1950s / German / News / Porsche

News: Is the hunt for James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder finally over?

Law enforcement officials, historians and enthusiasts have been looking for actor James Dean’s 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder for the past 55 years. Numerous folks claim they know what happened to the car, but no one’s ever been able to pinpoint its exact location and it hasn’t been seen out in the open since it was stolen in 1960.

The mystery might finally be resolved. Motivated by a hefty $1 million reward offered by the Volo Auto Museum, a man whose name hasn’t been released yet claims he knows where the car is hidden because he was present when it was stashed away.

On September 30th, 1955, 24-year old Dean was driving to a race in Salinas, California, when his tiny 550 collided with a considerably bigger Ford Tudor that turned left in front of him at an intersection. Dean was pronounced dead shortly after, and the wreckage of the 550 was later sold to a racer who used it for parts. Ultimately, it ended up in the hands of famed builder George Barris.

Barris initially wanted to rebuild the 550, but his plans changed and he ended up loading it to the National Safety Council. It was displayed all over the United States next to a sign that read “this accident could have been avoided…” in order to promote highway safety. In 1960, the 550 mysteriously disappeared while it was being transported from Miami, Florida, to Los Angeles, California.

The tipster claims that, when he was six-years old, he saw his dad and a few other men hide the 550 behind a fake wall in a building located in Whatcom County, Washington. The man doesn’t offer an explanation for why the car was stolen or why it wound up in the pacific northwest, but his story allegedly checks out because he provided details that only an eyewitness would be familiar with.

There is an issue: the tipster doesn’t own the building, and the folks who do presumably don’t know what it’s hiding. The man won’t disclose the location of the building until he’s certain he can pocket at least part of the reward, and the museum won’t pay a dime until it’s certain that it can legally acquire the car. Discussions (which at this point involve lawyers) are on-going, and the museum hopes Dean’s 550 will see the light of day for the first time in over half a century in the not-too-distant future. It’s worth noting that 89-year old George Barris — who is presumably the Spyder’s last legal owner — hasn’t weighed in on the issue yet.

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