$726,000 is a lot of money no matter how you slice it, but this car has it
all-an important place in Porsche's history, racing success, good
documentation and a professional restoration


The 1956 Porsche 550/1500RS prototype was first introduced at the Paris Salon in October of 1953. Although it was announced that this car would soon be available, it was not until a full year later that the design was actually finalized. Powered by the Type 547 four-cam engine, the cars acquitted themselves well in competition, racing at Le Mans, in the 12 Hours of Rheims and at the Nurburgring, among other venues in 1954.
For the 1956 season, the much-improved 550A/1500RS was introduced. Although visually similar, the chassis was completely new, a tube frame structure designed to dramatically reduce the torsional flexibility of the earlier cars. At the same time the rear suspension was completely revamped, although still a swing arm design, the geometry was all new, and an outer CV joint greatly improved the grip of the rear end under cornering. Finally, the twin-cam engines were enhanced with crankshaft-mounted distributors, higher compression, and new Weber carburetors.
The 1956 RS Spyder offered here was the first factory team car. It won the demanding 1956 Targa Florio overall, driven by Umberto Maglioli. It placed first in class and fourth overall at the Nurburgring 1000 km race, driven by Count Wolfgang von Trips and Maglioli. It also raced in the Mille Miglia, Le Mans, at Rheims, and elsewhere during the 1956 season.
It also had many unique identifying features still on the bodywork, which were unique to #0101. At some point the original engine #P90101 was replaced by a correct type 547/1 four cam Carrera engine with #P90699. The car has undergone a professional mechanical restoration to a very high standard.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1956 Porsche 550A 1500 RS
Years Produced:1956-57
Number Produced:39
Original List Price:24,600 Deutsche Marks (approx. $6,000)
Distributor Caps:$1,000
Chassis Number Location:stamped on frame in rear
Engine Number Location:stamped near center of engine case
Club Info:Porsche Club of America, 980 Hammond Drive, Suite 1000, Atlanta, GA 30328
Alternatives:1955-57 Maserati 150S, 1948-56 OSCA MT-4, 1956 Ferrari 500 TR
Investment Grade:A

The SCM analysis: This 1956 Porsche 550A/1500 RS Spyder sold for $726,000 at the RM Monterey auction held August 13-14, 2004.
Porsche believed that they could build a lightweight, nimble car with a small-displacement, fuel-efficient engine, which, on the right circuit, could win not just class victories but overall victories.
To accomplish their goals, Porsche designed a tubular chassis and built a beautiful aluminum body. And while the 550A was visually familiar, nearly everything about it was new. The handling was improved, and the engine was more powerful. The large aluminum vented drum brakes provided excellent stopping capability. With a long distance fuel tank, pit stops were kept to a minimum.
This 1956 Porsche 550A RS 1500 Spyder is one of 39 built. More importantly it is one of only four factory team cars, which competed in the FIA World Championship of makes during the 1956 and 1957 seasons. As stated above, its competition history is both stellar and well-documented.
Porsche wasn’t afraid to put its lightweight, nimble 1500cc car against the might of the 3.0-liter Ferraris and Maseratis-if the circuit was the right one. Winning the Targo a Florio was Porsche’s first major victory and encouraged them to continue development of the racing Spyders, which evolved into the RSK and RS60.
This particular car comes with a copy of the Porsche Factory Record, which states that the 550A #0101 “was the first factory team car in this series produced for the 1956 racing season. Only three more vehicles were built.” #0101 is also featured in several books on the history of Porsche racing.
To find one of just four produced, as this 550A/1500 RS is with a terrific history and its original mechanical components intact, well restored, and with proper documentation, is even more special. An added plus is that this car was in the collection of the late Heinz Prechter, founder of ASC (American Sunroof Corporation) for many years.
When one considers that this RS Spyder is an entry into most every exciting historic races, today including the Mille Miglia, Le Mans 24 hour Classic, the Tour Auto in France, the Tour of Spain, the Monaco Historic, and any U.S. event, its appeal to the new owner is simple to understand.
$726,000 is a lot of money no matter how you slice it. But just as in the art world, there are more and more collectors chasing fewer and fewer good pieces. This car has it all – an important place in Porsche’s history, racing success, good documentation and a professional restoration. Toss in its ability to get the new owner into the prestigious vintage events of his choice, and, if your pockets go this deep, buying this car is almost a no-brainer. Further, it should prove to be a solid investment. Consider: this is the first factory team car, and one of only four of this series. Only one car can be the first one, and that is this one. Whoever owns it gets bragging rights, and that’s always worth a lot, as rich guys do seem to spend a lot of time bragging to each other about their toys.
I know of factory RSK and RS 60 Spyders, with good histories, that have sold for even more than this. So calling this sale fair for all parties involved seems completely appropriate.
(Historical and descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.)

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