Walter de Silva reveals never-before-seen 2008 Porsche 550one concept

It's a modern interpretation of James Dean's 550

Porsche 550One concept
Porsche 550One concept / Image Credit: Walter de Silva
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One of the unreleased concepts that Porsche shed light on in late 2020 was a modern take on the 1954 550 RS Spyder built in 2019. It wasn't the first time the German firm tried to channel that part of its heritage. Walter de Silva, the Volkswagen Group's former design boss, revealed a 2008 concept also inspired by the 550.

Posting on his official Instagram account, the designer explained the 550one concept was created at the request of Ferdinand Piëch (1937-2019), the engineer and businessman who spent years at the helm of the Volkswagen Group. Stylists involved in the project included de Silva, Peter Wauda, Christian Felske, and Romi Rost.

While the 2019 concept took the 550's lines in a futuristic direction, the 550one fell closer to the original roadster with oval headlights, cooling vents in front of the rear wheels, a single exhaust tip mounted in the middle of the rear end, and a rounded silhouette. It's not full-on retro like the Volkswagen New Beetle or the Fiat 500, however, and several styling cues (including the triangle-shaped rear lights) brought it into the 21st century. 

We don't know what's under the sheetmetal, but de Silva pointed out the 550one was developed at about the same time as the well-received Volkswagen BlueSport concept, which made its debut at the 2009 edition of the Detroit Auto Show. At the time, credible rumors claimed the design study's basic architecture would spawn a Porsche-badged model positioned right below the Boxster as the company's entry-level model; it could have been the 914's spiritual successor, down to the mid-mounted engine and the relatively budget-friendly price tag.

And yet, the 550one was shelved and stashed away for over a decade. We've reached out to the designer to find out how close the concept came to reaching production, and we'll update this story if we learn more.

It's not the first time a born-again 914 has been canceled in Stuttgart. In the early 1980s, Porsche began working on a compact rear-engined roadster called 984 that was envisioned as a replacement for the front-engined 924. It rigorously evaluated the model on its test track in Weissach, Germany, and it hoped to send the first examples to the American market by the end of the 1980s, but the 1987 stock market crash ended its career.

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