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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Rare 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder uncovered in California shipping container | Hagerty Media

Wow, what a discovery. More like a rediscovery, since the rare 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder that Bobby Green uncovered in California recently was never technically lost. Regardless, when the Old Crow Speed Shop owner cracked open a storage container that sits high atop a hill in a remote area of Orange County, sunlight poured inside and the former Porsche race car returned to the spotlight for the first time in decades.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/news/rare-1955-porsche-550-spyder-uncovered-in-california-shipping-con...
46 REPLIES 46
topside
Detailer

Dreams are made of this. I may have actually seen this car at Torrey Pines, as friends of my parents would take us there in the late '50s for the races. But I was so smitten with a red 250 TR with a red/white/blue band around its nose that the TR is the only car I can still recall. I still wonder whose car that was, and where it might be today...
joemair
Pit Crew

In a shipping container for 35 years = 1986
Last registration = 1994
So, was someone opening up the container every year to slap registration stickers on it?
Very cool Porsche and a fun story regardless, but the article seems a little hyperbolic.
RJ
Intermediate Driver

As I recall, unless a car has been in certified storage, CA DMV is going to want 'catch-up' registration fees from the last sticker date until now. That's going to add up!
tdskip
Intermediate Driver

Actually no - there is a provision for collector cars that bypasses this thankfukky.
DT
Detailer

If you put them on Non op. Otherwise they want their money. Unless that has changed in the last 10 years ??
Bokeoyaji
Intermediate Driver

I had my Mustang sit in my garage for 13 years in California. I placed it on No-Op, so no registration was needed for all those years. No catch-up fees either, for cars.

Brought it back out right before the pandemic started. Now, no car shows to take it to. I don't think it had anything to do with "collector" status, though.
chrlsful
Instructor

pittance w/sale price
Vann
New Driver

I don't think the owner of a multi million dollar classic is going to be too bothered by the back due registration costs.
Mal
Pit Crew

More than once I've had a registered vehicle that wasn't in use for years. My high score is only 10 years. In my case they were motorcycles but I can see it happening, especially if the owner was wealthy. I didn't update the registration stickers until I was ready to ride again.
JohninNC
Advanced Driver

My Model-A gets a sticker every year, but hasn't exited the garage in a few... hopefully that's going to change soon.
F360Spider
Detailer

Well, some decent pictures would have been nice.
merlebalke
Detailer

Yeah, the video was a disappointment. He was trying to be too "artsy".
67Miura54Shadow
Pit Crew

Les was a wonderful guy and a great loss to those of us in the Ariel community. In the 1990's, I asked him why he didn't vintage race (e.g., Monterey Historics) either the 550 or the 904 he owned (Yes, he also had a 904 when he passed). His response was, he was too concerned about damaging the car. I understand completely. I too undoubtedly saw this race at Santa Barbara as my father took me to the local race from 1957 to the last one in 1969. RIP Les
67Miura54Shadow
Pit Crew

BTW - The last race at Santa Barbara in 1969 had two 904s and a competition 427 Cobra fighting for the three top positions the entire A Production Race. They came in 1st -Fuel Injected 904, 2nd - Carb 904, 3rd 427 Cobra. It was an epic close battle that's still vivid in my mind. The Cobra was only stable once sideways in the corners and was fighting for rear wheel traction down the straights... slithering this way and that way like a snake. The 904s were just rather boring to watch by comparison. They were indeed, "The Good Old Days".
Numberscruncher
Detailer

How wonderful that such a beauty gets to see the light of day again. So sad, when a piece of art is locked away in a box.
gtokdx1
Intermediate Driver

I guess I don't understand "Porsche talk". So, the serial # was 550-0069. Was the flat-four engine "no.0075? If so, then was was "No.0069? As in: "No.0069's first race at Nassau Speed Week...."?
PorscheMan
Intermediate Driver

Engines and chassis were slapped together as they were built. The Porsche certificate will state if it's the original engine which, I gather, is the case, from the narrative.
Studenorton
Instructor

That is quite a snapshot. Turnbull and Seawright were the fastest women in the world, on water, in the 30's. There are many articles about them. Should be a movie somewhere. We should look for it.
carguyjim
Detailer

Man, the desperation to "uncover" or "discover" a "barn find" is getting pretty desperate.....
I guess a 'dusty garage" lacks dramatic effect....
Gray
New Driver

