The first Spyder 550 - ever!

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The first Spyder 550 - ever!

Postby mightyspyder » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:19 am

Members may remember my earlier rantings over Glöckler-Porsches, for it was from Glöckler’s innovations (and their huge success in racing) that Porsche themselves decided the time was overdue for the first 550 to be launched, and they slavishly copied a great deal of what Walter Glöckler had designed. Realising that a mid-engine layout was key to future glory, Porsche’s thinking led to Project 550, a new chassis programme executed by Wilhelm Hild.
The aim was to prepare two cars for the 24 Heures du Mans. The first prototype used a 356 1500 Super engine that was positioned between the driver and rear axle. This was supported by a simple ladder-frame and utilised 356 suspension. Clad in roadster format, the first 550 debuted at the Nürburgring piloted by Helm Glöckler and won its class.
For Le Mans, the first 550 and a second car were fitted as coupès, the bodies designed by Erwin Komenda. Though unbelievably hot and noisy, with tin tops they were better suited to the high-speed straights at Le Sarthe. Drivers Richard Frankenberg and Paul Frère finished 15th overall, just ahead of Helm Glöckler [that name again] and Hans Herrmann in the second car. This gave the coupès both first and second in class.
In late 1953, Porsche showcased a more definitive version of the 550 with a four-cam engine and simple roadster bodywork. Despite these upgrades, the coupès were retained by the factory to contest the Carrera Panamericana, and driven by Jose Herrarte and Jaroslav Juhan to victory in the 1500cc class.
After their appearance in Mexico, both coupès were retired and disappeared off the radar. The Collier car - 550-01 - was eventually discovered just a few years ago and restored [some say over restored] by Cavaglieri. In its 1953 Carrera Panamericana specification, 550-1 was presented at Goodwood in an exact version of the livery used when it competed in 1953. For a mini tour, see this http://origin.porsche.com/uk/videos/por ... t-goodwood
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I want to turn the clock back fifty years...
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Postby Goofycat » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:35 am

Classic coolness! It makes me wonder if/when one of the 550 manufacturers will offer the coupe in their lineup of cars. Seems that a fiberglass top might tend to make the car a bit top-heavy when compared to the present open-top version. In any case, protection against an errant rainstorm on a cross-country trip would be a welcome addition.

I noticed that the comment was made in the video that the aluminum body was a millimeter thick....that's only the thickness of a dime. It made me think about the fragility of the aluminum bodywork as compared to the fiberglass skin that our reproduction cars boast.

Are there any figures that compare the weight of, say, a square meter of 1mm-thick aluminum to the average weight of a piece of fiberglass cut to the same size or---even better---the weight of the entire body?
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Postby Larry Jowdy » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:44 am

No answer to your question but I once saw a 1966 427 Cobra Competition car being restored. Once the body was un-rivited from the frame, 2 guys picked it up (very easily) and removed it from the frame so, it obviously was very light. I'm sure the Spyder's body is equally as light as the Cobra.
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Postby Natano » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:51 am

I recall Dario telling me that the panels on the original Spyders were 50 mils thick.

I found this conversion on one of the internets: mil * 0.0254 = millimeter

which, if I'm assuming correct here, the original Spyder's panels were 1.27mm. Dario had also noted how extensive and complex the bracing and integral support was on the body - presumably to account for the thin/light panels
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Postby Goofycat » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:19 am

Right. An inch is 25.4 mm. I used the metric system in chemistry and physics while in college and found that it was far easier to use, but what do I know. ;)
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Postby RickJ » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:58 am

Here's the 550 Coupe (same as in Mightyspyder's post) on the Laguna Seca track at the Monterey Historics (this picture is from the 'Pre-Historics') in August, 2005
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Postby sjgharib » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:58 am

Aluminum is 2.7 g/cm3
fiberglass (hand laminated) rule of thumb is 50/50 resin to fabric.

So for 1 sq meter of of 1mm thick aluminum = 2.7 kg = 6 lbs
For 1 square meter of 1mm mat fiberglass (with 50/50 resin) = 1 kg

However, if you've cut a hole in our bodies anywhere, you'll realize that we don't have 1mm thick skins! more like 5mm or more!
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Postby Goofycat » Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:39 am

So.....one square meter of mat fiberglass at 5mm/square meter would compute to 5kg, or (2.2#/kg x 5) = 11 lbs per meter of fiberglass, making a fiberglass body almost twice as heavy as an aluminum one.
Did I get that right?
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Postby DannyP » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:12 am

Probably, Goofers!

I wouldn't want a coupe, though I toyed with the idea of a hardtop.

I do have a vinyl ragtop though. At sustained high speeds, like 70-80, you would probably go deaf from the booming noise that is held in by the top. The car is so much quieter topless it isn't funny. Normal speeds aren't too bad, say up to 55, but above that, it's say hello to Miracle Ear!
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