The Porsche 550 Spyder Was a Giant Slayer That Revolutionized Motorsport – autoevolution

In 1948, Porsche presented its initial mass-produced design, the 356. It was the creation of Ferry Porsche that– much like his dad– was a skilled developer as well as designer. He was likewise the proprietor of a number of cars, however his fave was an exchangeable Volkswagen with a supercharged engine. As he mentioned in a 1972 meeting for Panorama publication: “if you had sufficient power in a tiny auto, it was better to drive than if you had a huge vehicle which was additionally subdued.” This was the ideology that brought to life the 356, along with its race-bred brother or sister, the legendary 550 Spyder.

In 1951, an amateur race vehicle driver by the name of Walter Glöckler collaborated with Ferry Porsche to thoroughly customize numerous 356 framework right into two-seat auto racing models. These vehicles revealed a great deal of pledge, so Porsche determined to begin a different task as well as create a totally brand-new equipment, a step regarded critical for enhancing the sales of the 356.

Slotted in between kind 549 – the firm’s inner classification for a vehicle transmission, as well as kind 551 – one more transmission layout, deal with the kind 550 job started in 1952. A year later on, the initial 2 models were ended up and also after being completely checked, they prepared to race.


They were constructed around a light-weight spaceframe framework covered with a curvy light weight aluminum body. Unlike the large bulk of producers, Porsche decided versus establishing a big variation engine and also rather selected to choose a tiny kind 502 1.5-liter pushrod fighter. For far better weight circulation, it was positioned in between the back axle as well as the traveler area, making it among the very first mid-engine racers of the period.

These very early models were developed as sports cars with detachable hardtops, an attribute focused on enhancing the rules of aerodynamics, but also for the 1953 period opener at Nürburgring, framework 550-01 would certainly take place to race without a roofing system, regardless of the hefty rainfall. Much to every person’s shock, it handled to win the 1,500 cc course with Helmut Glöckler (Walter’s relative) behind the wheel. The various other cars and truck (framework 550-02) made its launching at the 12-Heures d’Hyeres in France, a month later on. It stopped working to end up as a result of mechanical concerns, however it was fixed in time for the 24 Hours of Le Mans where it ended up initially in its course as well as 15th total.

Urged by these outcomes, Porsche remained to improve the layout and also would certainly take place to develop 13 extra models. While the initial 2 were powered by ethanol-burning kind 502 engines as well as featured bodies crafted by Frankfurt instructor contractors Weidenhausen, succeeding automobiles obtained the brand-new Ernst Fuhrmann-designed kind 547 quad-cam powerplant in addition to updated bodies, the majority of which were produced by a larger firm called Weinsberg. The detachable hardtops were deserted in order to lose weight as well as each device included one-of-a-kind functions, so none equaled.


In 1953, framework 550-03 as well as 550-04 went back to the popular Carrera Panamericana in Mexico, a race where both cars and trucks were incapable to end up a year previously, because of sustain pump concerns. This time around about, they were powered by the brand-new, extra reputable 117-hp 547 quad-cam engine which ran problem-free, allowing the 550 driven by Hans Herrmann to end up 3rd total and also initial in its course. Many thanks to this accomplishment, the performance-oriented 547 fighter came to be called the Carrera engine, as well as the 356 trims that were later on geared up with it were marketed under the very same nameplate.

The 550 Spyder models remained to be competed by the firm’s manufacturing facility groups in different competitors up until 1955. They accumulated course victories in basically every occasion they got in, confirming the prevalence of Porsche’s active as well as little style.

That year, the very first manufacturing variations were finished. With many improvements, these versions were utilized as manufacturing facility racecars yet were additionally offered to privateers. A year later on, an advanced variation called 550A was presented. With a lighter as well as stiffer framework, even more aerodynamically reliable bodies, as well as 135-hp engines mated to five-speed transmissions, they were a lot more leading and also among them offered Porsche its very first general win in a significant race, the 1956 Targa Florio. Driven by Umberto Maglioli, it took care of to beat larger, a lot more effective vehicles like the Ferrari 860 Monza, Maserati 300S, or the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. From this factor on, the 550 Spyder came to be called the Giant Killer.


Regretfully, not every one of its targets were larger, a lot more effective cars. A year prior to the Targa Florio success, fabulous Hollywood titan James Dean would certainly shed his life behind the wheel of a freshly gotten 550 Spyder he nicknamed Little Bastard.

It was a full-on racecar, this was the 1950s and also it can be signed up for roadway usage. Dean had plates on his 550 however prepared to tow it to an occasion. He altered his mind after a participant of his group recommended that he must drive there to damage the automobile in as well as get even more experience behind the wheel. While speeding up on Route 466 in California, he wound up hitting an enormous 1950 Ford Tudor at the joint with Route 41. The influence pushed the little, aluminum-bodied Porsche right into the air, turning it several times. Dean was hurried to the medical facility a couple of mins later on, however was obvious dead on arrival.


In spite of this unfavorable occasion, the 550 Spyder will certainly be born in mind as one of one of the most innovative racecar layouts in background. It won its course in practically every competitors it revealed the globe and also got in that a tiny, light-weight layout can be exceptionally effective, also if it had not been powered by a large engine with the ability of providing thousands of equines.

It changed Porsche right into a home name amongst automobile fanatics and also laid the structure for the firm’s future motorsport endeavors.

Just 90 systems were developed from 1953 to 1956, and also a lot of them have actually endured. They are very collectible and also hardly ever adjustment proprietors, however some systems have actually been auctioned off over the last few years. One instance is a 550A that was offered in 2018 at an RM Sotheby’s occasion, bring no much less than $4.9 million.

Many thanks to YouTube individual 67merlin1, you can jump aboard a 550 Spyder for an impressive lap around the Nürburgring Nordschleife.


He was likewise the proprietor of a number of sporting activities automobiles, however his fave was an exchangeable Volkswagen with a supercharged engine. The various other cars and truck (framework 550-02) made its launching at the 12-Heures d’Hyeres in France, a month later on. While the initial 2 were powered by ethanol-burning kind 502 engines and also came with bodies crafted by Frankfurt train building contractors Weidenhausen, succeeding autos obtained the brand-new Ernst Fuhrmann-designed kind 547 quad-cam powerplant as well as updated bodies, many of which were produced by a larger firm called Weinsberg. In 1953, framework 550-03 as well as 550-04 returned to the distinguished Carrera Panamericana in Mexico, a race where both autos were incapable to end up a year previously, due to sustain pump concerns. Driven by Umberto Maglioli, it handled to top larger, extra effective cars and trucks like the Ferrari 860 Monza, Maserati 300S, or the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.

Source: https://www.autoevolution.com/news/the-porsche-550-spyder-was-a-giant-slayer-that-revolutionized-motorsport-178592.html

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