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porsche hangout The Mystery of James Dean’s Porsche

PorscheThe Ongoing Mystery of James Dean’s Infamous Porsche

Many of us can recount some of the major details surrounding the tragic and untimely death of James Dean.

The place was U.S. Route 466, the time was around 5h15pm and the accident took place when James, driving his Porsche 550 Spyder, slammed into a Ford Tudor, whose driver made a hesitant attempt to pull away from an intersection. For most of us, the death of James behind the wheel of a racing sports car eerily tied into the rebellious, unpredictable and volatile image associated with the actor.

But how much do you know about Dean’s specific Porsche 550 Spyder and its ultimate disappearance?

Produced from 1953 to 1956 for auto racing purposes, it sat extremely low to the ground for added efficiency. James Dean’s model was one of the first 90 to be produced, dubbed Little Bastard, and was numbered 130. Dean had suddenly traded in his Porsche 356 Super Speedster for a silver 550 on September 21st, 1955, a mere nine days before the fatal crash.

At James’s request, custom car painter Dean Jeffries painted the number ‘130’ on the car’s hood, doors, and rear deck lid, along with the words Little Bastard inscribed on the back. Supposedly, the story behind the name is that it was given to Dean by Bill Hickman, a Warner Bros. stunt driver who became friendly with Dean. Dean, in turn, called Hickman Big Bastard. With its custom work completed, the car gave off a distinctly menacing appearance. Alec Guiness, an actor that Dean met outside of a restaurant on September 23rd, described the sports car as “sinister”. Uncannily, the events that followed Dean’s death spoke of a machine that was sinister in more ways than just its appearance.

George Barris, who customized the car originally, bought the wreck for $2500. Shortly after this, the car fell off a trailer, breaking a mechanic’s leg. Other parts of the car that were used elsewhere were also linked to several accidents, some of them fatal. This all led up to the Little Bastard suddenly vanishing while being transported by the California Highway Patrol. Yet now, 60 years after the actor’s death, this mystery may just be that much closer to being solved.

A man from Whatcom County in Washington came forward earlier this year claiming that he saw the car being concealed behind the false wall of a building when he was just six. A subsequent polygraph test with the unidentified man was passed, but he has yet to reveal the exact location until an agreement can be made regarding a reward. A decade ago, the Chicago-based Volo Alto Museum offered $1million to the person in possession of Dean’s infamous Porsche, stating that the offer still stands. Brian Grams, director of the museum, described it all as “one of the biggest mysteries in automotive and entertainment history”.

While there have been several tips offered up as to the whereabouts of the most notorious Porsche of them all, this latest development seems more legitimate than most.

As the next few weeks roll by, we’ll be keeping a close eye on how the story unfolds and hope that, once and for all, we can put to bed the mystery of James Dean’s Little Bastard.

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