Every story has a beginning. That moment when a spark hits the gas. For me, this journey of documenting the life and times of the Porsche 550A RS #0140, started the day I read a fascinating article (Accelerate Magazine, February 2014 p.56-62) written by Mr John Bentley, editor of said magazine and a confirmed petrol head (although Porsche is undoubtedly the 'blue eyed child' in his books) . His passion for oom Mervin's story and the history of this Spyder was contagious, and I found myself thinking about a possible documentary on the topic. Many, many months down the line, it's a fully fledged film project. What a privilege to be working on this one.
In a recent interview with John he recalled seeing the 550 Spyder for the first time in 1959 at the opening national race meeting on the Grand Prix circuit in East-London where Ian Fraser-Jones won the race (Border 100) in this 550 Spyder. This event is forever marked by John as the moment in time when his love for Porsches started. I guess we all have those spark to a flame moments, that become the sum of our life's work.
I am indeed deeply grateful to John for his help and guidance in continuously finding more information on the Porsche Spyder for the purpose of this documentary film. It's going to be epic.
The original "Driver's Manual" of the missing Porsche 550A RS Spyder #0140 is in the care of Mr. Peter Dorfer, also known as 'Mr Porsche Classic' South Africa. It was a privilege to page through this distinctively characterful document and be transported back in time. The deep oil stains, handwritten notes and sketches scribbled all over the document just adds to the feeling of eminence. Some of these notes on cam-timings and other engine settings might have been made by Mr Al Gibson or Mr Alois Klesse working late nights to get the engine ready for racing. Hopefully one day the Manual might be reunited with the Spyder.
A big thank you to Mr Dorfer who hosted me at Carrera motors. He sure is one of the most knowledgeable persons on Classic Porsches with a passion for these amazing motorcars.
A while ago I was given a truly stunning photo of the Spyder. Better than any other photo that I've tracked down so far, this one showed the 550 in all its splendour. This was truly an exquisite car and for the first time I understood what Oom Mervyn meant when he explained the emotions he felt upon seeing the Spyder for the first time. I felt truly inspired to try and capture its curvaceous aluminum body - it had such a sense of power and refinement, all brought together in one car. But instead of reaching for the camera (once more) instead I pulled closer my sketching tools to capture the sheer beauty of the car, only in a different medium. I've enjoyed creating the piece so much that I've decided to start working on a body of work to exhibit with the launch of this documentary. So watch this space!
Below is the photo of the famous Porsche 550 Spyder with Arthur Pillman bringing the car onto the grid for the 1961 Nine Hour - The first such event at Kyalami. Drivers John Love and Dawie Gous went on to win the event.
Photo: Andrew Embleton