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1958 Porsche 550a Spyder

1958 Porsche 550a Spyder

The little German giant killer

The Porsche 550 is a true icon of Porsche history. Known as both a race car and a sports car, the 550 was the kind of machine you could drive to the track, take the win, then drive back home. The famous British-American racing driver Ken Miles called it the “greatest long-distance racer in the world,” and despite its low power figures, this plucky little two-door could take down cars with far more power and straight-line speed. Eventually evolving into the even-quicker 550a, the 550 is now widely recognized as one of the more desirable collectible Porsches in the world.

Continue reading to learn more about the Porsche 550a Spyder.

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1955 - 1956 Porsche 550 Spyder

1955 - 1956 Porsche 550 Spyder

The Porsche 550 Spyder is about as classic and iconic as it gets, even for the storied Porsche brand. The lightweight roadster came from inspiration of the Porsche 356, but minus the hard roof. Porsche needed a race car to compete in the roadster class, and that’s just what the 550 Spyder did. In fact, the third 550 prototype and first 550 to race won its first event at the famed Nürburgring Eifel Race in 1953. Following that victory, the 550 went on to claim 95 victories and 75 class wins over a total of 370 races.

Winning wasn’t the only thing the 550 Spyder was known for. It was his newfound love of racing that spurred actor James Dean to purchase an example. Sadly, the actor and his still-new 550 were both fatally injured when a car pulled out in front of Dean as he drove down a California highway.

Nevertheless, the 550 Spyder enjoyed a storied career, with 90 examples being built. Of those 90 cars, 43 of them were built as non-race, “customer cars.” Both Dean’s and the blue example seen here are within that allotment. If fact, the chassis numbers are only separated by five digits, with Dean’s car wearing plate number 550-055 while the other wears plate number 550-060. The latter was owned by avid Porsche collector Jerry Seinfeld until March 2016.

Updated 03/14/2016: Jerry Seinfeld managed to get an amazing $5.35 million at a Gooding & Company auction for his 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder.

Note: Images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company

Continue reading to learn more about the Porsche 550 Spyder.

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2016 Porsche 718

2016 Porsche 718

Note: Porsche 550 rendered here.

The rumors about Porsche’s baby-Boxster roadster are swirling up again with new reports coming out of Germany. This time, the news suggests the new car will surface for the 2016 model year and sport two versions of a flat-four engine. Dubbed the 718, this rumored roadster will slot under the Boxster in terms of price, horsepower, and weight, while still offering plenty of go-fast performance for buyers looking to spend less than the Boxster’s $63,000 asking price.

The report from Focus pins the 718’s two four-cylinders as displacing 2.0- and 2.5-liters with horsepower outputs of 282 and 355, respectively. Porsche will combine these engines with a DSG gearbox and manual transmissions that will drive the rear wheels. The combination of a lighter, mid-mounted, four-cylinder engine and a lighter chassis means the 718 will surely be a hot performer.

Rumors also claim that Porsche engineers are using a modified Boxster platform with a reduction in mass coming from extensive uses of aluminum. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the new Roadster also use lots of carbon fiber, as the cost of CF production keeps falling and becomes more pervasive in the industry.

Though the official word isn’t out yet, experts say the car will cost roughly $53,000 — a solid $10K less than the base Boxster. That said, the 718’s upper trim level, which includes the 355-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder, will probably only undercut the Boxster by a few thousand. Either way, we appear to be getting a more pure drop-top from Stuttgart by 2016.

Click past the jump to read more about the Porsche 718.

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2013 Vintech P550 Tribute

2013 Vintech P550 Tribute

The Porsche 550 saw production from 1953 through 1956 as both a spyder and a coupe model. Both models saw use primarily in racing, but they also saw limited sale in the public. The most famous 550 was James Deans’ “Little Bastard,” which ended up being the car that he was killed in.

Despite its somber history, the 550 is one of the most desired Porsches, garnering upwards of $3.7 million for the 550-01 – the first 550 built. Well, not every car buff has multiple millions of dollars, but just about every one wants to get his or her hands on the 550-01. Vintech has solved this quandary by releasing its P550 Tribute – “P550” standing for “Porsche 550,” of course.

Many tribute cars end up being complete failures and do more damage than good, and the 550 is one tough car to mimic. So how does Vintech’s version stack up?

Click past the jump to find out.

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2014 Porsche 550

2014 Porsche 550

Volkswagen’s predicted domination of the automotive world just launched its next attack with three production versions of the Volkswagen Bluesport concept. According to Volkswagen, the BlueSport will see three different levels of performance illustrated in three different badges: Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche. It can go without saying that the Porsche model will be the most powerful and, up until now, it was just known as the "baby Boxster." Well, that baby Boxster has finally been named. Say hello to the future Porsche 550.

The "550" name was first used in 1953 when Porsche unveiled a sports car inspired by the legendary 356. At that time, the 550 was not considered a successor for the 356, but Porsche’s future 550 will more than likely carry that title. The new 550 will be the first model to be built on Porsche’s new sports car architecture and will be offered with a mid-mounted, turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that will deliver around 200 HP. This engine will be mated to a dual-clutch seven speed transmission.

The future 550 will be launched in 2014 and, on the European market, will be priced about €8,000 ($11,500 at the current exchange rates) less than the current Boxster. That difference accounts for about 20% of the current Boxster’s price tag, which means our fellow Americans will have to pay about $38,000 to purchase it.

UPDATE 09/30/2011: British magazine CAR reports that the upcoming Porsche 550 will feature a new trademark horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine developing a total of 210 HP and 215 lb-ft of torque. If Porsche decides to create a more powerful version for the 550, that would mean it will use a 2.5 liter flat four turbo engine that delivers a total of 360 HP and 350 lb-ft.

Stay tuned for more details on the 2014 Porsche 550.

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