August 30, 2005

Auto museum will pay US$1 million for James Dean’s car

Volo, Illinois – The Volo Auto Museum has offered US$1 million for the missing 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder that actor James Dean drove to his death on September 30, 1955. Most likely stolen, the car disappeared in 1958.

“Historically speaking, it is one of the most important cars of all time,” says Volo Auto Museum president Greg Grams. “It belongs in a museum.”

The museum is commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dean’s death with a temporary exhibit of artifacts from the fatal crash, including the passenger side door, the only part of the car known to exist. The items are on loan from custom auto designer George Barris, who originally customized the Porsche for Dean. Barris also built the customized 1949 Mercury that Dean drove in the movie “Rebel Without A Cause”.

Dean commissioned Barris to customize the Spyder, adding the number 130 on the hood and doors, and the nickname “Little Bastard” on the rear. Barris purchased the wreck after the crash and toured it nationally as part of a police safety demonstration. It disappeared shortly after an exhibit in Florida.

Prior to its disappearance, the car gained a reputation as a “ghost car” as several people involved in handling it died, were injured or involved in freak circumstances. Anyone with information on the Porsche can contact the museum at or call 815-385-3644.

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