Major part of car James Dean died in to go on display 65 years after crash

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A major part of the car actor James Dean crashed and died in has been discovered on the 65th anniversary of his death.

Found in rural Massachusetts, the original and complete gearbox from the movie icon's Porsche 550 Spyder will now go on display.

It had been stored in a wooden crate and hidden from the public view for decades.

The assembly may be the only documented and provable part of the James Dean Spyder – nicknamed "Little Bastard" – known to still be in existence and is certainly the only part which can be seen publicly.

It is one of three permanently traceable components of the 550 Spyder, the others being the chassis and the engine.

Reports say the transaxle is stamped with the correct serial number #10046.

This part of Dean's car has been in continuous, documented ownership, and was first authenticated by experts back in 1984.

James Dean, one of early Hollywood's biggest stars, died on September 30, 1955 when his new Porsche was involved in a head-on collision near Cholame, California.

He was just 24 years old at the time.

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Dean was most famous for his three starring roles in the 1955 films East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause, and the posthumous release Giant.

The original body of his car was reportedly stolen in 1960 while returning from a highway safety exhibit and was never seen again.

In the past, there have been rumours of the whereabouts of the lost wreck, but none have ever been substantiated.

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The Porsche's original engine – stamped with the serial number #P90059 – is reported to still be in California, but it has not been seen or verified in decades.

This gearbox assembly, therefore, could be the only verifiable part of the infamous car which James Dean fans will ever be able to see.

The transaxle has been mounted in a display stand custom fabricated by expert metal shaper Steve Hogue.

It displays the assembly exactly as it was in the original 550 Spyder.

The future plans for this remarkable piece of Hollywood history are unclear, but it is likely to be sold to a major collection or museum.

In the meantime, this is the closest fans will get to seeing James Dean's original car.

  • Hollywood

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