1955 Porsche 550 RS Spyder 550-0031 (photo: Tim Scott)
1955 Porsche 550 RS Spyder 550-0031 (photo: Tim Scott)

Winged Porsche 550 Spyder at 2015 Pebble Beach Concours

A 1955 Porsche 550 RS Spyder with a prominent wing made quite the impression at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours, held Sunday, August 16th at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in California during Monterey Classic Car Week. The 550RS finished second in the Postwar Racing class at the Pebble Beach Concours.

Inspired by the Porsche 356 created by Dr. Ferry Porsche, Porsche decided to build a car designed specifically for racing. The Porsche 550 Spyder was introduced at the 1953 Paris Auto Show and 78 cars were produced in open and closed configuration. The first three prototypes were coupes with a removable hardtop.

The first Porsche 550 Spyder appeared at the Nürburging in May 1953 winning its first race. Porsche 550 Spyders started in over 370 races around the European and US circuits between 1953 and as late as 1965 winning 95 races outright as well as 75 class wins.

The 550 RS Spyder (chassis 550-0031) on display at the Pebble Beach Concours 2015 was originally delivered to Swiss racer Walter Riggenberg in March 1955. With co-driver Richard von Frankenberg, they set several new international records at Montlhéry in France.

The car also raced at Le Mans and AVUS in the same year. The 550-0031 was later raced by Michael May where, with an adjustable aerodynamic rear wing, it earned the nickname ‘the first winged Porsche’.

Owned by Ugo Gussalli Beretta of Brescia, Italy, the 550RS finished second in the Postwar Racing class at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

1955 Porsche 550 RS Spyder 550-0031 – Photo Gallery (Click image for larger picture)

[Source: Pebble Beach Concours; photos: Tim Scott, Sports Car Digest]

Show Comments (14)

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  1. I’m sorry but I think I’d remove that wing and store it in the garage, if I was lucky enough to own that spectacular automobile!

  2. I agree with Matt. That wing is truly ugly, and totally incompatible with the look of the rest of the car. Yuck.

  3. There is a great deal more to the story of this bewinged 550. Its reported that when May first appeared with the car, other drivers complained that it was a distraction and blocked their visibility, and May was not allowed to race with it. In truth, the adjustable-angle wing (it has a very interesting driver-controlled linkage) pinned the car to the ground very effectively, allowing it to corner like a slot car. Can’t have that! I I believe that the same sort of complaints were raised with the Mercedes SLR’s retracting air brake at Le Mans. May’s wing was way ahead of its time, just like Jim Hall’s Chapparals. Ugly? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. i think it was brilliant.

      1. For any readers who happen to visit the US west coast this spring,the World of Speed Museum in Wilsonville, Oregon, just south of Portland, has Smokey’s very trick/sneaky/blatantly illegal 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle NASCAR racer on display for a while. As they say, you’re not cheating unless you get caught…and he got caught.

    1. When something works too well, someone who didn’t think that far ahead or read the rule book as carefully is always bound to complain, a reaction Porsche is very familiar with. Indianapolis, anyone?

  4. What year was the wing originally installed on this car? I certainly don’t recall seeing anything like it before Hall’s Chaparrals.

    1. It was installed in 1956, so a full decade before Hall’s Chaparrals. A man way ahead of his time, Michael May…