Like virtually every manufacturer, Porsche has been in the habit of designing and building concepts it never meant the world to see for years. It went to the trouble of revealing a whole raft of them at the end of last year, including some based on its race cars (predictable) and even a van (somewhat less predictable). This time, however, responsibility has fallen to former Porsche designer Walter de Silva to reveal another one-off - the so-called 550one which apparently took inspiration from the 550 Spyder nicknamed 'Lil Bastard' and driven by none other than Hollywood legend James Dean.
The Spyder - of which just 90 were made through the fifties - helped confirm the rebellious, rockstar-like image of Dean, not least because it was the car that ultimately killed him 1955, when he was just 24. The incident rather cemented the car's legend, too, which (much like Dean) was part-built on its handsome, streamlined looks and searing performance. Plainly it remained vivid enough for none other than Ferdinand Piech to justify the commissioning of a 21st century version to be made in 2008.
De Silva kept the project under wraps until now, revealing it on social media only this week. The car is appropriately pretty, based on what is presumably a 987 Boxster platform given its mid-engined layout, although it's not clear whether the 550one was conceived as a running concept with a motor or just a design demonstration with a metal-gated manual gearbox inside. Either way, it's hard not to fall for the designer's modern take on Lil Bastard. Front, rear and inside, it's absolutely lovely.
It would also have fitted rather neatly into the previous decade, given the original car's deployment of a flat-four and virtually no excess flab (the name is a reference to its 550kg kerbweight). Except Porsche already had a car for the roadster market (the Boxster was a class favourite) and, rumour has it, the brand diverted all its spending money at the time into the Macan. A sage decision, it turns out. But a sad one if you like small, low weight, open-top two-seaters. Which everyone does.
In his post on the subject, de Silva draws links to the 2009 Volkswagen Bluesport (itself a looker) and even Audi's e-tron coupe concept in his post, suggesting not all inspiration was lost when the project stalled. Ultimately though the 550one ended up like those other Porsche one-offs revealed last year. It never left the Stuttgart design studio. Shame.
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