Porsche 550 Spyder with Le Mans history leads Paris auction

RM Sotheby's is selling a 1953 Porsche 550 Spyder campaigned by Equipe National Belge, which featured at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1957

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In the beginning there was the 356, and from it came the idea for Porsche's first racing car: the 550 Spyder. There were 90 of these sleek, silver sports cars, and one of them was delivered to Belgium. Now, it’s being sent to Paris to be sold by RM Sotheby’s.

First assembled in 1953, the design was honed over several years, and in its final year of production in 1956 it was of marked difference to the original car. There was a five-speed manual gearbox rather than a four-speed, it had a lighter and more rigid spaceframe chassis, and a better honed 1.5-litre flat-four engine.

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This 1956 550A RS Spyder, chassis no. 550-0082, was campaigned by Ecurie Nationale Belge, Belgium’s leading racing team in the 1950s and ‘60s. It was most frequently driven by Claude Dubois, but first raced by Gilberte Thirion, one of the top female Belgian racing drivers of the day.

In 1956 the car took its first win in the Course de Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons hillclimb, and competed in more high-profile races such as the Le Mans 24 Hours, 1000km of Nürburgring and several other sports car events. In 1957 it came fifth in the S1.5 class at the Nürburgring classic, where the fleet of Porsche 550As locked out the top five positions.

As one of the top Porsche collector cars, a full ownership history and documentation is a must with these vehicles, and this classic benefits from being one of the best documented 550 Spyders that’s appeared on the market.

Contained in the sale are notes marking the delivery to Ecurie Nationale Belge, and the selection of European owners before it ended up at Porsche Würzburg in 2000, where it underwent a thorough restoration. Having a professional servicing and examination means it’s now fitted with the correct type engine and gearbox, having supposedly gone through a period where it didn’t, and has a new Spyder body.

The great thing about this restoration was it allowed the car to return to motorsport, entering the 2001 Mille Miglia shortly after its time at Würzburg. Five years ago it was given a complete engine service to keep it ticking, and this piece of Porsche motorsport history estimated to sell for €3,800,000 - €4,300,000 ($4,320,00 - $4,887,000, £3,380,000 - £3,825,000) on February 6 2019 at Place Vauban in Paris.

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