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HomeThe MarketPorsche 550 Spyder sticks landing, selling at auction for $4.185 million

Porsche 550 Spyder sticks landing, selling at auction for $4.185 million

Rare race car was called a ‘hidden treasure’ after being off the grid for 20 years

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A 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder once again lived up to its “giant killer” reputation, scoring by far the highest sale of Bonhams’ Amelia Island auction, achieving $4.185 million after a “tense bidding battle.”

The sale of the Porsche made up nearly a third of the sales for Bonhams’ Florida auction, which resulted in a $13.5 million total and a 95 sell-through rate, according to the auction company.  That was off considerably compared with Bonhams 2021 Amelia auction result, according to Hagerty observers, despite there being about 28 percent more offerings this year and an improved sell-through from 83 percent in 2021.

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Bonhams did have a large contingent of vintage British motorcycles offered at no reserve, which could have boosted the number of auction lots, lowered the total sales results figure and raised the sell-through rate.

Hagerty noted that the Porsche 550 sale was about on par with the model’s valuation in the Hagerty price guide.  That result should be among the highest from the three auctions being held during Amelia Island car week, which culminates with The Amelia concours d’elegance.

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The 550 was a seminal competition model for Porsche, the automaker’s first purpose-built race car, which earned its “giant killer” reputation for regularly beating bigger, more-powerful cars in such challenging races as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 

This Porsche 500 also had another identifier as a “hidden treasure,” according to Bonhams, because it was under single ownership for more than 50 years and had gone unseen in public for the past 20 years before arriving at the Florida auction.

auction, Porsche 550 Spyder sticks landing, selling at auction for $4.185 million, ClassicCars.com Journal

“This particular car had its own racing pedigree, having been campaigned extensively in Europe, including at the Nürburgring, by its first owner, German racing driver Theo Helfrich,” the auction company said in a news release. “The Porsche was acquired in 1959 by an American military man stationed in Germany, who brought back to the US, where it was purchased by the vendor in 1972.

“Cherished for 50 years, including a factory-correct five-year restoration, the car had been under wraps since the early 2000s. Its first public outing in 20 years earned applause from the saleroom before the sale even started. The Porsche was finally sold to a telephone bidder after a tense bidding battle, earning a second ovation.”

auction, Porsche 550 Spyder sticks landing, selling at auction for $4.185 million, ClassicCars.com Journal

The restored Porsche is historically correct, Bonhams noted, although it has a replacement for its original 1,500cc 4-cam boxer engine. The current 4-cam is “just a single digit from the original engine for the car,” the auction company notes. The non-original engine seems to have little effect on the car’s soaring value.

Jakob Greisen, Bonhams vice president – head of US Motoring, said hopes are high that the Porsche will no longer be hidden away.

“We look forward to seeing this highly genuine example of an iconic Porsche at the finest international concours and driving events around the globe,” Greisen said.

For full results of Bonhams’ Amelia Island auction, including motorcycles and automobilia, visit the auction website.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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