Later this week, RM Sotheby’s will auction off a gorgeous 1956 550A Prototype “Le Mans” Werks Coupe as part of its sales event at the annual automobile gathering. The silver speed machine has a richer competitive history than most, having not just raced at endurance racing’s biggest event but won its class there as well.
Porsche, founded in 1948, wasted little time building a proud motorsports tradition. The automaker spent its first decade establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with in endurance racing, putting in stellar performances at the 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Daytona, Targa Florio and, of course, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A select number of the Porsche Werks factory race cars responsible for the company’s early success survive to this day, but almost all are owned by the automaker and on display at its museum in Stuttgart. Not this 550A fastback, though.
This racer, chassis 550A-0104, was specifically developed to race at Le Mans in 1956. Unlike, other 550As that have hit the market in recent years, which have tended to be spiders, it has a hard top. The two-door’s curvy alloy body is finished in a brilliant coat of silver and it has sports racing gumballs with the number 25 on the hood, sides and rear. It’s powered by a Type 547 1.5-liter engine that could generate 110 horses. The 550A, like many race cars, has taken some punishment over the years, but underwent a thorough restoration last decade that brought it back to its original appearance and specification.
Chassis 0104 was driven by Richard von Frankenberg and Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips at Le Mans at Le Mans. The pair of Porsche factory drivers piloted the vehicle to a class victory and fifth place overall. It then went on to have a very successful privateer history before being retired from competition in 1968. Despite being the sole surviving example of its type, the car has only been exhibited on rare occasions in the decades since, like at the 2015 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, 2018 Rennsport Reunion VI and as part of the Le Mans Centenary display at last year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion Races.
Interested in adding the 550A Prototype “Le Mans” Werks Coupe to your collection? Prepare to splurge. RM Sotheby’s expects the car to go for between $5.5 million and $7.5 million when it hits the block later this week. As high as the auction house’s estimate may be, it doesn’t seem all that far-fetched considering the vehicle’s pedigree and condition.
Click here for more photos of the 1956 Porsche 550A Prototype “Le Mans” Werks Coupe.