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One evening in September 1955, a 24-year-old American actor invited Alec Guinness and a companion to join him in a Los Angeles restaurant. But first he proudly shoed them his new silver-colored racing car, a Porsche 550 Spyder he called the Little Bastard. The British actor felt uneasy and suddenly said, “It is now ten o’clock, Friday the 23rd of September, 1955. If you get in that car you will be found dead in it by this time next week.” The young man laughed and Guinness apologized for his strange outburst. On the evening of 30 September the whole world was stunned to hear of James Dean’s death – in a head-on collision with a Ford limousine. The curse of the Little Bastard had begun.

Car customizer George Barris bought the crushed wreckage, intending to salvage some parts. The car slipped while being unloaded at his garage, hitting a mechanic and breaking his leg. A sports car driver fitted two of the Little Bastard’s wheels to his vehicle. Without warning they burst simultaneously, putting the car into a skid that almost killed the man.

In October 1956 Dr William Escharid was injured in a race when his car overturned on a bend – its engine came from Dean’s car. At that same race Dr Troy McHenry was killed when his car spun out of control into a tree. The drive train holding his machine’s rear-end came from the Little Bastard. Later a garage caught fire, destroying every car inside except the Little Bastard. Then George Barkuis was thrown free when his truck, transporting the Little Bastard, ran off the road – he died moments later when the car fell on him. Other similar events added links to the chain of catastrophes, until finally, in 1960, the Little Bastard vanished, presumably stolen. Perhaps the thief soon wished he had never touched the jinxed machine – assuming he lived long enough to express such misgivings.

 

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