The long-lost – and some say cursed -- car that James Dean died in may soon be found, if a half-century old memory can be believed.
The 24-year-old Hollywood star was killed when the Porsche 550 Spyder he was driving to an automobile race he was scheduled to compete in collided with a Ford Tudor coupe at an intersection in Cholame, Calif., on Sept. 30, 1955.
Nicknamed “Little Bastard,” the tiny Porsche was totaled in the crash. The wreck was sold to one of Dean’s competitors, who removed the engine and other useable components, then passed what was left to famed car customizer George Barris.
Dean’s car gained the reputation of being cursed in the wake of several incidents over the years, including the death of a racer whose car reportedly was built using some of its parts.
After shelving plans to restore the Porsche, Barris began lending it to the National Safety Council to use to promote car safety, and showing it at automotive events. While being shipped back to Los Angeles from Miami in 1960 it mysteriously disappeared from the locked container it was in, either on a train or truck, depending on the report.
Since then, the mysterious car’s whereabouts have been unknown. But in 2005, in conjunction with an exhibit marking the 50th anniversary of Dean’s death, Chicago’s Volo Auto Museum made a public offer to buy the car for $1 million from whoever had it.
Museum director Brian Grams told FoxNews.com that many tips have come in over the years, but none led to the car. But a break may have come after the story of the car and the reward was retold on a recent episode of “Brad Meltzer's Lost History” that aired on the History channel.
This past spring, the museum got a call from a man in Whatcom County, Wash., who said that, as a boy in the 1960s, he had witnessed the car being hidden behind the false wall of a building. Grams said the story included details that rang true, such as the then-boy cutting his hand on the car.
With so much at stake, the museum asked the man, who the museum has not identified, to take a polygraph test. He passed with flying colors, according to Grams.
Unfortunately, the man doesn’t own the building and has no claim to the car himself. Its location is still being kept secret as the two parties hash out an agreement regarding a reward.
Volo’s lawyers are “vigorously” trying to determine all of the ownership issues involved, including whether or not Barris has a claim to the car, as there was no paperwork involved in his acquisition of the wreck, Grams said.
Volo is hoping to resolve the situation soon and move forward with the car’s discovery. As for what it’s worth, Grams said the $1 million offer to buy it from its rightful owner is still on the table.
FoxNews.com drives a clone of James Dean's Porsche
Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com's Automotive Editor.