The Spyder Shines

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Handsome or what? A friend’s 1955 Porsche replica with a VW engine. Sweet baby sweet. It’s a replica of the same car that James Dean was driving when he died.


It was on September 30, 1955, that Dean and his mechanic Rolf Weutherich set off from Competition Motors, where they had prepared his Porsche 550 Spyder that morning for a sports car race at Salinas, California. The 550 is among the most frequently reproduced classic automobiles, like the Shelby Cobra and Lotus Seven.

Several companies have sprung up in the last 25 years, some of which build near-exact replicas from the ground up, including spaceframes built to exacting specs from Porsche blueprints. This is one of them.

The upside? The bright shine that the sun accentuates as it races around corners, the fact that you feel like you’re in a miniature but powerful boat not a car, and its simplicity (two buttons only – windshield wipers and lights). The only other thing on the dashboard is a place to insert the key.

The downside? Because its so compact, there is no storage (front or back) and the engine sits immediately behind you. Ear plugs and a scarf are both useful over a long haul, since the engine is incredibly loud and the fumes start to get a bit much after awhile.

Note that one of the tags I used for this post is fashion because that’s exactly what it is – a fashion statement. On top of being a statement however, it is also a great experience, particularly around the curves and windy bends of Malibu’s coastline. It roars, it sparkles and it flies.


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