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James Dean's Porsche 550 Spyder found after 55 years?

by Ronan Glon

A tipster says he was present when the stolen Spyder was stashed away.

The 55-year long hunt for actor James Dean's missing Porsche 550 Spyder might finally be over. Motivated by a $1 million reward offered by the Volo Auto Museum, a tipster has come forward and revealed that he was present when the stolen Porsche was stashed away.

The mystery began in 1955 when Dean was driving his tiny 550 Spyder -- which he had nicknamed Little Bastard -- to Salinas, California, for a race. He hit a much bigger Ford Tudor that turned left in front of him and died from his injuries. His badly damaged car was sold to a fellow racer who used it for parts, and it was eventually acquired by George Barris, the famed builder who designed the Lincoln Futura-based Batmobile used in the 1960s TV show.

Barris' original plan was to rebuild the 550, but the project never started so he loaned it to the National Safety Council. It was displayed all over the United States in order to raise motorists' awareness about highway safety. Often times, the mangled Spyder sat next to a sign that read "this accident could have been avoided."

The Spyder mysteriously disappeared in 1960 while it was being transported from Miami, Florida, to Los Angeles, California. It was declared stolen, but the police was unable to tell exactly what happened to it and where it went. It hasn't been seen out in the open since.

Volo Auto Museum's tipster claims he was six-years old when he saw his father and a few other men hide the Spyder behind a fake wall in a building located in Whatcom County, Washington. Museum employees say that his story sounded too good to be true at first, but he provided precise details that only an eyewitness would know, and he passed a polygraph test.

The issue is that the museum will only give the $1 million reward if it's able to legally take possession of the Spyder. The tipster doesn't own the building so he has no claim on the car, but he won't reveal its location unless he's certain he can get at least a chunk of the reward. George Barris -- who is presumably the 550's last legal owner -- hasn't weighed in on the matter, and it sounds like the building's current owner doesn't know what's hiding in the walls.

Museum officials say talks with the tipster are on-going, and they're confident they'll uncover the 550 in the near future.

Photos courtesy of ABC7 Chicago and Motor Authority.

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