Lot 5

2022   |   London Auction

1956 Porsche 550 Spyder

Estimate

£1,250,000 - £1,750,000

Chassis

550-0079

Engine

90163

Car Highlights

Fascinating Garage-Find Example of the Original Porsche Spyder

Originally Finished in Red with White Darts and Beige Upholstery

Delivered New to Swiss Racing Driver Heinz Schiller

Period Race History Includes Outings at Avus and Monza

Updated 718-Style Bodywork and Engine

Offered Direct from 40 Years of Single Family Ownership

Technical Specs

1,680 CC DOHC Air-Cooled Flat 4-Cylinder Engine

Estimated 150 BHP at 6,200 RPM

4-Speed Manual Transaxle

4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes

Fully Independent Torsion-Bar Suspension with Trailing Arms and Shock Absorbers

Register to Bid

Joe Twyman

Heinz Schiller, Geneva, Switzerland (acquired new in 1956)

Edouard Margairaz, Geneva, Switzerland (acquired from the above in 1958)

Heribert Küke, Essen, Germany (acquired in 1973)

Current Owner (acquired from the above in 1982)

Monza Swiss Auto Slalom ACS, June 1956, Brändli (2nd in Class)

Saint-Ursanne-Les Rangiers Hillclimb, June 1956, Schiller, No. 115

Grand Prix of Berlin at Avus, September 1956, Schiller, No. 21

Mitholz-Kandersteg Hillclimb, September 1956, Schiller, No. 123 (2nd in Class)

Monza SAR Lehrgang, April 1957, Schiller, No. 9 (1st in Class)

Eaux-Mortes Hillclimb, April 1957, Schiller (1st in Class)

Aspern-Vienna Airport Race, May 1958, Margairaz, No. 26 (DNF)

Verbois Hillclimb, May 1958, Margairaz (2nd in Class)

Landeron-Lignieres Hill Climb, June 1958, Margairaz, No. 112 (2nd Overall)

Mont Ventoux Hill Climb, June 1958, Margairaz (23rd Overall, 15th in Class)

European Historic Grand Prix at Zolder, 1981

Nürburgring AvD-Oldtimer Grand Prix, 1984

Nürburgring AvD-Oldtimer Grand Prix, 1989

Anyone with even a passing interest in collector cars would agree that there is something special about the Porsche 550 Spyder.

Beyond the typical qualities that make 550 Spyders so desirable – the period in which they were built, the mystique of their competition heritage, their precision-engineered four-cam, air-cooled engine – these Porsches have developed a revered reputation for their minimalist beauty, brilliant performance, and all-around versatility.

Although they were built in limited numbers and equipped with relatively small 1.5-liter engines, 550 Spyders are among the most mythical Porsches of all time. The model conjures to mind victories at important road races and the legends who drove them – from Hans Herrmann to James Dean. Even today, the 550 Spyder maintains a lasting influence in the character and design of Porsche’s latest sports and racing cars.

The Porsche 550 Spyder presented here, chassis 550-0079, is a recently discovered garage-find example – raced when new, updated in period, and out of the public eye for the past three decades.

According to a copy of the factory build record on file, 550-0079 was constructed in late 1955, returning to Porsche’s Werk I race shop from Karosserie Wendler in January 1956, its aluminum body painted red with white darts and trimmed in beige vinyl. Originally equipped with a type 547 four-cam engine, numbered 90080, and four-speed transaxle, numbered 10054, the 550 Spyder was officially completed on February 2, 1956.

In spring 1956, this car was photographed in the courtyard of the Porsche factory alongside two other vividly painted 550 Spyders – a yellow car with green darts and a white car with blue darts, presumably chassis 550-0082 and 550-0083, both completed in March 1956.

Although its first recorded competition outing took place at Monza, where it was driven by Werner Brändli, it is believed that 550-0079’s first owner was Heinz Schiller of Geneva, Switzerland.

A former powerboat champion, Schiller started racing Porsche sports cars in the mid-1950s, beginning with a 356 A Coupe, before campaigning this 550 Spyder as well as a 550A, chassis 0127, for the Geneva-based racing team Ecurie La Meute. In 1962, Schiller drove a Porsche 718 in several Formula 1 races for Ecurie Nationale Suisse and continued to race Porsche GT cars, including a Carrera Abarth and 904, for Scuderia Filipinetti into the mid-1960s. A close associate of Jo Bonnier, Jo Siffert, and Huschke von Hanstein, Schiller maintained ties to the Porsche marque; after retiring from racing, he established his own dealership in Geneva.

During Schiller’s ownership, 550-0079 was registered as “GE 2043” and was distinguished by a white-painted bonnet. According to the definitive book Carrera, he raced the 550 Spyder in several hill climbs and races between June 1956 and April 1957, the most notable event being the sports car Grand Prix of Berlin held at the famous banked Avus circuit.

By spring 1958, Schiller had sold 550-0079 to another member of Ecurie La Meute, Edouard Margairaz. While in his ownership, Margairaz registered the Porsche as “GE 30550” and raced it in the Verbois, Landeron-Lignieres, and Mont Ventoux hill climbs held during May and June 1958.

Little is known about the whereabouts or owners of 550-0079 from mid-1958 until 1973, when it was acquired by Porsche specialist Heribert Küke of Essen, Germany. It is believed that the Spyder spent most of this time in Switzerland, perhaps with an associate of Schiller or Margairaz, who had it updated with 718-style bodywork, painted silver, and fitted with a larger, more powerful engine. According to handwritten notes in the history file, Mr. Küke may have purchased the car from Jo Siffert’s widow in Vevey, Switzerland.

Mr. Küke entered the Porsche in several vintage races and classic car shows throughout the 1970s before selling it, in 1982, to the current owner, a private UK-based collector. Last vintage raced at the Nürburgring AvD-Oldtimer Grand Prix in August 1989, 550-0079 has since spent the past three decades in static storage, kept in the consignor’s garage.

Today, this 550 Spyder is being offered at auction in its remarkable, as-found condition, marking the first time in 40 years that it has been available to collectors. A fantastic time capsule, 550-0079 has never been comprehensively restored and has had no significant updates since the early 1970s.

As presented, 550-0079 appears to retain its original chassis – with the proper welded identification tag – and inner body structure, which still bears traces of red paint in areas where silver paint has lifted. The updated aluminum bodywork, consisting of the rear section, doors, outer rocker panels, nose, hood, and dashboard, all appear to be of consistent, in-period manufacture.

The Porsche still retains original 550 Spyder brakes, steering box, pedal box, Autopulse fuel pumps, and VDO gauges. Chassis 550-0079 is currently fitted with an original four-cam Porsche engine, no. 90163, and a proper-type, split-case transaxle. According to Carrera, this engine number corresponds to a 1,680 cc type 547/2 unit, once fitted in 718-046, a works RS60 that raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1961. The engine contains internal components but appears to be missing its carburetors and camshaft covers. Other missing components for bidders to note during inspection are the fuel tank and interior floorboards.

While readying 550-0079 for auction, the consignor enlisted English Porsche specialist Andy Prill to conduct further research into its history. In a report letter on file, Mr. Prill opined “Despite the period fitment of a later RS60 style body – in my opinion there is no doubt about the authenticity of this car and its identity as Porsche 550 Spyder chassis 079. This true barn-find 550 Spyder is a rare opportunity for a new owner to restore the car to its original specification or to enjoy the car as presented in its period modified form.”

Gooding & Company is pleased to present this charming, long-hidden 550 Spyder for public sale. Whatever the future holds for 550-0079, it is sure to reward its next caretaker with further investigation into what is already a rich and fascinating history.