12/03/2008 ’55 Le Mans class winning Porsche emerges onto open market for first time in two decades
One of the most successful of all Porsche 550 Spyders - the Stuttgart marque’s first bespoke competition model as immortalized by Hollywood heart-throb James Dean - is to be offered on the open market for the first time in over 20 years.
This lightweight German sports car was one of three built in the factory’s Werke 1 in May 1955 for the Le Mans 24 Hour race of that year. Carrying race number ‘49’ (and chassis 550-0048’), it was the Porsche AG entry driven in the rain-soaked event by legendary Corvette guru Zora Arkus Duntov and Frenchman Auguste Veuillet (later Porsche’s French importer), covering 3,303.570km at an average speed of 137,647km/h to take victory in the hotly contested 1100cc class.
Perhaps even more surprisingly, just two months later, chassis ‘550-0048’ was piloted by Richard von Frankenberg to outright victory in the Production Sports Car race at the Swedish Grand Prix, beating much bigger Jaguars and Maseratis. In January 1956 it was tested by Road and Track magazine, now uprated to 1500cc four cam power, possibly competing again in that year’s Mille Miglia before entering private ownership.
For the past four decades this historic Porsche has been rarely seen in public, spending the last 20 years in the hands of a reclusive collector who has now instructed Kidston SA of Geneva to offer it for sale together with an equally successful Porsche 904. If racing red Ferraris are no longer exclusive enough for you, here’s Simon Kidston’s e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Text: Classic Driver Photos: Kidston SA / Ludvigsen Archive image
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