July 21, 2024

Linkage Mag

Geared for the Automotive Life

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RM Sotheby’s Brings Porsche 550A Prototype Le Mans Coupe to Monterey

Porsche earned its reputation for building world-beating race cars on the global stage, especially in the early years. But only a select few cars were out there building that reputation for Porsche’s in-house Werks team.

This 1956 550A prototype is one of those cars — and RM Sotheby’s will be offering it for sale in Monterey later this month.

This car, s/n 550A-0104, is the only surviving 550A to wear the streamlined fastback roof designed by Wilhelm Hild and Erwin Komenda. The slippery shape helped the car to achieve a first in class at the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans as a Porsche Werks factory entry, raced by Richard von Frankenberg and Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips. After Le Mans, the innovative roof was removed and the car was raced as a privateer, driven by John Edgar, Jack McAfee, Ken Miles, Jean-Pierre Kunstle and others. 

During its history, the car has worn a replacement aluminum body, another different fiberglass body and was repowered with a Corvair six-cylinder engine — but it remained a strong competitor throughout its active years.

In the early 2000s, collector Julio Palmaz tracked it down, bought it and restored it. Bringing it back to Le Mans-spec was the goal, which was helped in large part by comparing it to the 1956 Targa Florio-winning 550A, which was also in his collection at the time.

It’s being offered as lot 329 at RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale, with a pre-sale estimate of $5,500,000 to $7,500,000. It will cross the block on Saturday, August 19.

Porsche has been a hot topic in the market for years now — and vintage racers with qualified history generally rise to the top, depending on that history and the car’s rarity. This one seems to have it all, which should fill the room when it crosses the block at the Portola Plaza in Monterey.

Learn more about the car here.

Images: Robin Adams ©2023, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s