Tuesday, October 18, 2011

James Dean’s Cursed Car

On September 23, 1955, the British actor Alec Guinness met James Dean, a teen idol, and an up and coming American actor outside a Hollywood restaurant. 

Dean invited Guinness to take a look at his new car, a silver Porsche Spyder, a much-coveted vehicle that had been built for speed and racing. Dean called his new vehicle, “The Little Bastard.”

Guinness upon inspecting the car became very agitated, and he told Dean, “if you get in that car, you will be dead in it by this time next week.” Alec Guinness’ advice was spot on for seven days later, Dean was dead at the age of 24. 

He was killed in a head-on collision with another car. The Spyder was wrecked. Guinness was not the first to warn Dean about the vehicle, several of Dean’s friends had already warned him about driving it. 

The irony is Dean, an avid racing enthusiast, had only bought the Spyder as a substitute until the Lotus he had ordered arrived. He owned the car a total of just nine days before the accident.

George Barris whose specialty was customizing vehicles bought The Little Bastard, which was now poorly mangled. He had customized the 550 Porsche for Dean before his death. 

Barris hesitated over the purchase admitting to friends, the car gave him “a bad feeling.” His gut feeling was right because as the wrecked car was unloaded from the delivery truck at his garage, it slipped and fell on one of his mechanics, breaking both of his legs. 

Dean’s Spyder was salvaged for parts, and the curse continued curiously in these separate parts. 

During a race in October of 1956, a doctor by the name of Troy McHenry drove a car with salvaged parts from Dean’s Spyder’s, his rival in this race, William Eschrid’s Lotus contained the engine from the Porsche. 

McHenry was killed when his car skidded out of control and hit a tree. Eschrid’s car turned over, and he suffered critical injuries. He stated later that the car suddenly “locked up.”

Shortly after this race, a youngster slipped and injured his arm while trying to steal the Porsche’s steering wheel. 

Barris reluctantly sold two of the Spyder’s tires. A few days later both these tires blew out at the same time, the odds of two tires blowing at the same time is considered a very unusual occurrence, the driver of this car barely escaped death.

In light of these accidents, Barris considered sinking what remained of the wreckage in the Pacific Ocean. Still, instead, he loaned the car to the National Safety Council for an exhibition on road safety. 

During this time, the garage where Barris was storing the wreckage burned to the ground. Every vehicle in this garage was destroyed except for the Spyder.

The curse continued when a truck driver who was hauling the wreckage died. His truck skidded off the road, and he was thrown from the cab, at which point the wrecked car fell off the flatbed crushing him. 

What remained of the Spyder, mysteriously disappeared from the back of another truck. 

This eerie disappearance appears to have ended the curse, but since it is not known what happened next, this story is left with unanswered questions.

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