Major Part of James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder Surfaces

Sep 30, 2020

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 was stored in a wooden crate and hidden from public view for over 30 years, according to Porsche collector Don Ahearn, who will unveil the find.

This assembly may be the only documented and provable part of the James Dean Spyder known to still exist, the finder says. 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, Ahern says.

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, Ahern says, and 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.

Ahern says future plans include 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.