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The Curse of James Dean's Porsche

Updated on April 11, 2014
James Dean riding with Rolf Wutherich on the day he died.
James Dean riding with Rolf Wutherich on the day he died. | Source

The Death Car

How would you like to own a 1955 Porsche Spyder? It’s quite the classic car. It seems like the perfect car to live fast and die young in. Ironically and unfortunately, that’s what happened to James Dean. His famous quote “Live fast, die young” manifested on September 30, 1955 at 5:45 p.m.

The actor was killed in his 1955 Porsche Spyder. He called it “The Little Bastard.” Dean’s friend and mechanic Rolf Wutherich rode with him. In the accident, he was thrown from the Spyder. He survived the crash, but Dean was stuck inside. His neck had been broken. The man that he had gotten into an accident with, Donald Turnupseed, only suffered from minor injuries. It’s bizarre that Turnupspeed only came away with minor injuries while Dean came away with severe head trauma, a broken neck, and internal bleeding along with multiple fractures. What’s even more bizarre, is the series of events that happened with people after James Dean’s accident.

It seemed that everyone that dealt with the car would either end up injured or dead. Apparently, when Dean purchased the car, his friends weren’t very happy about the purchase. They sensed that the car had some kind of bad energy about it. His girlfriend Usurla Andress had told him while he was driving it, “James, I don’t like this car. It’s going to kill you.” He then introduced himself to actor Alec Guinness and asked for his opinion about the car. He claimed that he would be dead in a week if he continued to drive it. He stated that it was “Sinister.”

After the accident, the Porsche went to a second hand dealer. He put it on view to the public, charging 25 cents a person. The purpose was to campaign a demonstration for road safety. Car designer George Barris then purchased the car for $2,500.00 to sell it for parts. However, he too noticed a bad energy about the car. When the car arrived at the shop, it rolled off the trailer and broke a mechanics leg. After the incident, Barris sold the engine to Troy McHenry and the drive train to William Eschird. Racing was a hobby of their’s. On October 24, 1956, they were at the Pomona Fairgrounds for a race. During the race, McHenry’s car spun out of control hitting a tree. The accident killed him. Eschird’s car rolled over while taking a curve. He was injured, but came out alive. He claimed that The car just “locked up” on him.

You'd think that would be it, be there's more. Barris sold two of the tires to a New Yorker. The man that got the tires had both tires blow out on him at the same time and crashed. A young man stole the steering wheel. He then slipped and split opened his arm on a piece of metal. Another guy tried to steal one of the blood stained seats and got hurt in the process. After all of these incidents, Barris decided the car would be safer in storage. However, it didn’t end there.

“The Little Bastard” was taken to a garage in Fresno, CA. Then, in March 1959, the garage caught fire, burning everything in it except the car. The Porsche was then taken to a High School in Sacramento to be displayed on the anniversary of James Dean’s accident. The bolts snapped and broke the hip of a 15 year old boy. A truck driver was moving the car to Salina’s when suddenly he lost control and fell out of the cab. The car then came out and landed on top of him, killing him.

The car had it’s last trek on route to California from Florida in 1960 on a train. When the train arrived in California, they opened up the boxcar that the car was sealed in. Shockingly, the car was gone, nowhere to be seen. The car has not been seen since then. Hopefully, it won’t show up ever again. Was James Dean’s car cursed, or was it just a series of bizarre coincidences?

Do you think James Dean's Car was Cursed?

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very interesting. I knew a bit about James Dean's death, but it was interesting learning the high points.

    • sassypiehole profile image

      Lisa René LeClair 3 years ago from the ATL

      So his car was sort of like that 1983 film, "Christine!" It was POSSESSED... Very interesting. I never knew how he died, but this is really interesting. Thanks for writing about it!