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.