A unique piece of automotive history was recently sold via the auction website Bring a Trailer, namely the four-speed manual transaxle from the Porsche 550 Spyder that killed James Dean on September 30, 1955.
The winning bid—wait for it—was $382,000 USD, which is the equivalent of $462,000 CAD at the current exchange rate. It’s yet another measure of the legendary status of the American actor, who died at the age of just 24.
Following the tragic highway crash that took place in California, the wrecked car was reportedly sold by the insurance company to another Southern California racer. Remember, Dean was supposed to take part in a Salinas Road Race event the very next day of his death.
The transaxle was later separated from the Porsche before being placed in storage for several decades. It was acquired by its current owner in March 2020.
According to Bring a Trailer, the transaxle features a split magnesium case designed to house four forward gears and reverse as well as a differential. It is now fitted to a steel display stand that also features a hydraulically activated clutch release lever, swing-axle tubes, aluminum drum brake assemblies and a starter motor.
The sale included a copy of a letter from Porsche verifying its origin (gearbox number 10 046 was indeed fitted to Dean’s 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder) and a documentation file.
It remains to be seen what the new owner will do with the transaxle after paying such a hefty price for it.