Porsche Spyders

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At the heart of “The Lost Spyder” is the prize: an original Porsche 550 Spyder. The mid-engined 550 Spyder ushered Porsche into the world of competitive motorsport. The Spyders scored significant victories in the 1950s, establishing the upstart Porsche firm as a leader in racing.

Cementing its legend was the tragic death of James Dean, who in 1955 was killed in a head-on collision between his Spyder and a Ford sedan. In the wake of Dean’s death, a legend arose that his 550 Spyder (famously nicknamed “Little Bastard”) was cursed and brought ill fortune to subsequent owners.

The Type 550 Spyder was produced by Porsche over a four-year span from 1953 to 1956. In total, fewer than 150 cars bearing this moniker were built. As a result, each surviving vehicle has appreciated dramatically in value. Today an original 550 Spyder is purchased more for investment than enjoyment. These cars are often worth more than a million dollars each.

Vintage 550 Spyder

Since original cars are so rare and expensive, the replica market is active. Several independent companies (such as California’s Vintage Spyders) have produced replicas based upon the original Spyder design. Replicas typically feature a fiberglass (rather than aluminum) body and are powered by an air-cooled four-cylinder Volkswagen engine. When 550 Spyders make appearances in Hollywood films or even Porsche factory television commercials, replicas are typically used.

Although the term “Spyder” has been somewhat diluted over the years by other auto companies, Type 550 is generally considered to be the first of its kind. Porsche resurrects the Spyder branding on an ongoing basis, most recently with its first hybrid electric vehicle, the Type 918 Spyder.

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