Hollywood

Parts from James Dean's wrecked Porsche Spyder found 60 years after they disappeared

James Dean's popularity was amplified after his death, with his sports car serving as a warning against dangerous driving.

Photo courtesy of Don Ahearn

Sixty years after they disappeared and 65 years after the nighttime crash that claimed the life of actor James Dean, parts traceable to the 1955 Porsche 550 Speedster that Dean was driving that evening have been found.

Porsche collector and U.S. businessman Don Ahearn revealed the discovery of the parts, which include the Porsche's chassis, engine, and gearbox/transaxle. The transaxle is stamped with the correct factory serial number #10046. According to a release, the assembly may be the only documented and provable part of the James Dean-affiliated vehicle that exists today.

James Deal Porsche Spyder James Dean purchased his Porsche 550 Spyder from Competition Motors in Hollywood, California.Photo courtesy of Don Ahearn

The transaxle has been in continuous, documented ownership and it has been authenticated by experts as far back as 1984 as being the original component to the 550 owned by Dean.

The parts were found in rural Massachusetts after being stored in a wooden crate and hidden from view for over 30 years. That still leaves 30 years of their existence unaccounted for.

In September 1955, Dean had famed vehicle designer George Barris racing stripes, the number 130, and the words "Little Bastard" on his 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder. Little Bastard was Dean's nickname on the set of the film "Giant", a movie he co-starred with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson in about the life of a Texas cattle rancher.

Filming wrapped on "Giant" and a week later, on September 30, 1955, Dean and mechanic Rolf Wütherich hopped in the Porsche and, after having breakfast at Hollywood Ranch Market on Vine Street in Hollywood, which is across from Competition Motors, headed up to Salinas, California for a race.

James Deal 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder Dean had the car custom painted shortly before his death.Photo courtesy of Don Ahearn

Dean and Wütherich, along with Bill Hickman and Stanford Roth who was following behind in a 1955 Ford Country Squire station wagon, stopped for gas at the Mobil station on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, California.

On the way, Dean received a speeding ticket - something quite on-brand for an actor Hollywood who portrayed the rebel without a cause. He was caught doing 65 mph in a 55 mph zone.

At approximately 5:45 p.m. that day, a driver of a Ford Turdor coupe turned in front of the Porsche, which was being driven by Wütherich at the time. Wütherich reacted by attempting to steer the Spyder away from the impending collision but it was too late. Dean's Porsche flipped up into the air and landed back on its wheels in a gully northwest of the junction, near Cholame, at the intersection of State Routes 41 and 46 (now James Dean Memorial Junction).

Dean passed away shortly after the crash. Wütherich survived the crash though he suffered debilitating injuries. He would die in another crash years later.

James Deal Porsche Spyder wreckage garage display Following Dean's death, the car was taking around the country and displayed.Photo courtesy of Don Ahearn

The car was sold for parts and eventually wound up in the hands of famed car designer George Barris, who is most known for designing the car used by the Munster family in "The Munsters". Barris sold the drivetrain and the engine to race car drivers Troy McHenry and William Eschrid.

It is rumoring that the powertrain, which is thought of as being cursed, remains in California. McHenry was behind the wheel when, during a race using another 550 with the donor engine in it, the car locked up going into a turn. McHenry lost control and crashed into a tree. He was killed instantly.

After spending some time as a show car that warned against the hazards of driving recklessly, and being invoiced in several unfortunate incidents - everything from falling on a student and breaking their hip to being caught up in a barn fire - in 1960 the body of Dean's Porsche was on its way back to L.A. The driver of the truck hauling it back to L.A. lost control of the rig. It flipped and the 550 came loose, landing on the driver and killing him instantly.

From there, the whereabouts of the 550 and its remaining parts were unknown. Over the decades, there have been rumors about the whereabouts of the car. Polygraphs have been taken and investigations have been undertaken. But, so far, those efforts have come up empty handed.

James Dean's 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder transaxle display

Photo courtesy of Don Ahearn

The transaxle is currently mounted in a display stand that was custom-fabricated for it. In the future, the current owner expects to sell the piece of a museum or collector.

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BMW's newest works are equal parts art and car.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW has revealed "The Ultimate AI Masterpiece", an exploration of automobiles at the intersection of art in conjunction with Frieze New York 2021, as well as the 50th anniversary of BMW Group Cultural Engagement. The virtual art installation is supported by videos of the exhibit's creation process on YouTube and Instagram.

The installment is the brain child of creative technologist Nathan Shipley of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and Gary Yeh, art connoisseur/founder of artDrunk. The duo used the NVIDIA StyleGAN artificial intelligence model to "cross-reference over 50,000 images of artwork spanning 900 years of history and a curated set of 50 works from renowned and emerging contemporary artists BMW has worked with over the past 50 years", according to a release.

Frieze New York 2021: "The Ultimate AI Masterpiece"

Photo courtesy of BMW

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The artificial intelligence then used those pieces to create entirely new art, merging classical art with the work of contemporary artists. These new works have been projection-mapped onto a virtual rendition of BMW's flagship 8 Series Gran Coupe.

"For 50 years, BMW has supported the arts and culture through numerous initiatives as a way engage and interact with consumers around the world in an authentic way," said Uwe Dreher, vice president of marketing, BMW of North America. "As we continue these efforts into 2021, and look for new and creative ways to engage audiences, we shift to a virtual setting where we are combining centuries-old art and the latest AI technology to create something completely new and exciting."

