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?

Porsche 550 Spyder Workshop

Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed

This video clip assembled for the North Carolina Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed hits all the right notes for me. It’s my favorite era in Porsche’s racing car development and it’s a treat to see some of my personal favorites in great historic shots from the ‘Ring, La Sarthe, Targa Florio, and Carrera Panamericana. The exhibit opens in October and looks well worth the trip to see some marvelous rarities from the Porsche archives.

Via Magnus.

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?

The Creation of Two Masters

1955 Abarth “Spyder” 1100

The 1955 Abarth Competition Spyder was road tested by the Italian Racing Ace Gino Valenzano.

Gino says, “I tested many cars on a 6 Km. twisting course and the Abarth proved to be faster than many sports cars with twice the displacement.”

This new comet is the creation of two Masters: Abarth for the mechanical end and Boano for the streamlined coach work.

It is powered by a 1089 cc. modified Fiat engine with a bore of 68 mm. and a stroke of 75 mm. Compression ratio is 9:1 with 2 Weber side draft carburetors, develops 6 bhp. at 6000 rpm. Weight 1148 lbs.

Tony Pompeo • Phone JUdson 2-3863
1877 Broadway, New York 23, N.Y.

Stirling’s New Ride

Auction houses vigorously protect the privacy of their purchasers, but in this case Stirling Moss seems to have wanted to shout from the rooftops about his new car, and so authorized Gooding & Co to announce the proud new owner following their Amelia Island Auctions. One of only fourteen Porsche RS61 Spyders built, and the final evolution of the 50s and 60s Spyder family, this RS61 (chassis 718-070) is indeed a treasure. A treasure befitting the $1,705,000 bid that finally won the car. Whew.

The car has an interesting history, particularly for a machine that spent most of its life in the States. The car took class wins at SCCA National events at Daytona, Lime Rock, Maryland, Meadowdale, and Road America. A further class win at the 1960 Sebring with Bob Holbert and Roger Penske sharing the wheel sealed the deal on a remarkable history book for 718-070.

As to the car’s current condition, which looks absolutely stunning in the photos, perhaps the Gooding catalog for the event says it best:

On a recent test drive by Gooding & Company, this RS61 exhibited all the delightful qualities for which the late Porsche Spyders are renowned: nimble and responsive steering, effective brakes, a lively, free-revving engine and an almost telepathic level of feedback. The Ernst Fuhrmann-designed four-cam loves to climb up the rev-range and emits an unforgettable, staccato bark, made all the more raucous by the single, center-exit stinger exhaust.

Inside, the passengers are treated to a minimalist, business-like cockpit that is an ideal setting for fast, focused driving; yet with its spacious and inviting feel, full FIA windscreen, lightweight bucket seats (easily adjusted for different drivers), clear readable gauges and a comfortable driving position, it would be a reasonable long-distance event car.

Porsche RS61 718-070 at Sebring 1961

Not only is the car a thrill to drive, once placed in the right hands, an RS61 is more than just a class contender – it is a car with the potential for outright victory in any grid of early 1960s sports racers. Yet despite all its on-track talent, an RS61 is capable of driving down the highway in relative comfort and with surprising ease.

Hey Gooding, how do I get that pre-auction test driver job?

The purchase took place just days after Stirling’s fall down his home elevator shaft. It looks like Moss is fully committed to recovering quickly from this broken ankles and returning to the track. Now he’ll just have to decide between this amazing machine and his equally lovely OSCA. Congratulations, Sir Stirling.

Via Classic Rallies.

Available in Brussels: Abarth Corso Spyder Boano 207A

Feast your eyes on this remarkable little Abarth on offer from Automobiles Vanderveken Bruxelles. This Boano-bodied spyder looks every bit of intimidating, despite its diminutive stature of only 37 inches tall at the peak of the windscreen. The 2-tone paint accentuates the streamlined and purpose-built appearance all the more, emphasizing the incredible belt-line: Can you even call that a belt-line? knee line?

Placing an aluminum tonneau cover over the passenger seat is a sure win for any drop-top to increase its appeal in my book. The fact that this little racer has a completely separate opening in the bodywork for the passenger to sit in is downright fantastic. And bask in the delight of the twin exhaust pipes snaking their way out of the passenger side.

Sadly, 207A had little success on the racetrack—it lead its class at Sebring in ’55 until an illegal refueling stop disqualified the team. But every ounce of this car begs to be noticed on the track and off. I absolutely adore the spirit of these Abarths. Although as few as 10 207As were made, the idea of taking the fairly pedestrian Fiat 1100cc engine and wrapping it in this slippery, aquatic shape with Abarth’s famous tuning team squeezing every horse out of the power plant is the fantastic thing about body-on-frame design. Think of the top tuning houses today: the Spoons, Mugens, RUFs, and the like. Despite the endless effort of these facilities, unibody construction leaves the car’s appearance virtually unchanged once it leaves the garage. Body-on-frame allows for an endless stream of possibility to create one-off, coachbuilt specials like this amazing Abarth Corso Spyder Boano 207A.

You can read more about the history of this outstanding racecar at Ultimate Car Pages, including some photos of a 207A in action at the 2004 Zolder Historic Grand Prix. Below is just a taste. And as is so often the case, the mighty Etceterini is a deep well of information on this model in particular, and Abarth in general.