It's one of just 90 models ever made and is now up for sale.
Perhaps it's little surprise that a member of the Picasso family, a name more associated with art than almost any other, crossed paths with the Porsche 550 Spyder, an iconic sports car noted for its mid-engined racing design and extremely low, proportionally perfect body. Today, its spirit lives on in models like the fantastic Porsche 718 Spyder, but there will only ever be one 550. Of course, it also achieved infamy as the car being driven when Hollywood actor James Dean died in a fatal crash. The 1955 550 Spyder seen here is chassis 550-0050 and one of just 90 examples, and it's now for sale, with a listing on Auxietre & Schmidt.
Claude Picasso, son of Pablo Picasso, is a Porsche collector and once owned this very 550 Spyder, as did renowned French singer Florent Pagny and Mr. Yoshida, a Japanese car collector. The Porsche 550 Spyder has attained legendary status and often sells for millions of dollars when one does go on sale, and we don't see that changing with this exceptional example, which was meticulously restored between 1988 and 1992. Originally, it was painted in silver with a black interior and began its life on the US west coast.
A full original restoration dossier including many photographs will be provided with the sale of the car, which was acquired by the existing owner in 2008. Although mileage isn't given, the 550 has not been driven much at all over the last decade or so, which explains its superb condition. The absence of a windshield remains a striking element of this Porsche, in contrast to today's 911 Carrera Cabriolet and pretty much every other roofless sports car in existence. This particular 550's racing history includes a first-place finish by James Cook early in 1956 at the Mansfield Airport in Louisiana, and another winning result in August, 1960, at the Bonneville Nationals.
First introduced in 1953, the 550 was built on a seamless mild steel tubing frame, with a 1.5-liter air-cooled, all-alloy 'Four-Cam' engine soon replacing pushrod Porsche engines which were used in earlier examples. The chassis weighed only 590 kilograms (around 1,300 pounds) and the 550 could top out at 140 mph. Consider that today's Porsche Boxster weighs over 3,000 lbs in base form, and it puts into perspective what a lightweight the 550 Spyder is. Pricing for the pristine example seen here is available on request, but the lucky future owner will attain not only one of Porsche's most iconic models, but one with a rich racing and owner history.