So sad to hear that Les passed on, what a great person he was. I met Les and his wife in 1972 when I was trying to talk Les into selling me his wife's white 67 Shelby GT 350. He finally did and we stayed in touch for a while afterwards. I visited him at his new house on the hill, the same one in the video a few times and remember seeing the 550 Spyder and the other Porsches he had all around the private driveway. He also showed me his motorcycle collection some of which were parked in various bedrooms of the house. I always thought how cool his wife was to go along with that plan.
I hope that the 550 Spyder and all the motorcycles and automotive treasures he collected during his life find good homes . I also hope his wife, who I think is in the Spyder steering it down the driveway is doing ok.
I sold the 67 GT 350 after a couple of years to buy another one but now wish I would have kept it as it turned out to be the best version I had owned.
I always thought about Les and how nice he was to me when I was just a teenager who wanted to buy his 67 GT 350...... RIP Les
Beestly
Intermediate Driver

Most deflating car video I’ve ever seen. Reminded me of the fluffy wedding videos they shoot now. You had one job... SHOW US THE CAR.
busbeagle
New Driver

That 550 that was sold for 4.5 million was my dads first 550, serial 053. Bought new in 1955, sold in 1956 when it was replaced with 088. Of course I wish he would have kept any of them, but they were just out dated race cars in the day. If you follow the link you will see that the auction house put his racing number on the car for the auction.
GHE
New Driver

This is a great story, but does anyone question the excellent condition this car is in after sitting in an enclosed container for 35 summers on a hilltop in California?

My car looks worse than that after 2 weeks in my garage.
yanmarley
New Driver

Apparently we didn't get the full story here as at the end of the film the last place mentioned is Holland - so has it already been sold to there? Gonna look up the two speedboat racing women - should be some good stories there. And yes GHE - looks like somebody snuck in there and did a makeup job for the film, no barn find look here. Beautiful car.
Pistachiobob
Pit Crew

Dear 67muria54shadow,
I really enjoyed your posts about your personal experiences with the old races and Les. Needless to say, a 1955 Spyder in the condition found is an amazing and fun story, but I’m now hungry to hear about the owner who appeared to live above the floor of Orange County in a modest wooden house? It makes me think of Howard Hughes types, who had wealth, and could afford to be a bit eccentric and “the finer things of life”. I would love to go visit this location and learn about the fellow that owned this beautiful car. The Porsche only begins the story!
67Miura54Shadow
Pit Crew

Dear Bob,
Thank you for your comments. Les was a wonderful guy as I mentioned, likely an introvert, and just loved to restore unusual machinery. He was extremely modest and just liked to help other members of the Ariel Club in restoration of our early motorcycles. Probably the best suggestion is to contact the North American Ariel Club and ask if his widow wishes to be contacted. Les didn't tell me when he bought the car (1962) and didn't succumb to my suggestion to vintage race! Once he completely one wonderful restoration, his heart was in the process of restoring the next machine. BTW - my only opportunity to buy a real 550 came around 1987 when Ferrari of Los Gatos had a preservation piece. The asking price was $400k, which was only 10X my budget!
OldFordMan
Detailer

Barn finds. Now shipping container. What's next? The belly of a sailing ship from 1898?
I guess it all sounds more intriguing than "Found on eBay".
MATTMERICA
Instructor

HAHAHA
A unicorn with bigfoot riding it
PurelyPMD
Intermediate Driver

Beautiful car but somewhat sad story - loved & held on to a car he was afraid to drive because of it's value. I've been that way with a few of mine, too much time, money & effort invested in them and they become too nice to keep so we pass them on. With the advent of electric and self driving cars we will surely lament the age of these mechanical beings and yearn for it still.
RustyFenders
Pit Crew

Enough with the barn finds already. I know that ‘barn find’ has just become a metaphor for any car that has not been driven for a while, or simply left in disrepair. But seeing those two words in the title of an article just immediately makes me question everything that follows. There are no barn finds anymore, if there ever were any to begin with. But the the legends persist, and typically go like this: “I was driving down a dirt back-road in Iowa when, at 65 miles per hour and 200 yards away, I thought I spotted a familiar looking bumper peeking out from behind an old barn door. I turned around and rang the doorbell at the farmhouse and this little old lady answered the door and invited me in. When I asked about the car in the barn, she said that her husband had bought it new back in 1959, but died 3 days later when he got his head caught in the thresher, and it hasn’t been touched since. I asked her if I could take a look, and when we rolled the barn door open, there was a 1959 Corvette fuelie (because a lot of farmers were buying Vettes back in the day) with 8 miles on the odometer, covered in carefully applied dust and strategically placed boxes of junk. The farmer’s widow said she totally forgot it was back there, and didn’t even know what kind of car it was, and offered to sell it to me for fifteen dollars and a promise to come back some day for a slice of her home-made peach pie.” Right. It’s time to bury the barn find myth in a barn somewhere while there are still actually a few barns out there to bury it in.
Tinkerah
Technician

