Bonhams - One of the most important Porsche models ever produced will headline Bonhams Amelia Island Sale on March 3 in Florida, being offered after 50 years of ownership and displayed publicly for the first time since the early 2000s.
The Porsche 550 Spyder was a seminal model for the manufacturer, as its first genuine racing car design. Considered one of the most important racing cars in history, the 550 garnered success in the period’s most challenging international sports car and endurance races including the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race and the Mille Miglia. The 1500cc engined Spyder earned itself the ‘giant-killer’ soubriquet, as it claimed victory over larger-engined rivals.
The model introduced a semi-monocoque structure of a ladder steel tube frame stiffened by its sleekly aerodynamic lightweight aluminum body paneling. Power was derived from a complex four-cam 1500cc engine with an output of 110bhp. However, even with full road equipment, including hard top, early cars merely weighed around 550kg (1212 lbs.).
1955 was the year that the 550 claimed a 1-2-3 class victory at Le Mans, as well as placing fourth overall. It was also the year that the motor car offered was produced as chassis number 550-0036 in April.
From factory delivery, Spyder 0036 was raced by its first owner, famed German racing driver Theo Helfrich of Frankfurt. Helfrich was the 1953 Formula 2 Champion and Formula 1 veteran who also finished 2nd overall at the 1952 Le Mans 24 Hours. He campaigned the Spyder extensively in Europe, including at major German events at Hockenheim, Avus and the Nürburgring during the mid to late 1950s.
Like many German sportscars of the period, this 550 Spyder was acquired in 1959 by an American military man stationed in Germany, who brought it with him to the US two years later. The car raced in several SCCA and sports car events in the Upper Midwest, including Road America, until the mid-1960s. The Spyder then travelled to Florida where, in December 1972, it was acquired by the late notable collector, Dr. Gary Quast.
During his careful 50-year ownership of the Spyder, a meticulously accurate and factory correct five-year restoration was performed by Willison Werkstatt of Lake Park, Florida. The engine is fitted with a period-correct 547 unit, just a single digit from the original engine for the car (no. 90-035), rebuilt by legendary four-cam engine specialist Billy Doyle. It also retains its original gearbox (10027). Since its restoration, the Spyder has covered fewer than 100 miles and is presented in excellent condition.
The Bonhams Amelia Island Auction 2021, presenting a curated selection of motorcars, will be held as a traditional live auction at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club on Thursday, March 3, with bids accepted from clients in the room (respecting social distancing and all local COVID-related guidelines).
The sale will also be streamed and available on the Bonhams App, which provides registered bidders the opportunity to bid in real time online via Bonhams.com while watching the auctioneer and videos of cars on offer. Absentee and telephone bids are also encouraged.
Pre-sale viewing will take place at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club on March 2 and the morning of March 3, timings to be confirmed.
For further information or to discuss consigning your collector’s car, please contact:
Bonhams West Coast +1 (415) 480 9028
Bonhams East Coast +1 (917) 340 9652
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and luxury. The main salesrooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 53 specialist areas. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit bonhams.com
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