The 50th birthday Porsche 911 will be unveiled at next month’s Frankfurt motor show – but it isn’t the first and won’t be the last special-edition Porsche.
One that is honoured each year in California is the Porsche 550 Spyder, in which heart-throb Hollywood actor James Dean was killed in 1955, eight years before the 911 first appeared.
Dean, 24, was on his way to a road race near Salinas when he collided with a Ford coupe, driven by 23-year-old Donald Turnupseed.
Dean’s mechanic, German Rolf Wutherich, was severely injured. Dean had earlier got a speeding ticket for doing 105km/h in a 90km/h area.
Apparantly, British actor (Sir) Alec Guinness looked at the Porsche Spyder and told Dean: “If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week.” This encounter took place on September 23, 1955, seven days before Dean’s death.
The actor’s love affair with the marque began in March 1955 when he bought a Porsche 356, 1500cc Super Speedster convertible.
He traded in the 356 for a limited-edition silver 550 Spyder six months later. He had the number 130 and his nickname “Little Bastard” painted on the car.
Dean got the moniker while making the film Giant, opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. But he died in the Porsche only days after the film was finished.
Dean remains a cultural icon of the typical misunderstood teenager. He starred in three films: Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden, and Giant. He remains the only actor to be nominated for an Academy Award posthumously.