Transaxle from James Dean’s ‘cursed’ 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder that he crashed and died in sells for $382,000 at auction

  • The 4-Speed transaxle from the 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder that James Dean crashed in was sold at auction for $382,000 on Saturday
  • The car part was sold at an online auction on Saturday and was part of the vehicle that was in Dean’s fatal accident in September of 1955
  • The 24-year-old star of the classic ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ died in a head on collision while driving his Porsche nicknamed ‘Li’l Bastard’ in California
  • Parts of the car, which have been called ‘cursed’ for decades, have been sold off over the years
  • The transaxle has been sold multiple times over the years and spent a few decades in storage before it was discovered last year by Don Ahearn

The 4-Speed transaxle from the 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder that James Dean crashed and died in has been sold at auction for $382,000.

The car part was sold at an online auction on Saturday and was part of the vehicle that Dean was driving during an accident that took the movie star’s life in September of 1955. 

A transaxle is a smaller version of the transmission found in cars that combines the functions of a transmission, axle, and differential.

The 24-year-old star of the classic ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ died in a head on collision while driving his Porsche nicknamed ‘Li’l Bastard’ alongside his mechanic Rolf Wütherich. 

The pair were driving the car from Los Angeles to Salinas for a car race when Dean collided with a Ford Tudor being driven by Donald Turnupseed at an intersection in Cholame.  

The 4-Speed transaxle from the 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder that James Dean fatally crashed in was sold on auction for $382,000

Movie star James Dean (pictured) died in a head on collision while driving his Porsche nicknamed ‘Li’l Bastard’ in 1955

Turnupseed suffered mild injuries but Dean and his passenger Wütherich suffered serious injuries in the crash. 

Both were transported to a local hospital and Dean would die on way.

Parts of the car, which have been called ‘cursed’ for decades, have been sold off over the years. 

Following the fatal crash, Dean’s insurance company wrote off the Porsche and sold it to another racer, Dr. William F. Eschrich, for $1,092, Fox News reported. 

Eschrich pulled the remaining useable parts off of the car, including the transaxle, and sold the rest of it to famed car customizer George Barris, who loaned the car to the National Safety Council where it would go on tours across the U.S. between 1957 and 1959.

Eschrich installed the Porsche’s engine into another race car and loaned other parts of the car to racer Troy McHenry.

Dean was driving the car from Los Angeles to Salinas for a car race when he collided with a Ford Tudor being driven by Donald Turnupseed at an intersection in Cholame (car pictured)

Parts of the car, which have been called ‘cursed’ for decades, have been sold off over the years 

Both cars crashed in the same race in 1956, with one crash taking McHenry’s life, feeding into the myth that Dean’s Porsche was ‘cursed’.

The transaxle has been sold multiple times over the years and spent a few decades in storage before it was discovered last year by Porsche restorer Don Ahearn, Fox News reported.  

Since it’s acquisition in March 2020, the transaxle has been installed on a steel display stand that rolls on casters, the listing on bringatrailer.com said.  

The transaxle features a split magnesium case designed to house four forward gears and reverse as well as a differential, the listing said. 

The display also features a hydraulically-activated clutch release lever, swing-axle tubes, aluminum drum brake assemblies, and a starter motor.

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