If You Wanna Know About The Mystery Surrounding James Dean’s Car This Is Where You Do It!
For those who do not believe in curses, this might change your perspective on the matter. For decades before, and after, his death, James dean has been in the limelight either for his famous onscreen performances or for his infamous car Little Bastard. Born on Feb 8th 1931, James Byron Dean rose to be a celebrated American actor. Dean bounced to fame with just three roles, two of which he played as the lead, namely, “Rebel without a cause” and “East of Eden” and was the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination, but it is his passion for motorsport that carried his legacy even after his death. Little did he know that his Porsche Spyder, which he later named “Little Bastard” would lead the way to his end and many others to follow.
The 550 Porsche Spyder, fibreglass panels on custom chassis, Powered by VW, Porsche or Alfa Romeo flat-4 engine was got by Dean after he traded his 356 Porsche Super Speedster for the Salinas Road race event, his first after the movie Giant, in which during shooting he was barred from racing by Warner Brothers. Dean then named his car ‘Little Bastard” which he himself was referred to by a few of his friends and got it painted on the car with the number 130.
Being an ardent fan of motor racing he was registered for the Salinas Road race however, Porsche factory trained mechanic, Rolf Wutherich, advised Dean to take it on a drive as the car had not had enough “break in” miles before the race. Dean agreed and they drove towards the event with Wutherich by his side and his friend and stuntman Bill Hickman in a Ford Station Wagon behind them. On the way on both cars were stopped and issued speeding tickets. Carefully planning their route to maintain their speed, when Dean reached the junction of the route 466 and route 41, Dean’s car collided with an oncoming car, a speeding Ford Tudor. The heavier Ford Tudor slid 39 feet because of the impact while Dean’s car flipped into the air. The car was mangled and Dean suffered a fractured neck and broken backbone. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
But that was not the end of the story of that car. This is where things get very interesting and rather spooky.
After this accident, George Barris, a car designer, bought the car to sell it as parts, on entering the garage, the engine slipped and broke the legs of one of his mechanics which then made him have ill- feelings about the car.
Rudolf Karl Wütherich, Dean’s mechanic had been in the car with him during the fatal crash. He survived the accident and went on to join the Porsche rally team. All seemed to be going well till one day when he got into an accident in his own car. He had been drinking.
James Dean car6: Image Source http://www.mythicjourneys.org/newsletter_may07_ebert.html
On October 26th 1956, Physician Troy McHenry bought the engine of the car which he bought from Barris. His first try at the Ponama Fair grounds resulted in his death after spinning out of control and hitting a tree, strangely enough his friend William Eschrid at the same race used the transmission of Dean’s car and while the race progressed William’s car just locked up while taking a curve , flipping the car over. Eschrid survived but with serious injuries.
A New Yorker then bought the tires of the car after Barris reluctantly sold them to him, which also resulted in a crash after the tires blew up simultaneously.
A kid who tried to steal the steering wheel of the car slipped and gashed his arm.
Barris then thought he would put the car to good use by loaning it to the Californian Highway Patrol to increase the awareness of road safety, strangely, a week later, the garage which hosted this evil car burned to the ground. The weird part was that every vehicle around it was in ashes except for the evil Porsche Spyder.
It was then Shifted to a Sacremento exhibition where it slipped and broke a teenagers hip.
Later in route to Salinas a truck driver, George Barhius, transporting the Porsche lost control of his truck and was thrown free of the cab only to die when “Little Bastard” fell off the flat bed and crushed him to death.
The mishaps and accident toll of the car continued till 1960, where the car on display in Florida split into 11 pieces. The car was ordered to come back to Los Angeles by Barris. The truck carrying the car reached and when the opened the back the car was missing. An offer of 1 million was given out to anyone who would return the parts of this evil car. Apparently a few parts are with the relatives of Dean and recently a part was sold on E-Bay. But the authenticity of the parts are yet to be proved.
Although Dean was told that he would be killed within a week of getting into the Porsche Spyder (casual statement), that did not stop him from trying it out, what is more interesting was that Dean’s first choice car was a Lotus Mk10 which he had to have shipped from overseas. Since he was really eager to get on the track and did not have the time till the car arrived, Dean instead chose the Porsche Spyder 550. Apparently the Lotus came with disc brakes and the makers of the car were a little reluctant to send the car as is because they felt that the technology might be stolen and used in American cars.
Would a different car have changed the fate of James Dean and the rest that followed?? Who knows, but the Porsche Spyder 550 goes onto the list of the most evil cars, and in Dean’s words, still remains, the “Little Bastard”.