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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The Porsche Panamera lineup has finally fully been revealed.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The 2021 Porsche Panamera lineup has been completed with the announcement of two new models, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid and Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. They join the Panamera 4S E-Hybrid as a trio of Panamera PHEVs for 2021. Each is available in regular, Sport Turismo, and Executive body styles.

The 2021 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is the new flagship in the stable. It boasts an exceptional 689 horsepower and 642 pound-feet of torque. Porsche has engineered the flagship to get a combined a 563-horsepower 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with a 134-horsepower electric motor, paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Its 17.9-kilowatt-hour battery is shared with the Panamera 4S E-Hybrid.

2021 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The flagship model comes standard with Porsche's Sport Chrono package. The equipment helps the traditionally-bodied Panamera get from zero to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds while the Executive wheelbase model takes one-tenth of a second longer. The Turbo S E-Hybrid sedan and Sport Turismo also offer the quickest acceleration from 0 to 124 mph of any 2021 Panamera at 10.9 seconds. It has a top track speed of 196 mph, a 4 mph improvement over the 2020 model.

Every 2021 Panamera Panamera 4 E-Hybrid has the same electric motor setup as the flagship. It pairs the motor with a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 for a total system output of 455 horsepower, an increase of 12 horsepower over the 4S model. It too has an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The 2021 Panamera 4 E-Hybrid takes just 4.2 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standing start and has a top speed of 174 mph. Both of those numbers improve on the 2020 version of the same model.

Both models feature the freshly redesigned interior and exterior of the Panamera. This includes the Porsche Communication Management infotainment operating system, which now features a higher display resolution and includes additional digital functions and services like Voice Pilot online voice control and wireless Apple CarPlay.

The Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid family tree has a starting price of $103,800 for the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. The previous Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive topping out the lineup at $198,100. Pricing for the new models has yet to be revealed, but it's safe to expect it to be similar.

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The GMC Hummer Edition 1 is the first Hummer EV that will be avaalibe.

Photo courtesy of GMC

The Hummer name has officially returned to the automotive world. General Motors has brought back the moniker for the 2022 GMC Hummer EV, a fully electric truck that will arrive on dealership lots in 2021.

The numbers are the sexiest bits of the reveal. The Hummer EV Edition 1 delivers 1,000 horsepower, has a 350-mile all-electric range, and goes for $112,959. Yes, one hundred twelve thousand, nine hundred fifty-nine American dollars.

Built on GM's new flexible architecture, the Hummer EV fits between the traditional and extended wheelbase sizes of the 2021 GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade. It's over a foot longer than the Hummer H2 and a few inches taller than the Ford F-150 Raptor.

2022 GMC Hummer EV Where a traditional hood and engine would be is instead a front trunk.Photo courtesy of GMC

At its front is an illuminated six-slot grille with the unmistakable "Hummer" lettering emblazoned across the front. Slim headlights flank the grille above a rough-and-ready bumper and skid plate. The Hummer's windshield is upright, which is reminiscent of the model's heritage.

GMC will only sell the 2022 Hummer EV in one cab style - a four-door that is paired with a short bed. Think of this as similar to the Jeep Gladiator.

Every Hummer EV will come with the company's Infinity Roof as standard equipment. That means that the Hummer EV is a t-top style convertible that blends truck and sky by removing four Sky Panels that can be stowed in the Hummer's front trunk.

Like the GMC Sierra, the Hummer EV will come with the versatile MultiPro tailgate. Rear drop glass and a power tonneau cover are available.

It's long wheelbase allows for the truck's Ultium battery pack to sit under the floor in the middle. The truck will be first to market as an Edition 1 grade with a 200-kilowatt-hour battery back. That battery is attached to two motors at the front and one at the rear producing 1,000 horsepower and 11,500 pound-feet of torque. Other forthcoming Hummer variants are set to have unique powertrain setups.

2022 GMC Hummer EV The Hummer EV comes standard with a short bed.Photo courtesy of GMC

GMC has given each Hummer EV four-wheel drive allowing it to have CrabWalk mode, which utilizes torque vectoring technology. When activating that mode, the Hummer EV to move diagonally.

It also allows the truck to have a launch mode called “Watts to Freedom". Yes, you read that correctly. WTF mode. It allows the Hummer EV Edition 1 to travel from zero to 60 mph in three seconds.

The 2022 GMC Hummer EV Edition 1 will have 350 miles of range and be capable of charging via an 800-volt DC fast-charger and a 350-kilowatt charger. The Hummer is the first EV to have this capability, which allows it to gain 100 miles of range in 10 minutes.

The Hummer EV also offers adjustable ride height functionality, shock damping that can respond to input at the rate of 500 times per second, and stability control, all of which are controlled to varying degrees using the truck's drive modes. It has two differential lockers.

GMC has given the truck an Extract Mode, which raises the Hummer EV's ride height by six inches and gives the truck a 50-degree approach angle. In total, there's eight inches of height adjustability and the truck is capable of 13 inches of front-to-rear travel.

Also, it can scale 18-inch vertical walls and has 2-feet of water fording capability. GMC says that the truck has an 11.3-meter turning radius, which is tighter than what the Chevrolet Sonic is capable of.

2022 GMC Hummer EV

Photo courtesy of GMC

The Hummer EV runs on standard 18-inch wheels that are wrapped in 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler All Territory MT tires. Up to 37-inch tires will fit on the truck without modification.

GMC has covered the entire underbody of the truck with steel plates and affixed two cameras and their washers that allow drivers to see obstacles ahead.

Inside, the Hummer EV is minimalistic but effectively designed. In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster while a 13.4-inch infotainment screen sits in the center of the dashboard. The two screens are powered by Epic Games' Unreal Engine, the same architecture that Fortnite runs on.

GMC hasn't divulged much about the specific interior appointments but does say that they're "premium".

The automaker is putting its Super Cruise hands-free driver assist technology on every Hummer.

The Edition 1 model will be first out of the gate with deliveries slated to begin in fall 2021. Pricing for the Edition 1 starts at $112,595. That will be followed by lower-priced, less-powerful models in a cadence that won't fully roll out until spring 2024.

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