The 550 Spyder was introduced to the world at the Paris Auto Show in 1953 and marked history as being Porsche’s first proper race car which would later put the brand on the map. Born a racer, it had all the ingredients to make it a formidable adversary on track, so much so that it was nicknamed the „Giant Killer“ in reference to its ability to defeat much more powerful rivals. The 550 sported an all aluminium 1,498 cc naturally aspirated air-cooled 4 cylinder boxer engine known as the „Fuhrmann Engine“ that developed 110 PS, and was so low to the ground that former German Formula One racer Hans Hermann drove it under closed railroad crossing gates during the 1954 Mille Miglia.
Porsche 550 Spyder chassis #550-0089 is the second to last 550 production car and one of 32 examples built in 1956. It was specifically built for John von Neumann, who at the time owned Competition Motors, a Californian Porsche dealership and Racing team. The race car had several unique factory modifications, such as a large oval chrome grill positioned at the rear plus two scoop vents on the top of the engine bay and louvered vents along the rear fenders to help cool the engine. The spyder had the reinforced ‘high frame’ designed chassis and was completed on the 28th of June 1956 with engine #90094 (type 547-03) and transmission #10091. The body was built by coachbuilder Wendler and painted silver with red darts.
Von Neumann, who had a significant role in introducing Porsche in California and building up the brand’s reputation in the USA, believed in the motto „Race on Sunday, sell on Monday“. Legendary racing drivers, such as Ken Miles, Phil Hill, Jack McAfee and Paul Richard „Richie“ Ginther all successfully raced John’s different cars. The later would pilot #550-0089 with start number 211 at Pomona in October 1956 where he was involved in an accident and did not finish. The small damage was then repaired and the car was back on track two weeks later at Palm Springs where it placed 3rd. „Richie“’s final race with the 550 Spyder was at the Cotati Rose Festival in May of 1957 where he achieved fourth in class.
Our car would later start a new and successful chapter at the hands of racing driver Jack West, where it took part in no less than 20 races in 1957 and 1958. With start number 141, West would score 2nd in class at Hourglass Field in San Diego (BM-EM) in 1957, 1st in class at Tracy Sports Car Races (FM, Unlimited) in 1958, 3rd at Laguna Seca Sports Car Races in 1958 and 1st in class at Minden Gardnerville Airport Race in October of 1958, which would be his last race at the wheel of #550-0089. Katherine „Sunnie“ Baker would then take our very car to victory at the Phoenix SCCA Ladies race in November 1958. An extensive overview of the racing history of this particular Spyder can be found at bottom of the page.
Chassis #550-0089 was supposedly owned by legendary racing driver Ken Miles at one point. It would then change hands a few times and eventually find its way in the well-known Netherlands based Porsche collection of Albert Westerman (State of Art), who used the car at historic events such as the Mille Miglia in 2009. The car would then be owned by a German collector before finding its way to our showroom.
Today, our 550 Spyder still retains its original transmission #10091 and is powered by a 356 Carrera engine with Spyder specification (type 547/1) #90089. This piece of Porsche history is elligible for vintage tours and rallies, including big names such as the Mille Miglia, Tour Auto, Le Mans Classic and Goodwood Revival. A rare opportunity to own a scarce original example of the 550 Spyder with extensive period racing history.
Pomona Road Races, LA County Fairgrounds 1956
Race 12, Richie Ginther, DNF
Race 7, Richie Ginther, 2/2
Palm Springs, SCCA National 1956
Richie Ginther, 3/3
Cotati Rose Festival 1957
Race 10, Richie Ginther, 4th
Pomona LA County Fairgrounds 1957
Jack West, —
Hourglass Field San Diego 1957
BM-EM, Jack West, 7/2
FM-HM, Jack West, 5/3
Preliminary, Jack West, 7/4
Stockton Sports Car Races, Pacific Championship (Round 3) 1958
Race 4, Jack West, 12/5
Race 8, Chick Leson, 6/5
Palm Springs Road Race, Pacific Championship (Round 4) 1958
Jack West, 19/10
Tracy Sports Car Races, Pacific Championship (Round 5) 1958
Race 11, Jack West, 7/3
Race 3, Jack West, 1/1
Race 8, Jack West, 3/3
Laguna Seca Sports Car Races, Pacific Championship (Round 8) 1958
Saturday Race 3, Jack West, —
Sunday Race 9, Jack West, 3/3
Vaca Valley Road Races, Pacific Coast Championship (Round 10) 1958
CM-EM, Jack West, 9/6
FM-HM, Jack West, 3/3
Minden GP Nevada, Pacific Coast Championship (Round 11) 1958
BM-EM, Jack West, 7/2
FM-HM, Jack West, 3/3
Vaca Valley SCCA National Sports Car Championship (Round 14) 1958
Jack West, –/3
Minden Gardnerville Airport Race 1958
BM-EM, Jack West, 10/1
FM-HM, Jack West, 2/2
S1.5, Jack West, 4/3
Pomona Road Races, 6h Pomona 1958
Women’s Race, Katherine „Sunnie“ Baker, 4/3
Phoenix SCCA 1958
Ladies, Katherine „Sunnie“ Baker, 1/1