The four-speed transaxle from the Porsche 550 Spyder that James Dean had a fatal crash in has just been auctioned for a total of $382,000.
James Dean’s beloved and “cursed” Porsche 550 Spyder was completely ruined during his unfortunate crash that led to fatal injuries, and most parts were scrapped after the movie stars’ fatal crash. However, one of the few standing parts is its 4-speed transaxle which has just been recently auctioned off. The transaxle is the only documented and known part whose locations are still publicly known. James Dean died after colliding with another vehicle at an intersection in Cholame, California, on Sept. 30, 1955, while on his way to compete with his Porsche 550 Spyder in a race in Salinas.
Nicknamed the “Little bastard” from Dean himself, the car part was sold at an online auction on Saturday, May 29th, of the year 2021. Numerous so-called “cursed” parts from James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder have been auctioned off and sold over the past few years, and the four-speed transaxle is the most recent part that was sold.
Photo Credit: Odd Cars Weekley
This specific four-speed transaxle has been sold multiple and countless times over the years and has spent a few decades in storage before it was discovered last year by Don Ahearn. Recently, it was back on the market for auction, and it has just been sold for a total whopping $382,000. It was sold at an online auction, a very eerie piece of history. A transaxle is a smaller more compact version of the transmission that includes the functions of a transmission, axle, and differential as well.
James Dean would race his Porsche 550 Spyder nicknamed “Little Bastard” across the states, and due to its massive power to weight ratio, the light, agile, nimble car integrated with its 1.5L air-cooled flat-4 was able to capture numerous victories. Unfortunately, James Dean faced a head-on collision alongside his mechanic Rolf Wütherichhe when they were driving and heading towards a race from Los Angeles to Salinas when Dean collided with a Ford Tudor being driven by Donald Turnupseed at an intersection.
James Dean’s Porsche 550 Trans Axle
Turnupseed suffered mild injuries but James Dean and his passenger Wütherich suffered very serious injuries in the horrific crash. Both of them were brought to a local hospital, but sadly James Dean died on his way to the Hospital. Dr. William F. Eschrich pulled and found the remaining standing parts of the car, which included this transaxle. The crumpled up and damaged chassis and body was reportedly stolen in 1960 and has not been seen since Dean’s crash. Eschrich sold the rest of the remaining car to a well-known car customizer, George Barris, who loaned and lend the car to the National Safety Council where it would go on displays and tours across the United States of America between the years of 1957 and 1959.
The rare transaxle displays a split magnesium case purposely designed to house four forward gears, reverse, and a differential as well. It also includes a hydraulically activated clutch release lever, aluminum drum brake assemblies, swing-axle tubes, ad a starter motor. An interesting and eerie piece of history that transaxle is…