Spyder Garage

Even in an era before ubiquitous photography where everyone has a camera in their pocket (and no film processing!) there are thousands and thousands of moments captured on track. Perhaps that’s why I’m always so drawn in by these quieter, more banal moments.

This bustling workshop preparing for a race conjures so many stories in my mind: mechanics furiously scrambling to get the machines ready; visiting besuited executives quietly observing or barking encouragement; the professional-looking woman making a—for the time—rare entry to a male-dominated environ. I don’t even know what workshop this is (though it looks like some I’ve seen at LeMans) and as much as I want to know who these people are and what they were actually doing, I might prefer the imagined stories I’ve created for them in my head.

I am curious about the woman in the Dior-esque “new look” style skirt suit though—anyone recognize her?

Racing with the Porsche Spyders 1955

Always shocking to see the stark contrast between the glitzy see-and-be-seen fanfare of today’s pits and the casual atmosphere of races of the past. Even a race like LeMans looks more like a club race weekend at your local track than the paramount international endurance event.

Lots of good footage of the LeMans race itself. Rare to see color film from this event. Even with all of the 1955 LeMans disaster documentaries and media analysis, almost everything I’ve ever seen of the race has been in black and white.

Porsche 550 Spyder Workshop

Factories at Work: Building the Spyders

Spyder prep at the Teloché Garages near LeMans Circuit.

I make no bones about the fact that the Porsche 550 Spyder is my all-time favorite racing car. I’ve been collecting photos and pouring over reproduction shops’ brochures for this sexy little thing since I was 15 years old. With that in mind, it’s hard to believe that I’ve never showcased the Spyder’s build in our “Factories at Work” series. Partly this is due to the complexity of coachbuilt construction. It’s difficult enough to find photos of just one workshop hammering out the bodies for historic sports and racing cars. With the 550, there were 8 prototypes built in various locations. Truthfully, I don’t know which of these images are Zuffenhausen, which are Wiedenhausen Karosserie and which are Wendler. They all had a hand in early 550 builds.

Porsche 550 Spyder assembly

It’s always a bit jarring to see these machines under construction. Particularly seeing the rear half of the Spyder frame. A bit like the Birdcage, it’s striking how delicate and fragile she looks. Imagining the 4-cam type 547 engine revving high, fighting to break free from the motor mounts that buckle her in place. It’s almost difficult to believe that this little box of toothpicks can hold it in there. Racing bicycle frames have thicker tubes than this. Even so, it’s that delicate nature of her that is part of the allure; the danger that it hints at and the grace that it seems to lend to her movements.

Of course it’s also just a treat to see this many of ’em in a room together.

Wendler Workshop assembling the first Porsche 550 Spyder customer carsPorsche 550 Spyder buildsPorsche 550 Spyder builds

Most images via Type550.com, where Andrew has put together an extensive list of the particular Spyder builds, with information for several specific chassis. Fantastic as always.

Available? in Belgium: Porsche 550A with Opel Blitz Transporter

550 and Transporter

This one couldn’t have stayed on the market for long. Even with the skyrocketing prices that 550s are fetching, this one had a small perk thrown into the bargain: a 1957 Opel Blitz Porsche transporter. Belgian dealer Art2Drive had (has?) this duo available. Surprisingly, I’m not finding much specifics on them, but how could I not at least share these images?

Porsche 550 and transporterPorsche 550 and transporterPorsche Transporter

I can’t imagine a single auto event that wouldn’t be silenced by pulling up in this gorgeous truck with the 550A in tow. From Ville d’Este to the Mille to Monterey, It would have to be a very special event indeed for these two to not steal the show.

Porsche transporter Porsche 550Porsche 550 and transporter

The Anamera listing shows it as sold, but Art2Drive’s own site still features them prominently. This is one of those sales that is probably best kept secret. I know that these two must have a few of you considering donning a black balaclava, calling your least wholesome friends, and taking up a life on the lam. No? Just me?

At Your Service

I can’t get over the details in this marvelous shot of a Porsche 550 grabbing some new rubber. The stenciled racing number. The chain-link barn doors on the Dunlop Racing Service truck. The tire tech pressing a tire onto the rim with a piece of plywood serving as a shop floor. The simplicity. Gorgeous.

The Porsche ain’t bad either.

I can’t find a source for this photo. If you know anything more about it, leave a comment.

Update: Over on Facebook, Joe Camilleri suggests that this was in Australia. In the comments below, Andrew goes one further. Confirming Australia (Phillip Island race track in Victoria Australia in 1957) and even identifies the specific Porsche Spyder as chassis 550-0056. He should know, his Type550.com is an authoritative source on all things Spyders. Thanks guys!