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1955 Porsche 550 Spyder

Matching-number rarity recalls Porsche's first racecar

Without question, the Porsche 550 Spyder is recognized as the first Porsche that was purpose-built for racing. This compact, mid-engine sports car significantly impacted events such as the Targa Florio, Mille Miglia, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Carrera Panamericana, often outperforming larger and more powerful rivals from Ferrari and Maserati.

Herbert Linge, a renowned racing driver and Porsche’s first mechanic after the company relocated to Stuttgart, meticulously documented the production of the 90 models of the 550 Spyder, named for its impressively low weight of 550 kilograms. According to his detailed records, chassis 0038 was completed on April 29, 1955, equipped with engine P 90031 (internal number 41) and gearbox 10029.


  • One of just 90 examples built of Porsche’s ultralightweight 550 Spyder racecar
  • Period European racing history, including class podiums in Spain and Portugal
  • Remarkably retains its matching-numbers chassis, Carrera engine, and gearbox
  • The subject of a restoration by original coachbuilder Wendler and Porsche AG in the early 1990s; has not been driven since

Portugal bound

Finished by the factory in white with burgundy accents, it was one of two cars destined for Portugal. There, it was first owned by Fernando Mascarenhas, who campaigned the 550 Spyder in a variety of European circuit races. The car is believed to have scored class podiums on its first two competitive outings at Barajas and Monsanto in 1955 before participating in the Nürburgring 500 Kilometers that August, where it is understood that its race was cut short due to an accident.

This 550 Spyder was then sold to Cypriano Flores in 1958, and further entered into other national races. After his death, chassis 0038 was taken over by his son, Caeser Flores. He sought restoration in Portugal in the 1980s but struggled to find the right company to sympathetically handle the dry sump, 1,498-cc flat-four Carrera engine, and alloy body. He eventually returned the car to Porsche for a complete overhaul, with the mechanical work at Zuffenhausen while original coachbuilder Wendler attended to the exterior.

Matching numbers

Critically, this example retains its matching-numbers engine, four-speed gearbox, and seamless mild steel chassis. The bulkhead, dashboard, and rear clamshell appear to have remained throughout, likewise, the underfloor still features the correct drainage holes and caps to direct water away from the compact, open, two-seater cockpit. It should be noted that during the 1992 to 1994 restoration, Wendler seems to have used modern pop-up rivets at the front and on the floor. The color was also changed to silver, the beige vinyl interior switched to black leather, and other technical alterations made.

The car has not been driven since the restoration. Similarly, the dual-overhead camshafts, 110 horsepower, Type 547/1 engine has allegedly not turned over since July 2010, owing to the crankshaft ostensibly retaining its original roller bearing specification. As such, it is recommended that a full service is undertaken before use. Thereafter, by retaining its matching-numbers engine and gearbox, chassis 0038 would make for a truly outstanding candidate for any significant Porsche collection and at discerning Concours d’Elegance events.

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Above content © 2024 RM Sotheby’s reviewed and edited by Rex McAfee

History of the 550 Spyder