Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I found this sequence showing a Porsche 356A crashing at a race on the famous Nürburgring racetrack in Germany in 1981. It reminded me of my little crash in a '74 Mini Cooper last fall: Everyone walked away. Photos from Willhoit Auto Restoration, a Long Beach, California-based Porsche 356 specialist.

As movie buffs, racing fans, and those who've read J.G. Ballard's Crash know, James Dean died in 1955 when he crashed his Porsche, a 550 Spyder which was "kustomized" by George Barris, the famous car customizer responsible for the batmobile. Dean was driving with his mechanic, Rolf Wuetherich, along a California highway when 23-year-old Donald Turnupseed, driving a 1950 Ford Tudor, crossed into Dean's lane, hitting the Porsche head on.

Legend has it, Dean's last words were: "That guy's got to stop... He'll see us." The mechanic was thrown from the car, and survived.

It was recently proven that Dean wasn't actually speeding as was thought at the time, and that Dean (and not his mechanic) was driving, thought the latter is still disputed by some.

Less than a week before the crash, Alec Guinness, who you may know as Ben (Obi Wan) Kenobi, told Dean the car looked dangerous, and that he'd probably die within a week. Which he did. Jedi powers have always been mysterious.

In David Cronenberg's 1996 film version of J.G. Ballard's 1973 novel, Crash, some auto accident fetishists recreate Dean's crash. The photo below is of the real thing.



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