Do you believe in haunted objects? If you do, then you will certainly find the story of James Dean’s car, “Little Bastard,” interesting. On September 30, 1955, James Dean died when his car, a silver Porsche 550 Syder that he nicknamed, “Little Bastard,” collided into a Ford. He was heading to a racing event in Salinas, California but never made it. He was 24 years old when he died. Prior to his accident, the police had pulled him over for speeding, but he did not adhere to the warning. If had only slowed down, he would have never met with such a tragic fate.
Based on the Paso Robles City Hall report, Donald Turnupseed, the driver of the other car involved in Dean’s accident, was not found guilty of any criminal act. Dean, who had developed a love for racing, was the one found responsible for the accident due to speeding. Unfortunately, there are accidents on the road each day. The story of Dean’s accident is not unusual. What is bizarre are the tragic accidents associated with “Little Bastard” one year after his death.
When Dean showed his prized automobile, “Little Bastard,” to his friend Alec Guinnes, Guinnes did not have a good impression. He believed the car was a bad omen and told Dean that he would die in that car. Guinnes’ eerie premonition came true.
After Dean’s death, all the people who had contact with “Little Bastard” had real bad luck or suffered calamities. Barris bought the remains of “Little Bastard” for $2,500. He sold the engine and drivetrain of “Little Bastard” to Troy McHenry and William Eschrid. While the two raced, McHenry lost control of his vehicle. He hit a tree and died. Eschrid was critically injured in his own car. Barris sold two tires from Dean’s haunted car. The tires blew out of the owner’s car. Even thieves became cursed while they tried to steal the parts of this infamous car. When a crook tried to steal the wheel, his arm was torn open. Another criminal was injured as he tried to detach the seat.
When “Little Bastard” was put on exhibit, the garage that housed the car burned down. Incredibly, “Little Bastard” remained intact. The California State Highway Patrol used the haunted automobile to warn teenagers about reckless driving. During the event, the car came down from its display case and broke a student’s hip. These are just some of the calamities and strange accidents associated with “Little Bastard.” There are many more bizarre incidents that ended in tragedy.
Like for so many others, “Little Bastard” was not at all auspicious for Dean. Before his accident, he was a rising star in Hollywood. Born on February 8, 1931, he was destined to become an actor. At Fairmount High School, he was an excellent student who already excelled in drama. When he attended Santa Monica College (SMC), he majored in pre-law, but then he decided to pursue acting. He transferred to UCLA and majored in drama. While studying drama at UCLA, he was chosen to play Macbeth from a group of 350 actors. In January 1951, he left UCLA to pursue a full-time career as an actor.
In the film, Rebel Without a Cause, Dean starred as Jim Stark, a troubled teenager, and acquired his rightful place as a serious and polished actor. With his good looks and charisma, he also moved the youthful with his critically acclaimed performance of Jim Stark. For his role as Cal Trask, in the film East of Eden, Dean was nominated for the 1956 Academy Awards in the category of Best Actor in a Leading Role in 1955 after his death. It was the first posthumous nomination of the Academy Awards. After his death, Dean was also nominated for a second Academy Award, for playing Jett Rink, in the 1956 film Giant at the 29th Academy Awards in 1957.
Since Dean’s acting was so good, he probably would have received an Academy Award, but the automobile accident resulted in his untimely death. After dying young, he would always be immortalized like a shining star in Hollywood. As for the automobile, “Little Bastard,” it disappeared while it was being transported, back to California, to its original owner, George Barris. Still to this day, the reason that it vanished remains a mystery.