Sixty-five years after the infamous crash, a major component of the James Dean Porsche 550 Spyder has surfaced. Found in rural Massachusetts, the original and complete transaxle assembly will see the light of day after being stored in a wooden crate and hidden from public view for over 30 years. Porsche collector Don Ahearn unveils this discovery from the car that many Porsche enthusiasts consider to be the most famous of the marque.
This assembly may be the only documented and provable part of the James Dean Spyder known to still exist, and it is certainly the only part anyone may be able to see publicly. It is one of three permanently traceable components of a 550 Spyder. These include; the chassis, the engine, and the gearbox/transaxle. This transaxle is stamped with the correct factory serial number #10046.
The transaxle has been in continuous, documented ownership and it has been authenticated by experts as far back as 1984 as being the original component to the Dean 550.
The history of James Dean and his 550 Spyder has been well written elsewhere so there is no need to repeat it here in detail.
The original body/chassis #550-055 was reported stolen in 1960 while returning from a highway safety exhibit, never to be seen again. There have been rumors in past years of the whereabouts of the lost wreck though none have been substantiated. The original engine #P90059 is reported to still be in California, though it has not been seen nor verified in decades. This gearbox assembly could be the only verifiable part of the famous car that will ever be available to be seen by fans of James Dean.
Now removed from the wooden crate, the transaxle is mounted in a display stand that was custom fabricated by expert metal shaper Steve Hogue. It displays the assembly exactly as it was in the original 550 Spyder.
Future plans for this incredible piece of history call for the possible sale to a major collection or museum. The sale will be the first time ever any part of the original Spyder is offered publicly. September 30, 2020 marks the 65th anniversary of the legendary actor’s death.