James Dean's Cursed Car


The 30th of September of 1955 James Dean died in a car accident. The “Little Bastard” numbered 130 played its part. It was a Porsche 550 Spyder, one of just ninety produced, a silver bullet,  shiny, fast and rare. After the crash the car was broken up for parts, but today the remaining parts are nowhere to be found.

The 24 years old movie star acquired the Porsche 550 Spyder during the shooting of Rebel Without a Cause, to use it in a race in Salinas, San Francisco. Dean hired the legendary car customizer George Barris to work on the car. The racing number 130 was painted on the front, sides and back. Along with red racing stripes and the name Little Bastard on the back.

The Little Bastard was supposed to be trailered to Salinas that day but at the last minute, Dean decided to drive himself and took the mechanic with him. At 5:59PM a 1950 Ford Custom Tudor Coupe, traveling in the opposite direction collided with the Spyder. James Dean died and his copilot,  the mechanic Rolf Wütherich, was badly injured.

This was the beginning of the Little Bastard disasters. George Barris purchased what remained of the Porsche, selling off the engine to Troy Mchenry and the chassis to William Eschrid. When the wreck arrived at Barris’ garage, the Porsche slipped and fell on one of the mechanics unloading it. The accident broke both of the mechanic’s legs.

And the show goes on. During a race at the Pomona Fair Grounds in 1956, Troy McHenry and William Eschrid both racing cars with parts of the Little Bastard suffered accidents. McHenry died when his car, which had the Porsche’s engine installed, went out of control and hit a tree. Eschrid’s car flipped over. Eschrid, who survived despite serious injuries, later said that the car suddenly locked up when he went into a curve.

The car’s evil influence continued after the race. One kid trying to steal the Porsche’s steering wheel slipped and gashed his arm. Barris reluctantly sold two of the car’s tires to a young man; within a week, the man was nearly involved in a wreck when the two tires blew out simultaneously.

While being stored in a garage in Fresno California the garage caught on fire and everything but the Spyder was destroyed. In fact the paint was barely even scorched. When the car was put on exhibit in Sacramento, it fell from its display and broke a teenager’s hip. George Barkuis, who was hauling the Spyder on a flatbed truck, was killed instantly when the Porsche fell on him after he was thrown from his truck in an accident.

The strange deadly events surrounding the car continued until 1960.  That year the Porsche was  loaded onto a box car in Miami, Florida  safety exhibit and sealed shut. Then it was transported via train back to California. When the train arrived in Los Angeles, the seal was still intact, yet the car had mysteriously  vanished. To this day, the Little Bastard’s whereabouts is unknown.  

So it seems that it is not just in horror stories that cars are possessed!

Author: Vicky Lima  

Vicky Lima is a multifaceted professional with a Master Degree in Advertising. She is passionate about customer experience and the Automotive world. Besides her work in social media, she shares her passion and knowledge about cars as a writer. An avid traveler around the world investigating the relationship between customers and brands. 

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