Ghost Rider

The gas station where James Dean filled up before his last ride—then and now

L.A. History 2 Comments

No car had more bad luck than “Little Bastard,” as James Dean called his Porsche 550; only Dean himself was less fortunate. Nurturing a reputation as a rebel without a cause before the film’s release, he enjoyed dangerous sports. For his seven-hour trek to a race in Salinas on September 30, 1955, he filled the gas tank at Casa de Petrol (now a flower shop) in Sherman Oaks, where a member of his entourage took this shot (inset). Several hours later Dean struck another car on Highway 46 near Paso Robles and died at the scene. Lore has it that several people linked to the roadster in the years after the crash were killed or seriously injured. In 1960, the car disappeared and hasn’t been seen since. Locals swear they have spotted the ghost of the actor hitching a ride near the James Dean Memorial Junction.

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  1. Lee Raskin

    March 27, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    While it’s true that on Sept. 30, 1955, James Dean stopped at the Mobil station at Ventura and Beverly Glen Blvd. in Sherman Oaks to fill up his Porsche…which was captured on film by his mechanic, Rolf Wutherich. The rest of the story surrounding the various injuries and sudden disappearance of the ‘Little Bastard’ Porsche 550′s carcass isn’t realistic. Most ‘Deaners’ discount all the urban folk lore as being highly exaggerated and embellished over the past 57 years by George Barris, who claimed to have customized Dean’s Porsche, but did not. See James Dean At Speed (Amazon) …for the real deal! Lee Raskin, Porsche and James Dean historian/archivist.

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