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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Transaxle from James Dean's Porsche 550 Spyder sells for $387,000 | Hagerty Media

Yes, it's a bit macabre. It's also an incredible piece of automotive and pop culture history. So in a strange way it isn't surprising that the four-speed transaxle from James Dean's 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder-the car he was driving when he was killed on September 30, 1955-sold for a stunning $387,000 on Bring a Trailer last weekend (including fees).
https://www.hagerty.com/media/news/transaxle-from-james-deans-porsche-550-spyder-sells-for-387000/
55 REPLIES 55
RoadDog
Intermediate Driver

Okay, that's just friggin' ridiculous. How much is Mick Jagger's potty chair gonna fetch?
Sajeev
Community Manager

I'd reckon the potty chair will go for $150,000. 

greatscott73
Intermediate Driver

At Jagger's age, he may be making use of it again...
Sajeev
Community Manager

He will buy a new one so it can also be sold for $150,000 in the future. 

spyderrmanjack
Pit Crew

Just like yours that I heard mom still uses on you....opps
TG
Instructor

The potty chair seat went for $44K
Wedgehead
Pit Crew

Apparently Mick's **bleep** is worth more than ours
dough
Intermediate Driver

As a cultural and historical piece I can see some modest value here, but that price is exponentially beyond any level of absurdity one can imagine. This country's collective conscience and its fascination with death in every single corner of modern life knows no extreme that is out of reach or too far-fetched. It really makes one wonder where such intense pre-occupation with the subject comes from and why it is so constantly promulgated. Without being religious about it, it is really the exact opposite of what should be in its place in our collective conscienceness--the celebration of life in all its forms and miracles within this reality. And for those who will argue the exact opposite, and how this somehow raises up Dean's life in some manner, you really don't get it, and never will.
spyderrmanjack
Pit Crew

it is not about death, kid..it is about car racing and race cars coupled with a huge actor and icon of the fifties, and you sound like a typical child who thinks he knows something about some thing that he has no knowledge of, and it is YOU, little friend who doesn't get it, and never will.......sorry....
dough
Intermediate Driver

I'm 52 yrs old, Mr. Angry Curmudgeon Who Needs To Sink To Derogatory Remarks To Make His Point.  And your angry answer simply verifies my point.  

hunternicholas
Intermediate Driver

Thank you, and well said.
This is another example of some people having too much money. I can't even fathom that there's someone who determined this transaxle is art and displays it in their home.
If I can make any sense of this sale at all, the piece should have gone to a vintage Porsche enthusiast and thus put to its proper use. Though I highly doubt that is what happened.
Dave67
Pit Crew

Betcha the individual who owns the engine for Jimmy’s 550 would be happy to pay 2x what the transaxle sold for. Porsche 550s sell for north of 4 Million and that is without the James Dean connection..
OldCarMan
Instructor

And THAT doesn't make any dam sense, either!!
Roundfender
Pit Crew

Interesting teaser story as far as it goes ... missing from it is information about the high bidder, who just happens to own a "haunted museum" in Las Vegas. The information is all available in the BaT comments section if you read the comments after the close of the auction.
BrentF
Pit Crew

We're less than half a generation away from anyone even knowing who James Dean was, meaning this is a bad investment at any price above intrinsic value.
spyderrmanjack
Pit Crew

you could not be more wrong friend The Dean organization makes millions TODAY, and the number of fans is north of 15 million...opps
OldCarMan
Instructor

So is THAT why you bought it? 🙂
SamAdamsPaleAle
Advanced Driver

You're absolutely right about kids not knowing James Dean. Hell, most people my age only know of Steve McQueen from cars. 

Dave404
Detailer

So now after all that money, those fine parts will just sit on static display? Transaxle without a cause.
spyderrmanjack
Pit Crew

The trans is completely out of date for anything but vintage racing, and a complete 550 Spyder, restored, is now worth over four million.....opps! The trans axle is the only part left from the car and the price was actually a bit low....
SilentBoy741
Advanced Driver

How much would Jayne Mansfield's bumpers go for?
idea1947
Pit Crew

Mansfield bumpers reportedly add about $500 to the cost of a semi trailer.
Islander
Intermediate Driver

Macabre is not the word - It's shameful that anyone has that much cash to toss around for some junk connected to a tragic accident.
spyderrmanjack
Pit Crew

NO...It is simple memorabilia from a very icon racer and actor. You sound like the typical kid who hates anyone who is making money in amounts you will never see in your whole little life.....Bye bye
Islander
Intermediate Driver

No, I don't hate anyone with more money than I will ever see (I do know lots of 'em and I even like most of 'em) I do like it when the process is doing some good somewhere.
Stuff like this sale, just somehow obscene!
Bunka
Intermediate Driver

The price paid is totally irrelevant. When a buyer is willing to pay a lot of money for something that other buyers can't or don't want, then he gets the goods. It is not an even playing field and never was. We will not know if the purchase was a a good investment or not until the time comes when it is sold again. Until then we will all speculate based upon our own biases, wants, needs and dreams. For me, it's the story.
OldCarMan
Instructor

