James Dean loved acting. His other passion was racing. He was 18 when his interest in the sport grew. His first Porsche was a white 356 Super Speedster (the first Porsche to ever roll off the production line).
That car got him his first win, at a race in Palm Springs, California. As soon as filming was wrapped for the movie Giant, 24 year old Dean turned his attention to racing and decided to purchase a faster Porsche, the 550 Spyder, our feature car here.
Known for its “terrific performance and faultless handling”, according to Road and Track magazine, the 550 was actually a limited production race car, and its top speed was 135 mph, an impressive number back then.
Today, one can purchase a perfect replica of the 550, such as the one we got to photograph in Northern California, produced by the Indiana firm Beck. It’s outfitted with a 1961 VW engine, and has dual 2BBL carburetors. It has a top speed of 130 mph, and can go from 0 to 60 in 5.8 seconds. Beck’s website is www.beckspeedster.com