1969-1973 Porsche 917 Re-Creation

Car of the Month – July, 2024

1969-1973 Porsche 917 Re-Creation

1969-1973 Porsche 917 Re-Creation

Engines – 4.5 liter flat 12 (917); 5.4-liter twin turbo flat 12 (917/30)
Horsepower – 520 hp, 376 ft-lbs of torque @ 6800 rpm (917); 1,100hp, 810 ft-lbs of torque @ 6400 rpm (917/30)
Transmission – 5-speed manual
Curb Weight – 1,763 lbs
0-60 mph – 2.7 seconds (917); 2.1 seconds (917/30)
Top Speed – 246 mph (Le Mans Mulsanne Straight 1971)
Number built – 65 total units (11 versions)
MSRP Price – Purpose-built race car; no price advertised

In 1968, the FIA raised the engine displacement limit from three to five liters for the World Sportscar Championship, thereby limiting the competitiveness of the then-Porsche racing car of the time: the 908.

In a design/build phase that began in the spring of 1968, the new 917 took just 10 months to be readied for its public reveal in 1969. After debuting at the 24 Hours of Daytona, 917 racing cars would go on to win nine out of 10 races in the 1970 season.

Over the next three seasons, the 917 turned in an unprecedented run of victories in its many forms. In the 1971 season, the cars won seven out of 11 races, one of those being Le Mans with perhaps the most stunning performance ever seen at the revered circuit. The 917 #22 averaged 137.9 mph and covered a distance of 3,315 miles, a record that stood until 2010.

The 917 so dominated the World Sportscar Championship that at the end of the 1972 season the FIA reacted by banning its five-liter, 12-cylinder engine, thus ending the 917’s career in that series.

For the 1973 Can-Am series, talented American race car driver and engineer Mark Donohue helped develop the 917/30, and much of the car’s success can be attributed to him. The figures the car produced are every bit as fantastic today as they were half a century ago: powered by a 5.4-litre flat 12 turbo-charged engine, it produced 1,014 hp and reached a top speed of 239 mph.

Inevitably, the 917/30 outperformed all other cars in the series, with Mark Donohue driving to win six out of eight races on his way to the championship title. The car’s commanding performance once again led to new regulations for the following Can-Am season, effectively ending the 917’s racing career.

The 1970-1973 Porsche 917 is arguably the most successful race car ever created. Beyond its career, it lived on as a benchmark, pushing engineers to develop better aerodynamics, turbocharging, engines, and materials that could beat the outrageous records it set. In four years, the 917 lifted Porsche from relative obscurity and put it on a path that has made it the most successful motorsports marque in the world. The combination blue/orange color and the #20 on this car is the famous Gulf livery of the Porsche 917 used in Steve McQueen’s 1971 movie “Le Mans.”


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