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Jun 21

Film Friday: Porsche 917

The 90th running of the 24hrs of Le Mans takes place this weekend and while there are many Porsches in the field none of them are comparable to the legendary 917.  Hit the jump for a couple of videos detailing the 917, including Porsche’s 1970 world championship year.


It’s hard to imagine a car like the 917 ever existed.  With a number variants, some of which had more than 1000hp and could top 240mph, the 917 family of cars was a formidable piece of kit during the early 1970s.

 

Raced in European endurance series as well as the American Can Am series the 917 family existed in an era when out right power and speed were king.

 

Originally designed and built in 1968, to take advantage of a loophole in FIA regulations for the 1969-1971 seasons, the 917 sported a spaceframe chassis surrounding a massive 4.5l flat 12 aircooled engine.

Porsche 917 engine bay by bjmullan, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  bjmullan 

 

Transitioning from Porsche’s previous works car, the beautiful 908, caused a few problems for the factory.  The mosterous flat 12 engine and slippery aerodynamics meant the 917was nearly 20mph faster.  The 917 was fast enough that the car’s lack of downforce made it exceptionally difficult to drive.  It wasn’t until the 1970 K variant (like the red car pictured above) that the 917 began to dominate sports car racing.

The video below showcases the glorioius sounds of a flat 12 at full song .

This video has a quick look at the creation of the 917 with some really funny commentary by Brian Redman.

For a really great look into the 1970 championship winning Gulf 917 we’ve found this period video

 

Is the 917 the most epic race car in history?  Let us know what you think in the comments below.