The history of the Porsche 550 Spyder and the incredible model that Auxietre & Schmidt has for sale.
In 1953 Porsche made its first competition car known, the Porsche 550 Spyder, a creation based on its predecessor Porsche 356 model developed in 1951. It was in production until 1956 and only 90 units were produced from this small competition car, the first time it took part in a competition in May 1953 at the Nurburgring Eifel Race won it, many other victories in its 1.1 and 1.5 litre class followed and was almost always on the podium in the competitions in which it competed, from where the victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Carrera Panamericana stands out. However, its high point was in 1956, when a later version, the 550A, with a lighter and more rigid chassis, won the Targa Florio, one of the great competitions of the time, in 1957 it was replaced by its successor, the Porsche 718, which was even more successful.
At a technical level, the Porsche 550 Spyder was built on the basis of a two-seater open aluminium body with a weight of only 550 kg, based on a centrally engine tubular chassis, with a 1.5 litre (1,498 cc), air-cooled engine, four opposite cylinders (boxer), an engine that became known as “Type 547”. In terms of transmission, the first 550 was equipped with a synchronized 4-speed gearbox and in the last year of production, it was used for the first time with a 5-speed gearbox.
In 2016 Bonhams auctioned off a 1956 Porsche 550 Spyder, with chassis number 550-0090, which was swept away for £ 4,593,500, setting the record for the most expensive Porsche 550 Spyder sold to date. More recently in February 2019 at Place Vauban in Paris, the renowned auctioneer RM Sotheby’s, auctioned another unit of the Porsche 550 RS Spyder from 1956, with chassis number 550-0082, which was snatched up by € 3,042,500, unable to beat the previous record.
As not everything that glitters is gold, the Porsche 550 Spyder’s history is not just about successes, it will also be forever remembered as the car that killed the promising North American actor James Dean, who in 1955 with only 24 years old while driving his Porsche 550 with the chassis number 550-0055, the so-called “Little Bastard”, whose name he baptized him, was rammed by a driver in the opposite direction, causing his death.
So, we bring you, one of these incredible examples that are for sale today through our friends at Auxietre & Schmidt, it is a Porsche 550 Spyder with chassis number 550-0050 from 1955.
This car, after being produced in 1955, was sent to the US west coast to its first owner Jim Cook, who together with C. Pitt Browe competed with this Porsche 550 until 1965, of the 6 races disputed totaled two first and two fourth places. During the 1980s it was owned by Frank C. Cook who later ended up selling it to European Auto Sales Los Angeles. In the late 1980s and on behalf of the Japanese client Mr. Yoshida it was completely restored without looking at costs, with impressive attention to detail. In the late 1990s, the car was sold to car dealer Benoit Couturier, who shortly afterwards sold it to Claude Picasso, son of Pablo Picasso. Claude Picasso participated in some competitions with the 550 Spyder, namely Targa Florio and Le Mans Classic Editions. It was later sold to car collector Jean Guittard, who just 8 months later sold it to French singer Florent Pagny.
In this millennium, in 2005, it was auctioned in Paris and bought by David Holder, CEO of Ladurée and in 2008 it is sold again to its current owner. Since its purchase, this Porsche 550 Spyder has been used very few times and has rarely appeared in public.
The entire chronicle, technical details and racing history of this Porsche 550 Spyder are available on the Auxietre & Schmidt website. It should also be noted that with the vehicle also follows a dossier with dozens of photos of the restoration. The price is available on request.
Credits: Stephan Bauer for Auxietre & Schmidt