Just a minor correction: the widow is supposed to reply "oh it's just an old Chevy I think". Everything else is spot on.
TG
Instructor

Or the little old lady who was selling an 'old Chevy' for 500 bucks...
DT
Detailer

Still quite a few barn find cars in real barns in the Midwest. The only problem is most have dirt floors and that means the frame and floors of the cars you find are rotted away. After the Viet Nam war there were hundreds if not thousands of Muscle Cars in old barns and garages that belonged to soldiers that didn't come home. Those had a lot of sentimental value and were hard to buy.
SamAdamsPaleAle
Advanced Driver

I love hearing those barn find stories because it's clear that the word barn find has been over used so often so incorrectly that a car left in the mechanics shop for over 25 days qualifies as a barn find. Don't get it twisted, everyone loves a barnfind story, myself included, but I think we're done with barnfinds. 

Tinkerah
Technician

If I called my garage a "barn" and my collection of neglected vehicles "finds" I could rightfully claim I discover an incredible cache of BARN FINDS every time I pull open the door.
Sharx
Pit Crew

I have loved old (and newer) Porsches for 40+ years and have read and watched all I could find about the 550's. I even considered a Beck version after seeing a couple at car shows. That was until I found out about the 2011-12 Boxster Spyder while reading about it on the auction site, Bring a Trailer years ago. I researched the car ALOT finding out that it was one of 2 vehicles supposedly most liked by the late Ferdinand Piech himself. This 987.2 Spyder was literally, the "re-incarnation" of the 550 and MANY owners past and present touted its "Porsche Minimalistic-ness" and how fantastic it was to drive. Low production numbers even too. So I had to have one and bought one back in 2018 and in the first mile, I knew I had found the "car of my lifetime". No wonder Mr. Piech liked it. I think James Dean would have had this car if he was still around as well. I think a great story would be the "before and after" of these two cars side by side in detail. One thing is for sure, I WILL NOT BE SELLING MINE. Thanks to Hagerty, who insures it, for this story.
Lightning1
Detailer

Now I'm going to bring bolt cutters everywhere and look in derelict freight containers.
DT
Detailer

I stored a Harley in a Freight Container one fall and in a month I looked in and it was starting to rust. Not a good place for a car in a humid climate !!
JRJones
Intermediate Driver

I have read and re-read this article and "I am so confused". People named Green, Blue and Brown. Who is Brown? Then Gus appears at the end, no connection.
The chronology of ownership is still unclear to me, and how much "Green" did Green shell-out for it?
BTW the barn find story of my youth was a Corvette for $100. The owner died in it and was unfound for a year. Yeah that story stinks.
Vann
New Driver

Don't forget, all this happened in "Orange" County.
And I agree, the detail in the story leaves a lot to be desired. They should do a 2nd installment and fill in all the blanks.
Lsail123
New Driver

I have a true barn find story. 1966 ford Fairlane being sold near Gunnison Colorado $600.00 in 1990. Went to look at the car. It was out on a ranch/compound owned by a religious group/cult crammed the way camp. One of their precepts was taking care of things. They had a modern barn set up to maintain all their vehicles. The Two door Fairlane had 60,000 miles on it and all parts were original or replaced with genuine original ford parts.

Bought it and drove it everywhere. It was a perfect car until it was wrecked in the late 1990s in a near fatal crash.
cb1
New Driver

now that's a barn find, and a great story, true survivor.
atat327
Pit Crew

Winter is over in Chicago and I am going to discover a 'barn find' at my storage facility in a few days.
bruce316
New Driver

License Plate appears to be a later Blue Plate painted black as it has it’s numbers first yet has a 64 sticker, Black Plates ended around 69. Something doesn’t add up.
bruce316
New Driver

Thought it said 64
bruce316
New Driver

Ok, disregard, I see on other pic it is a blue plate on not painted and I guess sticker is 1994