Gee, what is YOUR interest and investment in this silliness?
Maestro1
Instructor

This is what happens when legends overtake reality.
uweschmidt
Detailer

So I loved James Dean and we have his wonderful Memorys on theScreen anytime we want it but Morbid OH No Wrecks like his should be taken to every School over and over again so maybe something can be learned from every Tragedy like His but I don<t think anything can be gained from a Transaxle on a Stand ( except money may be)
spyderrmanjack
Pit Crew

I first watched the Porsche 500 Spyder race at Pomona fair grounds in California, in June 1956. I was hooked for life on the car and bought a new 1970 911, in 1971. In 1987 I had beck auto, build me a Porsche Spyder replica, and kept it for four years. The car was great but impractical for the street and almost every one you see for sale ,has low mileage after they find that is true. I was at the location of the crash on the 50th anniversary of the event on September 30, 2005. There were many people and cars there. I do auto art today, and give me an e mail if you want to see some.
tigercat
Intermediate Driver

Not so much into Dean for himself or his car because not really into Porsche but anything historically related always needs full investigation. You say you were at the location of crash in 2005. Is it now a shopping center, major hi-way, rows of houses? Or does it still in any way resemble the actual way it looked where he died? I always feel something is lost or forgotten when things change so much the impact of the incident is lessened or forgotten.
I am old enough now when I take grandkids on a ride in hotrod and explain what and how I drove in the 70's, even in the Sierra's, landscapes and roads are sometimes so diverted I feel they do not get the full enrichment of the actual places, people and events I was once a part of. Be sad if you could not look at the exact place this happened in a similar condition to understand what the final thoughts and moments were of someone who would have left a much larger image in our consciousness had he lived to have a full career. Any connection to the past should never be lost.
salsa96
Intermediate Driver

After reading your comments, I don’t care if your the Rembrandt of auto art.
Wedgehead
Pit Crew

Never understand things like this...so if Joe blow owned this it would be worth maybe a grand,but someone with the name James Dean owned it and it's worth almost 400 thousand? He basically acted in plays (movies),how could that make the same exact thing be worth more??
Air_and_Water
Detailer

While I do think the price is ridiculous, I have a set of front brakes for a plain ol' 356A and they're worth a grand in todays market without batting an eye. A 550 transaxle complete with brakes, axles, starter and slave cylinder? It's worth many thousands of dollars even without the Dean connection in spite of the fact it was derived from a lowly VW split-case transaxle.
hunternicholas
Intermediate Driver

I agree with you.
I think what you described is akin to the old saying "It's not who you are, but who you know."
jw23
New Driver

I wish I had so much money I could spend it frivolously.
Dave67
Pit Crew

400k for a car that sells for 4 million+
My malpractice insurance is more...
Dave67
Pit Crew

That’s 400k for the transaxle of “””
Dave67
Pit Crew

My friends all thought I was smoking illegal stuff when I bought $10k of Chipotle stock at $120
acooper529
Intermediate Driver

Maybe it's just me, but IMHO this is just stupid. It has nothing at all to do with the average car enthusiast, who would seem to be the target audience for Hagerty. Did they buy it with Bitcoin?
oldcars
Intermediate Driver

well certainly more interesting then a ford Tempo
Iso_Grifo
Advanced Driver

A bargain.
phog
Pit Crew

Where's the stout Ford Tudor (the left-tuning vehicle that Dean plowed into) and what's it worth?
Doug42
Intermediate Driver

I think this is insane.
hhaleblian
Pit Crew

A 06 Ford GT or a 550 transaxle? Tough call.
TG
Instructor

An 06 Ford GT, a 550 transaxle, or ten to twenty moderately priced collector cars... Tough call
JoBar
Pit Crew

Seeing that picture in the article reminded me, I moved last year and am still uncovering stuff, that I have a framed poster from Champion spark plugs that was probably taken on the same day. It is shot from the front of the car and Dean appears to be dressed the same, as well as the uncombed hair, there is the front end of a VW on the left side of the poster as well as two other guys. The rear of the car is open and there is a box of Champion plugs in plain view forward of the windscreen.
SuperDeLuxe
Detailer

What would someone pay to own Tom Mix's Cord 812, the car he was driving when he was killed? $4 million? $2 million? $500 thousand? How many people born since 1950 even know who he was? How many people born since 1980 know who James Dean was? Sometimes a car is just a car, no matter who owned it.
hunternicholas
Intermediate Driver

You raise a good point.
What stands out to me is that when Tom Mix passed away people had a common decency and would never buy his car to put it on display, nor would they even think of doing that.
I have always felt sorry for Jayne Mansfield's family and friend's, and particularly so for her children, but so too the loved ones and friends of the two men that died with her. Because that car has been on display for decades, and they've always had to remain aware of its whereabouts or risk the possibility of stumbling upon it.
I believe the first buyer of that wreck is the man that kept it, complete with blood and guts, in the carport adjacent to his home. I can't understand someone doing that, or putting their family and neighbor's though the disgusting the sight of it. To me if that isn't evil it borders on it.
All vehicles involved in someone's passing should be crushed and melted down for recycle like any other car.