a James Dean’s Porsche-styled motorcycle

 Thursday, April 21, 2005   URL should be Marion Chronicle-Tribune.  I put it on at www.tentativetimes.net/cycle/50thcycl.html  for fear it might not stay on Marion’s site forever and ever.

Cycle built to resemble Dean’s car

It will be on display at Brickyard 400



Photo provided

DEAN REPLICA – In the photo above is a replica of the Porsche Spyder that belonged to the late actor James Dean as well as the motorcycle Fairmount resident Jeff Cooper helped create. In the photo at left, is Cooper on the motorcycle.


FAIRMOUNT – It is well-known by now that Fairmount native and actor James Dean died in a car crash driving his Porsche Spyder.

The design of that sleek car has been reborn, in a motorcycle no less, thanks to Fairmount resident Jeff Cooper.

"We based the design of the bike to the car that Jimmy was killed in," Cooper said. "That’s where the idea comes from – a friend of mine from Nashville, Brian Hattom, he’s the one who has the replica Porsche in Fairmount every year on Museum Days."

Once the idea was born, Cooper and Hattom contacted Reggie Gay, concept designer from General Motors in Detroit, and formulated a style of bike.

With the bike assembled, its life has just begun.

"The bike is touring, and it’s going to go to a lot of big races, like the Brickyard 400," Cooper said. "They’re hitting some bike meets, and some vintage car races. There are about 23 or 24 stops."

The first stop was the Daytona, Fla., during Bike Week. Cooper and his friend, Dean relative Coy Winslow, attended that event.

Although Cooper and Winslow were familiar with the design and meaning behind the motorcycle, only those who are well-versed with the history of Dean would, at first glimpse, notice the astonishing resemblance, Cooper said.

"It was the first time it was designed with the replica Porsche right next to it. That way people could see what we were going after," he said.

"The wheels on the bike are designed after the Porsche. We had those custom-machined so they look similar.

"And of course, the paint job is the same. The number 130 on the side is also the same. It went over really well.

"But, if you’re not a James Dean fan, then they don’t put two and two together. But, sitting right next to the car, it was really neat. You could tell it was designed to be similar."

The automobile background of Cooper and Winslow go as far back as their friendship, and has continued to grow as they have spearheaded many projects.

"We’ve been friends for year and years," Winslow said. "I’ve had a motorcycle since I was probably 10 or 11, and he’s been interested in them just as long.

"It’s been a mutual interest. He’s one of those guys who’s a lot like me. He works on (Winslow’s motorcycle), I do work for him. He has some motorcycles that I’ve done painting on, and I have a motorcycle that he’s done the mechanical work on."

As a second cousin of Dean, Winslow feels the positive feedback firsthand.

"It is very flattering that they would want to build this to honor him," Winslow said.

Originally published April 21, 2005

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