Almost 65 years to the day of James Dean’s death behind the wheel of his “Little Bastard” Porsche 550 Spyder, the car’s transaxle has been discovered. As documented, the car was stripped for parts after Dean’s tragic accident on September 30, 1955. Some components went to other racers, while the mangled shell was bought by George Barris, and sent on a morbid road safety tour before apparently disappearing for good in 1960.
There have always been rumors about what became of the car, but this is the first time in decades that proof of its continued existence has been provided.
Porsche broker Don Ahearn acquired the transaxle in March of this year from Jack Styles, of restoration specialists Paul Russell and Company, who is believed to have had stored it in a crate for 30 years. Ahearn says that he plans to exhibit it at car shows or possibly sell it to a museum.
The part’s provenance has proven by Porsche historian Lee Raskin. Little Bastard’s chassis number was 550-0055 and was married to engine number 90 059 and gearbox number 10 046. That final number is clearly visible on the transaxle.
Perhaps now that this key component has re-emerged the rest of the 550’s remains will resurface.
Report by Nik Berg for hagerty.com
Photos by Don Ahearn