Friday 25 November 2011

James Dean and his Porsche 550 Spyder

James Byron Dean was born on February 8th, 1931 in Marion, Indiana.

He is known mostly for the brilliance of his acting in his only 3 feature movies: East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant. He received two posthumous Best Actor Academy Award nominations, for East of Eden and Giant.

He is less well known for his automobile racing activities. In 1953, he started with a race-prepared MG TD, then trading up to a Porsche 356 in 1954.

He showed some skill on the track, so he again traded up to a Porsche 550 Spyder. He had actually ordered a Lotus X for his racing activities, but its delivery was delayed so Dean settled on the Spyder.

His language coach for the movie Giant, Bill Hickman, called him “Little Bastard”, so Dean had that painted in script on the back of the Porsche by legendary pin-striper Dean Jeffries.

On the morning of September 30, 1955, Dean and his mechanic Rolf Wütherich set off from Competition Motors in Los Angeles to go to a sports car race in Salinas, California.

On their way there, a 1950 Ford Custom Tudor coupe, driven by 23-year-old Donald Turnupseed, took a fork in the road, his left turn bringing him head-on into the path of Dean’s Porsche.

Wütherich survived the crash, but Dean was not as lucky and died about 10 minutes afterward.

Interestingly, he was quoted as saying, "People say racing is dangerous. But I'd rather take my chances on the track any day than on the highway."

Sadly, he was right.

For the past little while, I've wanted to do a piece on James Dean and his 550, so finally I got around to it. I call it "Immortality", and it's done in mixed media.

The background is acrylic on 70 year-old unused canvas board (my dad's), Dean and his mechanic are in pen&ink and archival markers on illustration board, on which I also illustrated the wheels in Prismacolor pencils.

The Porsche 550 Spyder is on 18-gauge sheet aluminum, which I engraved, sanded, painted on with oil model paint and pen&ink, cut out, filed and sanded, and finished in gloss varnished. The Porsche is about a 1/4" off the canvas ...

The size of the piece is 16"x 12" (40.6cm x 30.5cm), unframed.
It's framed in a black floating frame ...
I included part of a quote of his that I found appropriate for this.

This piece is is available for sale; please contact me at  if you are interested.

Thursday 24 November 2011

The Automotive Word from the East

In the latest Automobile magazine (December 2011), one of my favorite automotive journalists Jamie Kitman makes an interesting journey through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, cruising in a new Jaguar XJ.

On his travels, he meets up with an old friend of his Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who happens to be the President of Estonia.

Along the way, he also met with a friend of mine, journalist/writer/engineer Margus-Hans Kuuse; he even provides a sidebar into to Margus-Hans in his feature.

Margus-Hans is the main info source of all things automotive in Eastern Europe, and has been that source since the Soviet era of the early 70’s. 

A couple of years ago, Margus-Hans used my Cevert portrait in a story of his, and I’ve since had the honour of being counted as one of his numerous friends.

It’s wonderful that this amazing pillar of automotive journalism be recognized for his groundbreaking work. Bravo!

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Racing History Greeting Cards

Recent, I decided to develop some greeting card sets for sale.

There are 5 different themes available:
1) Sports/GT Cars of the Early 60's  © Paul Chenard 2011

2) Ferrari 156 F1 "Sharknose"  © Paul Chenard 2011

3) 1934 Grand Prix Season  © Paul Chenard 2011

4) Grand Prix Engines of the 1950's  © Paul Chenard 2011

5) Hawthorn's Race Cars  © Paul Chenard 2011

There are 4 different illustrations per set, with 3 of each illustration, with descriptions on the back, 12 in all; envelopes are included.
Each set sells for $30 CDN plus shipping and applicable taxes. Please contact me at to order.

There a little something for everyone!

Thursday 3 November 2011

My “Silver Clouds” book reviewed …

There is a nice review by
Mark Dixon of my limited
edition book "Silver Clouds:
The 1934 Grand Prix Season"
in the November 2011 issue
of Octane magazine.