The curse of James Dean's Porsche


2015-06-26 13:41:19


The curse of James Dean's Porsche

The popularity of the tale demonstrates our enduring fascination with James Dean

"If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week."

The words of fellow actor Alec Guinness to James Dean, seven days before Dean died behind the wheel of his Porsche Spyder 550 in California in 1955.

"Little Bastard", as Dean had christened the vehicle, had killed for the first time, but not the last.

George Barris, the man who customised the 550 for Dean, bought the wreck of the car for $2,500 after the actor's death.

As the car arrived at Barris' garage, it slipped off the trailer and broke a mechanic's leg.

In 1956, Troy McHenry died when his car crashed during a race at the Pomona Fair Grounds. It was powered by Little Bastard's engine.

The start of the curse? The site of James Dean's last moments

In the same race, William Eschrid's car locked up and flipped, with Eschrid narrowly escaping with his life. His car was carrying Little Bastard's drivetrain.

Barris sold two of the Porsche's tyres. The tyres simultaneously blew up on the buyer's car just days afterward - causing it to crashand leaving its owner close to death.

And then, when Barris loaned Little Bastard to the California Highway Patrol as an exhibit on driving safety, the garage housing the car burned down.

Where the remains of the vehicle is today is unknown. But we're doing our best to find out for a client of ours - although after reading this they may wish to think twice.

The rarity of James Dean memorabilia

How much of the story surrounding "the curse" is true is a matter of conjecture.

Yet what the popularity of the tale shows for certain is the enduring mystique of James Dean. His image as the impossibly good looking, confused and defiant teenager of Rebel Without a Cause is as strong today as ever, and he is constantly finding a new generation of fans.

It's why, almost 60 years on from "Rebel's" release, remastered versions of the three films he appeared in are coming to cinema screens around the UK this Friday.

It's why his Facebook page has 1.6m likes.

And it's why James Dean memorabilia items are so scarce and valuable:

Dean's jacket from Rebel Without a Cause auctioned for $55,000 in 2011.

Three of Dean's 1954 love letters to long-term girlfriend Barbara Glenn made 22,500 ($33,850) in the same year.

Dean signed photos rose in value by 18.8% per annum between 2000 and 2013, from 1,600 ($2,500) to 15,000 ($25,200), according to the PFC40 Autograph Index.

The rarity of Dean's memorabilia and his popularity among collectors makes it very difficult to own important artefacts connected with his life.

Very difficult, but not quite impossible.

We have two stunning items that can connect you with one of the most famous names of the 20th century.

A remarkable high school yearbook, signed by "Jim Dean".

A superb signed note, which Dean wrote just a year before his death.

Thanks for reading,


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