Alberti 857 (1642) San Isidro
Buenos Aires , Argentina
Porsche’s brilliant ‘giant killer’, the 550 Spyder, earned a special place in the annals of international motor racing history. The fledgling automaker’s first product specifically designed for competition, it was inspired by several successful Porsche-powered, privateer-built ‘specials’ in the early 1950s. Quick to succeed, the open-topped, mid-engined Spyders dominated their inaugural outing at the Nürburgring in May 1953 in preparation for Le Mans a month later, where they would claim 1st and 2nd in their class. It was an auspicious beginning; 550 RS Spyders were steadily improved with upgraded suspensions, and most importantly, with the new 1,500-cc Type 547 DOHC engine designed by Dr Ernst Fuhrmann. Fed by a pair of twin-choke downdraft carburettors, these tough little roller-bearing motors with dry-sump lubrication and twin ignition developed a solid 110 bhp. Tipping the scales at approximately 550 kg, 110 bhp was plenty of power to put the 550 Spyder on the podium at races around the world. With these new engines, the 550 RS was soon established as consistent winners in small-displacement sports racing. Production of customer Spyders began in 1955, enjoying a reputation as a very balanced, almost docile racing car with good power and excellent handling characteristics. Not only supremely competitive, these cars were truly just as good to look at as they were to drive, and both drivers and motorsport fans alike quickly fell in love with Porsche’s little Spyders. Presented here is a well-documented Porsche 550 RS Spyder that enjoyed motorsport success on an international scale at the hands of a number of celebrated drivers. Chassis no. 550-0082 was completed in March 1956, and was the ninth from last of just 99 of its type produced. Ordered by Porsche’s Belgian distributor, D’Ieteren Freres in Liege, it was delivered new in Belgium’s racing colour of bright yellow to Ecurie Nationale Belge, the team formed by the merger in 1955 of Jacques Swaters’ Ecurie Francorchamps and Johnny Claes’ Ecurie Belge. Over the course of the next several years, this car would be a key instrument in Ecurie Nationale Belge’s repertoire of racing cars and was a memorable entry due to both its bright yellow paint and its propensity to race at the front of the pack in some of Europe’s most competitive races. This example was soon put to work and raced extensively by many noted amateurs, including Claude Dubois, Christian Goethals, Georges Harris, Freddy Rousselle, Georges Hacquin, Alain Dechangy, Yves Tassin and the celebrated female driver Gilberte Thirion. With six events on its calendar for the 1956 season, it achieved a number of podium finishes, including 2nd at the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons with Thiron, and 3rd at the 12 Hours of Reims. Its crowning achievement that season was a class victory at the 1000 km of Paris at Montlhéry, finishing 20 seconds behind Phil Hill and Alfonso de Portago in a Ferrari 857 S. Without a doubt, the car’s most significant event was the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans, making it just one of 10 550 Spyders to contest the fabled race. Unfortunately, Dubois and Hacquin were disqualified after pitting to add oil on the 70th lap in a year that saw over half the field drop out. However, this was 550-0082’s only DNF of the season, and it continued to see similar success throughout 1957. After two hill-climb victories at Roche aux Faucons and Charreau de Leffe in March, the car secured a pair of 3rd place finishes at the Grand Prix de Spa and 1,000 km Nürburgring in May, finishing behind two other 550 Spyders, and a 2nd place finish at the Grand Prix des Frontieres at Chimay. Its final race with Ecurie Nationale Belge was the 1957 Swedish Grand Prix where the car finished 8th in class with Tassin and Ms Hacquin. From 1958 through the early 1960s, 550-0082 was sold to Jacques Thenaers, who ran it in hill climbs, minor races and rallies. According to a series of letters in the car’s history file, it was rebodied as a coupe by APAL and fitted with a 2.0-litre Carrera engine after being purchased by Edmond Pery from Ecurie Francorchamps around 1965 and subsequently sold to Belgian racing driver Pierre Bonvoisin. In APAL guise it continued to race in Belgium through 1967. Sold to a Mr Michaelis of Embourg, Belgium, in September of 1970, at this time the car had a S-90 engine. Sometime thereafter in his ownership, the car was taken off the road and it remained in storage for roughly two decades. After passing through Philippe Jegher’s of Esneux, Belgium, chassis no. 550-0082 was purchased by Corrado Cupellini of Bergamo, Italy, in March of 1989 missing both its engine and APAL bodywork, before passing to Bruno Ferracin in May of 1995. The car was later purchased by Peter Ludwig of Germany in January 2000, and a comprehensive restoration, which included producing new bodywork and sourcing a correct series engine and transaxle, was undertaken by Porsche Zentrum Würzburg in 2000 at a cost of nearly €100.000. Afterwards which the car participated in the 2001 Mille Miglia Storica. The Fuhrmann four-cam engine was rebuilt in 2003. Furthermore, the car is fitted with rare aluminium and steel wheels to complement the 60-mm brake discs, both of which were designed specifically for use at Le Mans. Porsche’s 550 RS Spyders are among the most-coveted sports racers from the 1950s. Stated Road & Track magazine in February 1957: ‘Combining as it does terrific performance, faultless handling, and excellent brakes, it is no wonder that the Porsche 550 RS Spyder . . . is the car to beat. . . .” The desirability of this 550 RS Spyder lies in its colourful racing history, including the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans, and current eligibility. Raced across Europe at some of the most competitive and rigorous events of its time with Ecurie, Nationale Belge, 550-0082 remained in competition for over a decade, speaking to the 550 RS Spyder’s inherent competitiveness and reliability. Today, it is ready to add to that record at events such as the Mille Miglia and the Le Mans Classic amongst numerous other vintage races, in addition to concours events worldwide. Without doubt one of the most competitive and eligible cars of its class, a well-prepared 550 Spyder is an astute purchase for anyone aspiring to race to win. Boasting a very impressive and well-detailed history file, this is a very special 550 RS and one that holds a myriad of possibilities for its new owner.