HomeCar CultureLifestyleVideo of the Day: James Dean and his cursed Porsche

Video of the Day: James Dean and his cursed Porsche

If you enjoyed the story of Lew Bracker and James Dean on Friday, you may find this eerie legend intriguing...


You read about the racing influence of James Dean on Lew Bracker. There was a second long tail to the James Dean legend. Many suggest the Porsche 550 Spyder he drove to his death was, in fact, cursed.

After Dean’s death, much of the car was parted out. A racer who replaced parts on his own 550 from Dean’s car was killed in a racing accident, another was badly injured. The car itself was taken on the road for a traveling roadshow by the DOT to promote safe driving — it injured a person to was unloading it at one of the stops — and then mysteriously disappeared.

This video tells the tale. It is a superstitious look at a tragedy that still reverberates in pop culture today.

Tom Stahler
Tom Stahler
Tom Stahler is the Managing Editor of the Journal. Tom has a lifelong love of cars and motor racing – beginning with the 1968 USRRC race at Road America, in a stroller, at eight months of age. His words, photos and broadcasts can can be found on a myriad of media. He has won the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and a Gold Medal in the International Automotive Media Awards.


  1. Tom Stahler…fact checking goes a long way….there is no curse…it was all concocted by George Barris. Most of his stories are completely false. Dr. Wm. Eschrich, a Burbank surgeon and Cal Club racer purchased the wrecked Porsche Spyder from All Auto Parts for 1,092.00 in November 1955. Dr. Eschrich put the Porsche 4-cam engine in his Lotus IX and raced it successfully during the 1956 season. At Pomona, on October 21, 1956, Dr. Eschrich in his “POTUS” was battling Richie Ginther nose-to-tail in John von Neumanns’ Porsche 550…they had a shunt — both cars were a DNF, and both drivers were uninjured. In that race, a close friend of Wm. Eschirich, Dr.Troy McHenry was killed when his Porsche 550 lost its steering and crashed into a tree. Contrary to what George Barris said, Dr. McHenry did not have any of the James Dean Porsche Spyder’s parts on his car when it crashed. See James Dean: On The Road To Salinas for the real facts surrounding James Dean’s Porsche Spyder’s fatal crash and post-events surrounding the “Little Bastard.”

    • I look forward to reading your book, Lee. That could put to bed a lot of speculation. However, I’m a sucker for folklore.

  2. IMHO, James Dean.s acting skills were mediocre. watched all 3 (?) movies he
    made and it was like a rerun of the one before. Angry, sulking, bruding, mixed with the occasional burst of laughter. Bogart..Gable..Joel McRae…Bacall….Ann Sothern…Laughten…Douglas…Lancaster and many more were real actors. Dean was a blip on the screen and his repitious scowling never would have lasted.

  3. IMHO James Dean was one of the finest actors on film. Lee Strasberg (JD acting coach to many stars including Brando) often commented on how extremely talented JD was. From Texas Oil man to challenged young man he could cover it all. He moved audiences world wide. Sorry you missed on this one.


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