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shipley and Yeh collaborated digitally from their homes in San Francisco and Seoul for the project.

"During an unusually isolated time in history, we took the opportunity to curate and work with artists from around the world as a means to give viewers a true art experience digitally," said Gary Yeh, art collector and founder of ArtDrunk. It was particularly exciting to push the boundaries of art, see how technology may influence the art world in the years to come, and build on 50 years of cultural engagement at BMW."

Frieze New York is currently in its 10th edition and taking place at The Shed in Manhattan through May 9. The venue is new and features an event reimagined for its new location, bringing together over 60 major galleries. A dedicated edition of Frieze Viewing Room will run parallel to the fair, through May 14, and will feature an expanded list of over 160 exhibitors.

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The 2022 Honda Civic Sedan will be made in Canada.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

The 11th-generation Honda Civic has arrived, bringing with it a toned down exterior appearance compared to the 10th-generation model, but a funkier interior. The Civic has been the top choice for first-time American buyers, Millennials, Gen Z, and multicultural customers since 2015.

With the new Civic, designers wished to give the car a more planted appearance. This was achieved by moving the A-pillars forward nearly two inches, elongating the hood, and visually connecting the pillar to the front wheel hub. The low cowl hides the windshield wipers allowing better forward visibility. Additionally, the outside mirrors have been positioned away from the windshield pillars.

2022 Honda Civic Sedan Sport

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

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Honda's team has also widened the track of the car, emphasizing the new dimensions with stronger shoulders, wide-set LED taillights, and a more aerodynamic trailing edge of the trunk lid. Headlights, daytime running lights, parking lights, and available fog lights all utilize LED lights.

Suspension improvements, a 1.4-inch longer wheelbase, and lessened noise, vibration, and harshness contribute to the Civic's better ride generation-over-generation and more dynamic drive capabilities.

Honda plans to sell the Civic Sedan in eight paint jobs, including three new ones: Meteorite Gray Metallic, Sonic Gray Pearl, and Morning Mist Blue Metallic.

Honda will sell the new Civic with the same powertrains that were in the 2021 model: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 1.5-liter turbo-four. Both are paired with a continuously variable transmission. Though they are the same engine, Honda tells that power deliver, engine sound, overall refinement, and fuel economy ratings have been improved. The 1.5-liter has also gotten a power boost.

Normal and Eco drive modes are standard. A Sport mode is available in some models.

The best fuel economy comes from the Civic EX, which gets an EPA-estimated 33 mpg in the city, 42 mpg on the highway, and 36 mpg combined.

The car's changeover includes design and technology refreshes and additions in the interior as well. The car's instrument panel has been designed with minimal cutlines to improve windshield reflections and visual distractions. There's new honeycomb mesh stretched from door to door across the dashboard that encompasses air vents under one harmonious look.

Product planners have paid special attention to the touch points of the new Civic, ensuring that high-quality and practical materials abound. For example, there's new premium center console trim specifically designed to hide fingerprints and smudges to help maintain a high-end appearance.

2022 Hodna Civic Sedan Touring

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

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Honda has enhanced the car's front seat design, introducing next-gen seat framing that firmly holds the body in place, enhancing comfort on long trips.

Much of the Civic's technology is similar to what you'll find in the 2021 Honda Accord. Civic LX, Sport, and EX grades get a seven-inch LCD instrument display that puts the all-digital speedometer and tachometer on the left side of the panel while the physical speedometer dial is on the right.

In the top-level Touring trim, Civic gets a fully digital instrument panel that measures 10.2 inches. Here, drivers can choose between having their speedometer and tachometer displayed as a dial or a bar graph that flanks the screen. In the middle is a variety of user-selectable information, such as the current music selection and a trip computer, with the center of the display used to indicate the status of various Honda Sensing safety and driver assist systems. The brake lights, headlights, and turn signals of the displayed Civic vehicle image turn on and off with those functions.

Civic LX, Sport, and EX get a standard seven-inch infotainment touch screen that comes complete with ta volume/power knob and tuning/selection knob. There's a row of hard buttons below the screen that perform skip, audio menu, and audio source functions. Civic Touring gets a nine-inch infotainment touch screen with similar buttons and knobs.

Honda has included a slight finger rest area below the screen to make selection easier. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Civic Touring comes standard with wireless charging capability and a custom-tuned, 12-speaker Bose audio system.

The 2022 Civic will be the first car in the world to have Honda's next-generation airbags for both front row passengers. The passenger airbag is designed to expand and wrap around the head and shoulders of the parties for a brief moment upon impact disallowing spinning and twisting of the neck, head, and shoulders, and lessening the impact of knocks to the upper body. The donut-shaped driver's airbag performs a similar function.

The automaker's upgraded suite of Honda Sensing active safety and driver assist technologies now uses a single camera system that provides a wider field of view than the previous radar-and-camera-based system. More powerful computer processing speeds and fresh obstacle and road sign detection abilities make the system more accurate and quicker to respond than before.

Honda Sensing also has added traffic jam assist functionality and more natural steering action when using lane keep assist. Low speed braking control has been added for 2022.

The 11th-generation will be produced in Alliston, Ontario, Canada, and for the first time, the Civic Hatchback will be manufactured in the U.S., at the company's Greensburg, Indiana plant. All Civic production in North American will use domestic and globally-sourced parts.

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