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Among the greatest of early Porsche race cars, a rare 1958 550A Spyder will be offered at Mecum’s annual Monterey, California, auction held August 23-25.
The 550A is one of just 39 built, powered by the iconic Carrera 4-cam boxer engine, and a three-time European race winner during its first season. Now a polished gem, the Porsche will be presented at auction in meticulously restored condition, according to a Mecum news release.
The Porsche 550A Spyder was an evolution of the Stuttgart automaker’s first purpose-built race car, the 550, which stunned the racing world by its consistent domination of competitors with much greater engine displacement and racing history. A 550 won its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955 and took an overall victory at the 1956 Targa Florio.
The 550A incorporated a number of significant improvements, including a tubular space frame instead of a ladder frame to increase structural rigidity, a transmission with five speeds instead of four, and 15-inch wheels instead of 16s, which lowered the center of gravity and widened the contact-patch area.
The auction car is one of the last 550A Spiders constructed. Chassis No. 0141 won a number of podium finishes during its first year of racing driven by Ernst Vogel, who notably was also a professional composer of music and a concert pianist. Vogel drove 550A-0141 to an overall win at the 1958 grand prix of Circuit Opatija, Yugoslavia, and was first in class in two major races held in Austria in 1958.
After that racing year, the Spyder was refurbished by the factory and brought to the U.S., where it was sold in Connecticut to road-racer Harry Blanchard, who competed with it in SCCA regional events. It then went through a number of owners before being sidelined.
“The current caretaker, Steve Terrien, of Issaquah, Washington, located the car in a warehouse in 1984,” Mecum says in a news release. “Throughout the next 30 years, the car underwent a fanatical comprehensive restoration that was done to exacting standards.”
The car was completely disassembled and refurbished by Porsche experts, Mecum says in the catalog description, including rebuilding the intricate 1,500cc Carrera engine and redoing the entire body.
“The body was treated to fresh aluminum skin with close attention paid to authenticity,” the description reads. “Terrien was fortunate to locate a sister car – Serial No. 550A-0135, one that proved to be a benchmark of originality – from which a wooden buck was constructed and used as a reference point to accurately duplicate the complex compound curves of the Erwin Komenda-designed body.
“The sister car was also used to validate myriad details such as wire color coding, switch placement, attachment methods, hinge design and windshield angle. Expertly executed by the renowned Kimmins brothers out of Lake Havasu City, Arizona – who are widely regarded as world-class metalcraft artisans – the 550A-0141 Spyder is presented in stunning polished bare aluminum.”
The Porsche has been driven fewer than 600 miles since its completion and stands “in near-flawless condition,” Mecum says. “There is no question this is one stunning jewel of a car.”
No estimated value is given by Mecum for the 550A Spyder, although multiple-seven-figure bids are expected. The buyer would then have the choice of putting the Porsche back on the track for vintage racing events or showing it in top-level concours d’elegance.
The Mecum auction is held during Monterey’s busy car week of auctions, shows and events culminating in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. For more information, visit the auction website.