James Dean's Cursed Car: What Mechanic College Students Can Learn from the Porsche 550 Spyder
October 3, 2018
Still, the 550 Spyder model is most associated with James Dean and the apparent curse around his car. Read on to learn more about how this legendary sportscar works, and the fate of its iconic driver.
Speeding Ahead: The History of the 550
The 550 first debuted at the 1953 Paris Auto Show and quickly took the international racing circuit by storm. Due to its simple, lightweight design, which focused on including only the absolute automotive basics, it stood apart from its racing predecessors that featured heavy bodies and large tires.
What Grads of Mechanic Colleges Can Find Under the Hood
For those who want to become a certified mechanic, it’s important to know why the Porsche 550 is considered to be iconic. Essentially, it was a matter of simplicity. A minimalist, two-seater interior allowed the design to focus more on what was under the hood, rather than superficial details.
At its core, the 550 features a lightweight aluminum engine which can drive the car from zero to 100 miles per hour in 7 seconds, and produces around 110 horsepower. For grads of mechanic colleges, those specs might not sound super impressive anymore. However, at the time it was quite something. The engine is also mounted in front of the rear axle, which gives it a more balance weight distribution.
Was James Dean’s Car Really Cursed?
The actor James Dean was famous for his brief but incredible career in film, with only three movies completed in his lifetime, two of which earned him Academy Award nominations. Dean was also a racing enthusiast and even participated in a variety of competitions. On 30 September 1955, Dean, along with his Porsche factory-trained mechanic, was headed for a weekend race in California when he swerved to avoid a turning car and crashed his 550, an accident which cost him his life.
Eventually, the car was donated to the California Highway Patrol to be used in an exhibition that discouraged speeding, but before it could open, the garage housing the car burned down, leaving the 550 undamaged. Afterwards, while it was again being transported, the driver of the truck lost control and crashed. A short time later, the car completely disappeared. Perhaps it’s coincidence, or perhaps even the un-superstitious mechanic should be wary if ever this car resurfaces again.
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