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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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The vehicle is, for now, merely a concept.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Cruising, the art of driving slowly through cities so you could see and be seen, was popular in the 90s. So popular in fact that jurisdictions nationwide passed ordinances banning the practice, which could create traffic woes. In a new video, General Motors and its Cadillac brand look to bring back cruising, this time in what appears to be a gussied up version of the Cruise Origin autonomous vehicle.

The structure of the Cadillac Halo portfolio concept vehicle looks like the shape of the Cruise Origin. This people mover, however, wears fancier clothes complete with exterior chrome design treatments and Cadillac badging. Its body is white while glass that appears clear from the inside is tinted black to eliminate some outsider peeping. The whole rig rides on large black wheels and is lighted by thin LED strips at the corners that follow vertical body lines.

General Motors Cadillac Halo concept car interior The vehicle's cabin has luxe accommodations.Photo courtesy of General Motors

There's a front window, rear window, and expansive glass roof. On one side, instead of side windows there are wall spaces with ambient lighting and wraparound hard plastic.

The video makes the Cadillac personal autonomous vehicle look like a living room on wheels. Occupants face each other on what looks more like a wraparound sofa than a traditional car seat and share legroom. There is also one recliner-like captains chair at the back that sits alongside a chaise lounge-like seat whose bottom fades into the rest of the bench seating.

The entire cabin is finely appointed with what looks like real wood and metal accents, sculpted seating, and flattering ambient lighting. The five-seater has seat belts for every passenger.

At the front of the vehicle is a long, horizontal screen that is raised, but can be lowered to near-flush showing what appears to be vehicle drive information. A larger screen that appears to be in the same location (which may just be a computer-generated error o GM's part) shows destination, time, occupant, weather, and climate zone control information.

General Motors Cadillac Halo concept car interior A large screen shows a picture of the occupants along with vital information.Photo courtesy of General Motors

When the screens are nested in the cabin, a hologram-like fire graphic can (apparently) be displayed.

There's an infotainment touch screen screen that illuminates on an embedded piece of plastic next to a seat that allows occupants to control navigation.

Voice control and gesture control are both included.

Though unseen, the video alludes to the fact that the vehicle is capable of "aromatherapy and light therapy". Many luxury cars allow buyers to add a fragrance to their vehicle so the aromatherapy aspect isn't too far out in left field. The vehicle's biometric sensors monitor vital signs to adjust humidity, temperature, lighting, aromatics, and ambient noise, according to a presentation by GM.

Though just a concept, it would be very GM-like for the company to be looking for ways to rebrand and reuse current platforms and mobility solutions.

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The Ioniq 5 will be the first dedicated electric model designed on Hyundai's new battery electric vehicle platform.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai Motor Company, the parent of the Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis brands, has released a new series of photos and videos teasing the forthcoming Ioniq 5. The midsize crossover is slated to Abe the first model in the company's Ioniq dedicated battery electric vehicle (BEV) lineup brand.

It will also be the first vehicle that is underpinned by Hyundai's new Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). The architecture is similar to what General Motors unveiled with its Ultium platform. The vehicle, Hyundai says, will showcase a "fundamental shift in design approach" for the company where vehicles are designed around the platform rather than modifying existing vehicles to put in BEV power systems like what is in the Kona EV.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 car teaser preview back Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

The fresh design elements in the Ioniq 5 include Parametric Pixels, the smallest unit of digital imaging, as well as the CUV's color, material, and finish (CMF) direction that works to connect digital functionality with its analog counterpart. The car's front end features pixel-inspired lights, u-shaped and squared off at the corners. Its clamshell hood spans the entire width of the car, which is a concerted effort to minimize panel gaps and increase aerodynamics.

The wheels feature aero-optimized design and come in 20-inch diameter, the first ever fitted to a Hyundai EV.

"Ioniq 5 presents an all-new customer experience through innovative EV design that is evocative of the icon that established Hyundai's design DNA," said SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and Head of Hyundai Global Design Center. "Beginning with Ioniq 5, our dedicated BEV lineup brand will redefine the relationship between people and their cars, establishing a new standard against which all BEV design experiences will be measured."

In addition to the photos, Hyundai released videos that preview the Ioniq 5's core technologies. Three feature "ultimate camping" scenarios where owners are able to use the Ioniq 5's general power supply (110/220V). In each video, the camper is seen using IONIQ 5's 3.5KW of V2L-supplied power, which they use to roast a turkey in a large oven, listen to music on high-end audio speakers, and exercise on a treadmill—all at a camping site.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 car teaser preview front wheel Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

The '5 Min Challenge' video highlights Ioinq 5's ultra-fast charging capability that enables it to drive more than 62 miles with only a 5-minute charge (WLTP).

You can watch all the videos below.

Ioniq 5: Ultimate Camping (teaser) - Scene 1. Cooking

Ioniq 5: Ultimate Camping (teaser) - Scene 2. Sound

Ioniq 5: Ultimate Camping (teaser) - Scene 3. Running

Ioniq 5: 5 Min Challenge (teaser) - Trailer

IONIQ 5 will debut in a virtual world premiere event in February 2021.

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