Whatever Happened To The Car Connected To James Dean’s Death?

James Dean was at the apex of his fame when he was killed in an automobile accident on September 30th, 1955. The young actor was a car enthusiast who both custom-fitted and raced sports cars, similar to his bad boy on screen persona. At the time of his death he was driving a customized 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, nicknamed “Little Bastard,” which would go on to become almost as famous as its owner.

Much like the tomb of King Tutankhamen, rumors of a curse surrounding Little Bastard soon proliferated. The car was totaled in the crash, and the wreckage purchased by George Barris, a famous car designer (you might have heard of a zippy little number he designed called the Bat Mobile) who loaned the vehicle to the California Highway Patrol for use in driver safety demonstrations. Several of the car’s parts, including the engine, were sold to collectors, and it’s from there that the curse originated. Reports of serious injuries and deaths associated with the parts salvaged from Little Bastard titillated the media.

However, much like King Tut’s tomb, the curse is most likely one big over exaggeration. According to Charlie Hintz writing for Cult of Weird, “While a few minor mishaps have been corroborated, researchers have found no evidence to support most of Barris’ claims.” One mystery associated with Little Bastard still persists, however. In 1960 while being transported from Miami to Los Angeles the car went missing and has never been seen again.

Where is Little Bastard?

News about the whereabouts of the infamous Porsche had all but dried up until 2015 when a Washington state man named Shawn Reilly came forward with a surprising piece of information. Reilly was speaking to his therapist about a scar of unknown origin on one of his fingers when he pulled up a previously forgotten memory, per an article on Fox Sports. Reilly claimed that when he was six years old his father brought him along on one of his carpentry jobs. It was there that Reilly recalls seeing a sports car matching the description of Little Bastard stowed behind a wall, and he believes he got the scar on his finger from the wreck. Adding another potential connection between his memory and Dean’s car, Reilly thinks he may remember George Barris being at the meeting, as well.

There was speculation that the mystery of what happened to Little Bastard was never a mystery and that Barris had falsely reported the theft and had hid the car himself. A long lost memory is hardly enough evidence to substantiate any of those claims, but Reilly did pass a lie detector test when pressed on the details of his story. Still, his claims have yet to be substantiated and the whereabouts of Little Bastard remain unknown.

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