04 October, 2016
A Porsche racing car described by its auctioneer as being in a “time-warp” condition has been sold for a record-breaking £4.6 million.
The 1956 Porsche 550RS Spyder has not been restored and is in its original condition – exactly as it would have looked decades ago.
The car was sold at the Bonhams Goodwood Revival Auction, and although the auction price is record-breaking, it actually fell short of its estimate of £4.7-£6.2m.
Unlike many 550 Spyders, chassis 0090 (one of only 90 built between 1953 and 1956) has never been raced, leading auctioneers to describe it as the only one of its kind to be left in original condition.
While the vehicle might not be in as perfect condition as a restored 550, the car’s original features are part of the appeal for a classic car collector.
The motor is similar to the one in which James Dean died while driving in 1955.
The first owner is thought to be an American television executive, Willet H Brown, who ordered the car equipped for road rather than track use, but drove it just 634 miles before selling.
Several owners later it moved on to Richard A Barbour, who paid $4,500 for the car in 1981, and lastly to George Reilly, a classic car collector.
The stunning 550 was launched at the 1953 Paris motor show and was Porsche’s first dedicated competition car. The two-seater followed on from Porsche’s 356 road car and was powered by a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, air-cooled engine.
However, the 550 was a much smaller and lighter car than the 356 as it comes in at less than 600kg. It is wrapped in lightweight aluminium body panels, meaning it could accelerate from 0-62mph in less than 10 seconds and reach a top speed of more than 130mph.