I declare this Teutonic Tuesday Porsche 550 Spyder day, well because it kinda works with May being as its the fifth month. This particular model celebrates the double fives in its name with Cinco de Mayo (not really but it works) as being the 1954 Carrera Panamerica model driven by Hans Hermann, more on him later.
On par with the Targa Florio and Mille Miglia, the Carrera Panamerica was the finishing trifecta of endurance rally on the world’s automotive racing stage of the 1950s. Many manufacturers wanted to prove their machinery on these grueling tests of endurance and Porsche was no different. 1954 would sadly be the last year for the original event in which Porsche would take a class win in the under 1500cc sports car class and third overall with Hans Hermann at the helm, a relatively new face to the world’s stage of racing.
This early variation of the 550 Spyder is absolutely gorgeous, Auto Art did this car very admirable justice in recreating it in 1:18th scale. The details are astounding, proportions perfect. The early 550s with their upright headlights and finned rear quarters scream 50s styling which would soon be lost in following later versions that we are more familiar with (James Deans comes to mind). The primary colors of sponsors logos plays off the Carrera Silver paint beautifully. Powered by a robust 1500cc twin cam, dual carbureted boxer engine, these aluminum bodied mid-engine lightweights were little giant killers that could easily propel them beyond 100mph. They could stop just as well sporting oversized aluminum finned drum brakes that filled the slotted steel wheels.
This post could not be finished without honoring this cars wheel man, Hans Hermann. His career is quite impressive with his ability to survive astonishing. He is, along with Stirling Moss, the only surviving driver from an era when drivers were not even expected to live one season. He’s participated in many forms of racing from sports cars to formula one. Though perhaps not as well known as Moss he is most notably known for his 1970 24 Hours of Le Man’s win where he assisted Porsche in their very first overall win of the event in the red and white Salzburg 917. Ironically, this was his last major motorsport event as a promise he had made to his wife (a story line borrowed by a character in the movie Le Mans). Truly a great driver and a legend in his own right.