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Sunday, May 23, 2021

The legendary Porsche 550 Spyder 'Little Bastard' of James Dean

Talking about mystical and haunted things, usually it will be directly related to buildings, but in fact other inanimate objects such as cars that have not been used for a long time are also often considered to have a strange and mystical aura that is sometimes incomprehensible rationally. Regardless of whether this is true or not, some of the stories are still interesting to read and listen. Even more so if there is another conspiracy behind it.
1955 Porsche 550 Spyder 'Little Bastard' once owned by James Dean. (Picture from: Hagerty)
One of the cars that is often reported by the media because it is said to be haunted is the Porsche 550 Spyder was once owned by James Dean, a legendary handsome actor of the 1950s. The German-made fast car is powered by a 4-cylinder 1,498 cc engine was once often used by the actor for speeding on the road.
James Dean passed away after his 'Little Bastard' is involved in a catastrophic collision on the way to a race meeting in September 30, 1955. (Picture from: Hagerty)
Fyi, the type of the James Dean owned car was one of the 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder Limited Editions with the VIN 550-0055, which given the Porsche's '50s typical race livery and No.130. And James Dean is not the only famous person who has owned a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, it turns out that there are several other famous figures such as Claude Picasso, the son of the famous painter Pablo Picasso, who also owned the German-made sportscar.

The Porsche 550 Spyder nicknamed the 'Little Bastard' was given to Bill Hickman, one of James Dean's colleagues not for the private vehicle, but for the purposes of making a film. Reportedly also the name pinned to the body of the car, the 'Little Bastard' is James Dean's nickname which is said to have been given by the Warner Bros boss while felt annoyed with the actor.
Possibly the last picture of James Dean before the fatal crash of the Porsche 550 Spyder 'Little Bastard'. (Picture from: DriveTribe)
Furthermore, the strange aura of the car had actually been seen by some of James Dean's colleagues. As quoted from DriveTribe, once a time, James Dean was driving in this car around Los Angeles while on the way, he met Alec Guinness and then showed his brand-new car to the British actor. Alec felt and noticed a strange aura emanating from "Little Bastard," as he described in his diary as it's looked sinister, exhausted, hungry, and irritable.
James Dean behind the wheels of the 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder 'Little Bastard' and Rolf Wütherich on their way to Salinas. (Picture from: Hagerty)
"Please never get in it... if you get in that car you will be found dead in it by this time next week," Alec tried to warn Dean about the "strange aura" of the car. But James Dean laughed it off and set about preparing the car for the Salinas sports car races with his Porsche mechanic Rolf Wütherich and Bill Hickman. And sure enough, James Dean died seven days later, on September 30, 1955 in a fatal accident, when he was driving the car with Rolf Wütherich, his mechanic toward to the mentioned weekend race event.

At that time, the car driven by Dean running at a high speed of about 85 mph (137 kph) is collided with a Ford Tudor sedan driven by Donald Turdnupseed at an intersection of Route 46 in Cholame, California. James Dean died on the spot, and his car was destroyed. As reported from the History page, besides Dean, there were two other people who were also involved in the accident, namely the Ford sedan driver named Donald Turdnupseed who was in severe shock, and also mechanic Rolf Wütherich who suffered serious injuries all over his body.
The Porsche 550 Spyder "Little Bastard" after the impact in September 30, 1955. (Picture from: DriveTribe)
Not only that, the mechanic Rolf Wütherich was also haunted by guilt for years and attempted suicide twice during the 1960s. Until finally, in 1967 he began to lose consciousness and stabbed his wife 14 times with a kitchen knife. Due to mental instability, Wütherich was sent to a mental hospital instead of prison. And finally in 1981, the mechanic died drunk while driving.
After the death of the stylish young actor, it turned out that his "Little Bastard" also killed and injured many other people. (Picture from: Hagerty)
But the story doesn't end here. After the death of the stylish young actor who skyrocketed through the film "Rebel With a Cause", it turned out that his "Little Bastard" also killed and injured many other people. After the deadly accident, the carcass was taken to the junk yard, but when it was about to be unloaded from the trailer, the car wrecked slid uncontrollably and broke the leg of one of the mechanics. Since then, many strange things have happened to the car, such as moving on its own without anyone moving or controlling it. Some people said that the 'curse of Little Bastard' gained strength over the time.
The Porsche 550 Spyder 'Little Bastard' carcass after the deadly accident and left its haunting story never be revealed. (Picture from: Hagerty)
As happened to Dr. William Eschrid when he bought the 'Little Bastard' components from the junk yard such as the engine and others which were later used in his Lotus IX race car and his fellow doctor Troy McHenry's race car, and raced each other on the track at the 1956 Pomona sports-car races. What happened then? After a few laps, McHenry lost control of his car and crashed into a tree; and kill him instantly. Meanwhile, Eschrid had a sudden wheel lock, his car rolled several times, lucky to him not died, but was badly injured.
Turn out, the popularity of the "Little Bastard" attracted interest of the publicity monger and self-proclaimed 'King of Kustoms' George Barris to buy the carcass out of the junk yard for $2,500, promising to rebuild it. But when he found that the mangled frame could not be beyond recovery, Barris chose to capitalise on the car’s notoriety. Then the carcass of the Porsche 550 Spyder was loaned to the Los Angeles chapter of the National Safety Council ranging from 1957 to 1959, it went on a gruesome tour of car shows, cinemas and bowling alleys to campaign for safety driving.

While being stored in Fresno in March 1959, the car mysteriously caught on fire. The vehicle was slightly damaged, only two tires melted and some of the paint was scorched and luckily the fire did not spread to other vehicles in the warehouse. Then there is another unconfirmed horrible story about the 'Little Bastard' when it was exhibited at a local high school in Sacramento, which suddenly fell of its display then befall a student and broke the hip.
Meanwhile, Barris had sold a pair of tyres from the 550 and both reportedly blew at the same time, causing the new owner to career off the road. The 550 Spyder also reportedly fell on and killed George Barkus, the driver who transported it to a road-safety expo.

Finally, the Porsche is rumoured to have disappeared from a sealed boxcar in 1960 while en route from Miami to Los Angeles. Some believe that Barris, ever the showman, fabricated that story as a way of keeping the car’s mystique alive and left the haunting story of the 'Little Bastard' never be revealed. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | HAGERTY | ]
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