The modern-day update of James Deans' "Lil'Bastard" that never happened.
Its existence was rumored for years but continuously denied by Porsche. For those who recall, the German automaker had supposedly been working on and off on a roadster smaller than the Porsche 718 Boxster. This so-called entry-level model could have had a sub-$50,000 price tag and despite its ultra-compact dimensions, might have been the most hardcore roadster on the planet, if equipped with the right guts.
As it turns out, Porsche did indeed once strongly consider such a model to the point where Ferdinand Piech, who passed away in 2019 at age 82, ordered then Volkswagen Group design chief Walter de Silva to begin work on what became known as the 2008 Porsche 550one The Little Bastard Design.
Porsche fans will immediately understand the name's origin. The legendary actor and racing enthusiast James Dean was tragically killed in 1955 while driving his beloved Porsche 550, nicknamed the "Lil'Bastard", a powerful and bare-bones roadster. Dean was on his way to a race when he collided with a Ford station wagon on a two-lane California highway on September 30. Dean suffered a broken neck and "Lil'Bastard" was totaled.
The now-retired de Silva has just posted a few photos of the 550one on Instagram and, at first glance, it looks like a Boxster. "2008 - Porsche 550one The Little Bastard Design by Walter De Silva, Peter Wauda, Christian Felske, Romi Rost. Project wanted by Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Piech," the post states.
Painting the prototype silver - just like Dean's 550 - was surely no coincidence. Unfortunately, de Silva didn't provide any specific details, such as its engine and general specs. What's evidently clear, thanks to the side vents, is its mid-engine setup. There are additional vents on the rear deck lid. The interior looks very Porsche-like for 2008 and we love the gated manual transmission and strap door handles. Other notable design bits are 10-spoke alloy wheels and a single chrome exhaust outlet.
No reason was given as to why production never happened, but a decent guess would be that Porsche couldn't make the business case, as is common with niche sports cars. Still, it's nice to finally have official confirmation that Porsche once considered a sub-Boxster.