Monday, June 11, 2007
The Porsche 550
The Porsche 550 was a sports car produced by Porsche during the 1950s.
Inspired by a small Porsche 356 Spyder which was created and raced by Walter Glöckler in 1951, the factory decided to build such a car, being the first designed specifically for use in auto racing.
The 550 became known as Spyder or RS. It Porsche its first overall win in a major sports car racing event, the 1956 Targa Florio.
Its successor from 1957 onwards, the Porsche 718, was even more successful, scoring points in Formula One as late as 1963.
The 550 is among the most frequently reproduced classic automobiles, like the Shelby Cobra and Lotus Seven. Several companies have sprung up in the last 25 years, some of which build near-exact replicas from the ground up, including spaceframes built to exacting specs from Porsche blueprints. Some of the companies that make replicas are Boulder Speedster, Chuck Beck Motorsports, Chamonix do Brasil, Thunder Ranch, and Vintage Spyders.
The 550 is so low that Hans Herrmann drove under closed railroad crossing gates during the 1954 Mille Miglia.
With Herrmann's maneuver becoming famous in the 1950s, the 550 is said to have been used for helping persons to escape from former East Germany in similar style (not very effective with only one passenger, though).
This was the car that James Dean was driving when he crashed and was killed.
The modern Porsche Boxster is considered by some to be a descendant of the Porsche 550.
Porsche effectively resurrected the Spyder name with the RS Spyder Le Mans Prototype.
This car can be found in Microsoft's Project Gotham Racing 2, Forza Motorsport, and Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed. Also, it can be seen in the Sin City film.
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