The Porsche 550 Silver Spyder and James Dean. The car the actor died in was also known as ‘The Little Bastard’. James Dean had it lettered on to the back of the car along with the 130 on the front before that fateful day, not well known it was rumored that ‘Little Bastard’ was a nickname given to Dean by a Warner Brothers movie executive, not the Porsche Spyder, but the ‘Little Bastard’ it became.
Two strange occurrences happened even before the crash that went down into popular culture forever. James Dean filmed a road safety ad while filming ‘Giant’, saying in the ad ‘The Life You Might Save Might Be Mine’. Prophetic perhaps, but not as much as what Sir Alec Guinness the famous Hollywood actor who played Obi Wan in Star Wars later, is supposed to have said to the fated James Dean a week before his death. Sir Alec had met Dean somewhere with the silver Spyder, turning to James Dean he had said, ‘Next Thursday you’ll be dead if you get into that car’.
So James Dean was due to race ‘The Little Bastard’ at the Selinas Races, deciding to drive there himself for the practice and run the machine in. He came to the end of Route 46 in a blur of speed to T intersection and collided with a 1954 Custom Coupe driven by Donald Turnupseed. The silver porsche hit sideways was ejected violently into the air by the Coupe, spinning several times. A mess of twisted metal at the end, breaking Deans neck and causing vast internal bleeding, where he died on the way to hospital.
Many people believe this sports car built for speed not only killed James Dean but that its salvaged parts after the crash were cursed too. That perhaps the bad luck carried on in the crushed silver death machine, to wreak havoc on more victims.
A custom car maker named George Barris bought this wreck for around $22,000 and proceeded to sell of the bits that were salvageable, which were not that many. ‘The ‘Little Bastards’ four cam motor was sold to a Dr William Eschrich, a part time racer, and another doctor called McHenry borrowed ‘The Little Bastards’ trans axle from Dr Eschrich for his own Porsche Spyder. Another Spyder, well well.
More events to make you wonder, Dr Eschrich transplanted ‘The Little Bastards’ motor into his Lotus and raced it at Pomona. During the race for no reason explainable, the car locked up on a corner and rolled several times, injuring the Doctor badly. His friend Dr McHenry who had a Porsche Spyder died hitting a tree running on the ‘Little Bastards’ trans axle.
A weird chain of events, leading up to the crash,and after. A cursed car, maybe, maybe not. Or just pure bad luck, like picking the death card in Tarot. Perhaps they should have let the ‘Little Bastard’ be, just to rust away into Hollywood history.