Bonhams is auctioning off a Porsche 550 that raced and then belonged to a collector for half a century.
The 550 Spyder, which has been in production since 1953, was Porsche's first real racing car. Even with full street equipment and a hardtop, it weighs only 550 kilograms. Its complex 1.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine, equipped with four overhead camshafts driven by vertical shafts, can easily cope with this low weight. The 550 Spyder was feared early on as a giant killer because it was superior to opponents equipped with much larger engines in races. This makes the Porsche 550 Spyder one of the most important models from the Zuffenhausen brand – and one of the most important in the history of racing cars. A very special 550 Spyder is now up for sale at US auction house Bonhams.
Racing driver as the first buyer
Porsche had the 550 Spyder in the auction with the chassis number 550-0036 manufactured by the Reutlingen-based coachbuilder Wendler in 1955 - all 550 Spyders were built there from 1955 onwards. That same year, three of the cars finished first, second and third in their class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first buyer of the auction Spyder was the German racing driver Theo Helfrich from Frankfurt am Main, who used the racer in races at the Hockenheimring, the Avus and the Nürburgring, among others.
In a collection for 50 years
In 1959, a member of the US American armed forces bought the 550 Spyder. Two years after it was bought, this Spyder also went across the pond to America - this is how many sports cars made their way to the USA at the time. There, the car drove many SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) races in the upper Midwest, including at the Road America race track in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, USA. In 1972 the 550 Spyder went to Florida where Dr. Gary Quast added to his car collection.
The 550 Spyder belonged to Quast for 50 years. He had it meticulously restored for over five years by Porsche specialists Willison Werkstatt (that's what the company is called in English) in Lake Park Florida. Under the boot lid is the original Fuhrmann engine of type 547 (number 90-035), which Billy Doyle, who died in 2017, still processed - Doyle was considered a four-camshaft engine guru in the USA. The original gearbox (number 10027) is also still fitted. The entire Porsche 550 Spyder is said to be in excellent condition. It has only covered 100 miles (161 kilometers) since its restoration.
Millions of euros expensive
The experts at Bonhams only give an estimate of the price of the Porsche 550 Spyder when seriously interested buyers ask. Nobody needs to hope for a bargain with the car: 550 Spyders are now selling for more than 5.5 million euros - the example now being offered could therefore be one of the more expensive auction cars of the still fresh year 2022.
The 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder is part of Bonhams hosted Amelia Island Auction taking place on March 3, 2022 at Fernandina Beach Golf Club.
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Porsche 550 Spyders don't often end up at auction, and the example up for auction now certainly doesn't: it was part of a collection for 50 years. Specialists meticulously restored the German sports car over a period of five years – now it is said to be in excellent condition.
A 1955 550 Spyder in top condition that has been the property of a collector for the past 50 years should not be cheap: a price of the equivalent of more than 5.5 million euros would not be a surprise.