The 550A Spyder Helped Build Porsche’s Racing Legacy. This Pristine Example Is Now Ready For Its Next Adventure
There have been many iconic racing Porsches over the years, yet to many the early 550 Spyders still remain the most desirable of them all. They may not have been the first models to be entered into a racing event by Porsche, that honor belongs to the 1951 356 Light Metal Coupe, but they were the first Porsches specifically designed for motor racing and they laid the groundwork for future racing cars while achieving some spectacular results in the process.
Perhaps the most impressive was when Umberto Maglioli took on and beat the mighty Ferraris and Maseratis at the 1956 Targa Florio in Sicily. He did it at the wheel of the updated 550A Spyder, Porsche’s first true competition model. It featured a new lightweight spaceframe chassis, fully independent suspension and a five-speed gearbox. Power too was up from 110hp to 135hp thanks to new Weber carbs and an increased compression ratio. The 1957 550A Spyder you see here is chassis number 0121 and the 15th of 40 cars built. It has enjoyed a colorful life including competing in numerous events both in Europe and Africa including the East African Safari Rally and the Mille Miglia.
It bears the distinction of being the only 550A to have been sold new to Denmark and has been through numerous owners, including being part of Italian collector Giuseppe Freschi’s fleet for 31 years. Its most recent owner acquired the car in 2012 and commissioned a specialist to return the vehicle to factory specification, a task that took four years to accomplish. Having inspected the car Porsche expert Jurgen Barth declared that, “550A-0121 is perfect in its original form, and all technical aspects are like it was in 1957.” It has completed a mere 100km (60 miles) in this pristine state and both the restoration and its earlier history are well documented. It will be one of the star cars at this year’s RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba Auction, which will be taking place on 25 May.
Images courtesy of RM Sotheby’s