The 55-year long hunt for the Porsche 550 Spyder that actor James Dean famously died in might finally be over.
24-year old Dean died on his way to a race in Salinas, California, on September 30th, 1955. His tiny 550 Spyder — which he had nicknamed Little Bastard — collided head-on with a much larger Ford Tudor that turned left right in front him at an intersection.
The totaled 550 was sold for parts and, after bits and pieces of it were fitted to other Porsches, it eventually wound up in the hands of George Barris, a world-renown customizer and builder whose work includes the 1960s Batmobile. When Barris ultimately decided not to rebuild the car, he loaned it to the National Safety Council so that it could be used to raise motorists’ awareness about highway safety. The 550 was often displayed next to a sign that read “this accident could have been avoided …”
The 550 mysteriously went missing in 1960 while it was being transported from Miami, Florida, to Los Angeles, California. Since then, many have claimed to know what happened to it but none of the reports and rumors have materialized.
In 2005, the Volo Auto Museum located on the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois, publicly offered to buy the car for $1 million. The museum got its first promising tip last spring when a man called to say he knows exactly where the car is located because he was present when it was stashed away.
If his story is to be believed, the caller was six-years old when he saw his father and a few other men hide the 550 behind a fake wall in a building in Whatcom County, Washington. Museum officials say the story is credible because the man provided details that only an eyewitness would know, and because he passed a polygraph test.
The man — whose name hasn’t been released — isn’t providing the exact location of the building until he has signed a deal with the museum. However, officials say they won’t pay until they’re certain they can legally acquire the car. Talks between the two parties are on-going, and the museum hopes to resolve the situation and bring the 550 out in the open for the first time in over half a century in the near future.