Sunday, 23 January 2011

West Coast Spyder - Porsche 550

My thanks go out again to Ed Arnaudin & Son for today's photograph, Ed purchased this photo by Carlyle Blackwell of Jack McAfee in his John Edgar owned 550 most likely being driven to victory at Pebble Beach, a track I know very little about, on 22nd April 1956.

Porsche 550, Pebble Beach

Photo Carlyle Blackwell, Publised Courtesy Blackwell Archive, for sales enquiry's please e-mail and your contact details will be forwarded to the Blackwell Archive.

Jack McAfee was an extremely successful West Coast driver who started out in hot rod racing by tuning a neighbour friends mother's model T, unbeknown to the fellow's poor mother.

Jack is best known for driving cars owned by John Edgar highlighted by a couple of international appearances including the Nurburgring 1000 kms. Driving the 550 seen here Jack became National class F champion in 1956.

At 29 Jack became the youngest ever Porsche Dealer and was responsible for the often copied McAfee aftermarket wheels for Porsche and VW cars long before Porsche cars were fitted with the iconic Fuchs alloy wheels.

Just 90 Porsche 550 purpose built racing cars, inspired by the 356 specials built and raced by Walter Gloecker, were produced from 1953 - 1956.

Allegedly one of these low slung cars was driven under a pair of railway crossing gates by Hans Hermann during the 1954 Mille Miglia. A light weight 550 A variant was driven to Porsche's first major out right sports car victory by drivers Umberto Maglioli and Huschke von Hanstein in 1956 Targa Florio.

However all of the 550's racing successes are dwarfed by it's position in 20th century movie culture, outside a restraunt on the 23rd of September 1955 Alec Guiness, the original Obi-Wan Kenobi, was shown the #130 Porsche 550 known as 'Little B*st*rd' owned by an emerging acting talent and part time race driver.

Sir Alec thought the vehicle looked sinister and advised the owner 'If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week.' Sadly, a prediction that came true on 30th September 1955 when the legend of James Byron Dean was born.

My thanks to Arnaudin & Son for the wonderful photograph and to for the race information.

Hope you have enjoyed today's edition of getting a little psycho on tyres and that you'll join me again tomorrow for a look at a Porsche in need of a little TLC. Don't forget to come back now !

28 07 12 PS My thanks to Pamela Blackwell who has kindly retrospectively given me permission to post the photo's her father took.


  1. That car looks like a lot of fun to drive. Wish I had one.

  2. Couldn't agree with you more JC :-)

  3. I see 550-1 every month down here in Florida. It resides in the Collier Collection. It is famouse for running in the Pan American Road Race. It has an enclosed coach work and not the open spyder body. It has the OHV 356 based engine as it was built before the four cam engine was finished. It is one great looking car!
    When I see my Cayman, I can not help but see the family tree of the mid-engined Porches.

  4. Would that be the car that carries the #154 John ?

  5. Thanks John, glad you enjoyed it :-)