CLASSIC: Long lost James Dean Porsche gearbox emerges in the US
Hollywood star James Dean died in a horror crash driving his Porsche 550 Spyder, aged 24 in 1955. His ‘Little Bastard’ struck a Ford aged Tudor sedan that skipped a yield onto a north Los Angeles highway and then careered into a pole.
Dean was allegedly not speeding at the time, he but tragically died at the scene. His mechanic Rolf Wütherich, escaped seriously injured.
The California Highway Patrol later used the wreck of the Porsche in a 1960 road safety tour through the US. The wreck was later broken up and Its parts either scrapped or sold as spares for other Porsches. The car was considered lost. Now Dean’s 550 Spyder transmission has re-emerged, 60 years later.
JAMES DEAN GEARBOX LAY UNNOTICED FOR 30 YEARS
It seems the gearbox lay unnoticed, stored in a box for over 30 years. Classic Porsche dealer and restorer Don Ahearn of Porsport acquired the the crated transmission as part of a bundle of parts from a Massachusetts restoration company. On researching the part numbers on the gearbox casings with Porsche historian Lee Raskin, it transpired that component 100 46 matched the Dean Spyder’s 550-0055 chassis number.
The facts are verified by an official Porsche 1983 letter. The assembly is mounted on a trolley together with its retrofit accessories for display. And the search is on for engine number 90 059 and albeit unlikely, that chassis, too.