STIR­LING’S SPY­DER

New Zealand Classic Car - - Preview -

Built be­tween 1953 and 1956, the Porsche 550 Spy­der was a sports racer pow­ered by an air-cooled 1492cc en­gine. Light and nim­ble, a well-sorted 550 Spy­der was ca­pa­ble of achiev­ing a top speed of 226kph, mak­ing it the per­fect car for cir­cuit rac­ing.

On Jan­uary 7, 1956, Nor­man Hamil­ton, of Porsche Dis­trib­u­tors (Mel­bourne) Ltd, en­tered his 1955 Porsche 550 Spy­der — chas­sis No. 550-0056 — as car No. 10 in the 15-lap Ard­more Hand­i­cap for sports cars at the NZIGP meet­ing at Ard­more. Hamil­ton’s car, a left-hand drive model painted pale blue with white stripes, was to have been driven in the race by Hamil­ton him­self — or per­haps Aus­tralian driver Frank Kleinig, who was sched­uled to drive it in the NZIGP that same day; in­stead, leg­endary Bri­tish rac­ing ace Stir­ling Moss ac­cepted the of­fer to drive the car in the pre–grand Prix sports car race.

Moss started third to last — three laps be­hind the first cars away — with a hand­i­cap of 4min 47s. How­ever, such was his driv­ing skill that he won the race with a time of 29min 49s, shar­ing fastest lap of the race with Peter White­head in his se­cond-placed and much more pow­er­ful Cooper-jaguar. Tony Gaze, in his Hwm-jaguar, was placed third, while a very young Bruce Mclaren drove his father’s Austin-healey but com­pleted only six laps be­fore re­tir­ing.

Frank Kleinig drove the Porsche 550 Spy­der in the NZIGP. Start­ing from 11th place, he fin­ished ninth. Stir­ling Moss won the Grand Prix in his Maserati 250F, beat­ing off Tony Gaze and Peter White­head in their three-litre Fer­rari 625s.

The Hamil­ton 550 Spy­der re­turned to New Zealand in 1957 for the 50-lap Ard­more Cham­pi­onship race at the NZIGP meet­ing on Jan­uary 12 but, in the end, didn’t ac­tu­ally take part in the rac­ing.

The car has re­mained Aus­tralian owned since. Fol­low­ing a to­tal restora­tion, it ap­peared in the 1997 Mel­bourne In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Show and the 1998 Aus­tralian Grand Prix meet­ing at Al­bert Park. To­day, the car is part of the Fox Col­lec­tion in Mel­bourne.

Stir­ling Moss warm­ing up the light blue No. 10 Porsche 550 Spy­der at Ard­more for the 1956 Ard­more Hand­i­cap race (photo: Terry Mar­shall Col­lec­tion)

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