backing, Speedster Motorcars in a matter of months went from a 5,000 square foot facility in Clearwater to a 30,000 square foot full production facility in Pinellas Park, Florida. They then set about to put together a team of people that would make history producing what some have called the absolute best Auburn recreation. They were able to take the car to the next level by using a full custom fabricated chassis, dubbed the Speedster Gen II which used rectangle 4" x 2" steel with full cross members throughout to provide strength and rigidity. The days of using donor cars were a thing of the past. They utilized a fully modern 5.3 liter General Motors fuel injected engine that was completely computerized. Speedster Motorcars was able for the first time to use what they wanted to make this a real, fully functional, everyday driver automobile, and that is how they advertised it.
After a few months, Speedster Motorcars was once again on the front pages of countless auto magazines. Showing the world what a high-quality replica was supposed to look like. Speedster Motorcars for the first time started a dealer network across the country in which a customer could drive and see a new Auburn Speedster replica in person. In the first year of production with the help of over thirty employees, Speedster Motorcars was churning out car after car, producing twenty- three in the first year alone. Along side of the production, Speedster Motorcars was continuing to do some high quality restorations, total frame-offs to simple interior work, they never said that a job was too big or small for them. They now had some of the best fabricators in the business helping design their world- class automobiles.
By the beginning of 2004, the production outlook was looking up as they were hoping to hit a high mark of fifty cars produced in the year. This same year, the Akins’ met long time hot roder, Terry Cook. Mr. Cook had been the brainchild behind countless custom automobiles including the famed Scrape, a chopped, channeled, and slammed 1939 Lincoln Zephyr. Cook had been producing replica bodies of his Scrape automobile for years and approached Akins about producing turnkey Lincoln Zephyr replicas. Akins thought that it might be a good
fit for the company. Development began on what Speedster Motorcars
dubbed their Z-Series line in mid 2004. This was to be a hot rod for the
masses. Being that a custom car would take someone years to have
built or build on their own, with the Z-Series they could just walk onto
the showroom and purchase a brand new hot rod at a decent price.
With a hardtop and a roadster available. Speedster Motorcars was
ready to take the world by storm with their new car. The first
Z-Series cars rolled off the production line in January 2005 to
rave reviews from customers, as they were selling quicker than Speedster could produce them. Later adding a Z-Series custom line in 2006 that showed you could build a show quality car in less than two months. All in all, Speedster Motorcars produced forty-one Zephyr replicas between 2005 and 2006. The high watermark in sales being an Alice Cooper themed Z-Series that ran through the famed Barrett Jackson Scottsdale auction bringing a cool quarter million dollars.
In mid 2006, Speedster Motorcars knew that they had to stay ahead of the curve and began to look for that next project. What presented itself was an opportunity to produce a replica of the world renowned 1955 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe. The car was to called the GW Coupe. The GW Coupe was so stunning that it propelled the company to the front of the magazines once again and even garnering its own write up in the New York Times
In 2009 Speedster Motorcars worked with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line to build a Auburn Speedster for display on the Oasis of the seas ship. Also 2010 The Allure of the seas Speedster motorcars built a 1935 Mercedes 500. In 2016 taking another contract building a Jaguar XK for the Harmony of the seas. Next two contracts in 2018 we built a VW Thing for the Navigator of the seas in the bamboo bar and a VW Dune Buggy for the Mariner of the seas. Great art work.
The V2 Speedster
Speedstermotorcars built a Speedster for Yasser the kings family of Saudi
In 2011 Speedster motorcars finished there 1937 Cord Speedster prototype which made the
front cover of several Magazines
Speedster Motorcars has become the epitome in neo-classic automobile production. They have shown throughout the years that if you can dream it, they can build it. Michael has shown the world that they can build world class automobiles and people have noticed.