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Be very careful when using your vanity mirrors as the hinges are a known weak spot.
If your window fails to lower itself when the door handle is lifted the micro switch has likely failed.
This is the fifth installment of Automobile Atlanta's "Milestones in Porsche History". Starting from the seeds that sprouted the company and continuing up to the most current news on the happenings in Stuttgart, Milestones in Porsche History will cover the history of the company's road cars and race cars in vehement detail. If you would like to read all of the installments, please click here
Due almost entirely to the success of the 356 in both amateur and professional racing venues, Porsche decided to build a variant specifically for use in international motorsport events. This car would use Porsche's new engine, a refined tubular ladder frame, and another beautiful Erwin Komenda body.
Introduced at the 1953 Paris Auto Show, the 550 spyder wowed crowds with its low slung coachwork, and smooth body lines. The car was first driven in competition by Hans Stuck on August the Ninth at the Freiburg hillclimb course. Due to the peaky nature of the engines torque curve, and the tight, slow turns of the course, Stuck could only muster the third step on the podium.
That same November, Karl Kling and Hans Herrmann would take 550 spyders to Mexico for the 1953 Carrera Panamericana. After the first stage of the race, Herrmann led Kling in a Porsche 1-2. However, all would be for naught. On the second stage of the event, Kling suffered a halfshaft failure, and Herrmann's car lost a steering arm, and he had to slow down by scraping the car against rocks on the side of the road. Both drivers would finish the stage in the back seat of another competitors Lincoln.
Porsche, Herrmann, and Kling would have better luck in 1954 however. Packed by an 118hp engine, Herrmann would take Porsche 550 chassis number 4 to a class victory, and an overall third place to the average tune of 97.62 miles per hour.
The next cross country endurance race for Porsche to tackle would be the Mille Miglia. This time they would be armed with 4-cam versions of the 550 spyder. The Mille is a race that is run on regular streets during regular business days. The roads used on the event were considered "limited use" for the duration of the event, and were somewhat closed off to the public. Unfortunately, trains still ran. During the event, Herrmann and his navigator Linge rounded a corner to find the railroad crossing gate lowered across the road. The two lowered their heads, and simply drove under the crossing in their low Porsche. Continuing onward, Herrmann drove the 550 to an astonishing 6th place overall, and a victory in the 1500cc sports car class.
There were four Porsches entered in the 1954 24 Heures du Mans. The cars were as light as possible for the rules of the race, so much so that they even resorted to using rattan for the seat material. The diet was well worth it, as car weighed only 1200 pounds without fluids. They were also prepared aerodynamically with an aluminum toneau cover over the passenger compartment and a small curved windscreen in front of the driver. Two classes were entered at the event, the 1500cc class, as well as the 1100cc class. Porsche came away victorious in both classes with Johnny Claes and Pierre Stasse taking the 1500cc win, and the 1100cc win taken by Zora Arkus-Duntov, and Gustave Olivier.