Porsche 550 Spyder
The Porsche 550 was a sports car produced from 1953-1956.
Inspired by the Porsche 356 which was created by Ferry Porsche, and some spyder prototypes built and raced by Walter Glöckler starting in 1951, the factory decided to build a car designed for use in auto racing. The model Porsche 550 Spyder was introduced at the 1953 Paris Auto Show. The 550 was very low to the ground, in order to be efficient for racing. In fact, former German Formula One racer Hans Herrmann drove it under closed railroad crossing gates during the 1954 Mille Miglia.
The 550 / 1500RS or Spyder became known as the "Giant Killer". The later 1956 evolution version of the model, the 550A, which had a lighter and more rigid spaceframe chassis, gave Porsche its first overall win in a major sports car racing event, the 1956 Targa Florio.
Its successor from 1957 onwards, the Porsche 718, commonly known as the RSK was even more successful, scoring points in Formula One as late as 1963. The Spyder variations continued through the early 1960's, the RS 60 and RS 61. A descendant of the Porsche 550 is generally considered to be the Porsche Boxster S 550 Spyder; the Spyder name was effectively resurrected with the RS Spyder Le Mans Prototype.
The Porsche 550 "Little Bastard" numbered 130 (serial number 550-0055) is best known for being the car in which James Dean was killed on September 30, 1955.
Just 24 years old, Dean died in his private Spyder in 1955 on his way to the race track in Salinas, California, when another driver took his right of way.
Source: Wikipedia, 2011