Porsche 917 Timeline

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

1969 917 The original from which all others would be spawned, even if it was the least successful of all. Developed off the back of the successful 908, the 4.5-litre 12-cylinder 917 was first run at Spa and the Nürburgring before heading to Le Mans. It suffered significant handling problems, mostly attributed to aerodynamic lift. The problem was so bad that all of the originals were modified, so none existed in their true configuration until Porsche restored chassis 001 for its 50th anniversary.


1969 917PA Spyder With the PA standing for Porsche + Audi as part of a marketing exercise, the roof was chopped from the chassis to create an open sports-prototype developed solely for use within the North American Can-Am championship. It featured a signature upwards flick of the rear bodywork to aid aero stability over the coupé. Jo Siffert was the driver of note, scoring a podium finish after switching to the new car mid-season.


1970 917KH Upset by the original 917’s wandering at high speeds, Porsche’s technical department conducted several days of testing with British engineer and team owner John Wyer at the Osterreichring, where the original design and the open-topped PA ran back-to-back. The cure was the upwards sweeping rear bodywork, known as the Kurzheck, or short-tail. The improvement was obvious from the start and the Kurzheck became the design of choice for all races barring Le Mans, even though Richard Attwood and Hans Herrmann ironically delivered the 917’s (and Porsche’s) first win at La Sarthe in short-tail format.


1970 917L While the short-tail improved the 917’s high-speed stability, the new rear added drag, therefore restricting its top speed. Not ideal at Le Mans in the 1970s, when the circuit was mostly straights. The solution was this Le Mans-specific Langheck, or long-tail, design. Even though it brought back some of the stability issues of the original, factory driver Vic Elford found it to be 25mph quicker down the straights than the short-tailed 917s and Ferrari 512s, and became the first man to lap with an average of above 240kph – at 242.685kph. Two were entered by the factory, with Elford’s suffering engine failure and the sister car finishing second, behind the more stable 917KH.


1971 917 16-Cylinder With the more powerful McLaren M8Fs and Lola T260s coming to the fore in Can-Am, Porsche was in danger of being left behind, so started coaxing more power from its engine. This chassis, 027, was used to evaluate a series of 16-pot units, scaling from 6 to 7.2 litres. On the dyno the 7.2 touched 850bhp, but was believed to be capable of 880bhp. The engine was fitted into a streamlined, lengthened and surgically ventilated chassis and driven by Mark Donohue for a few tests, including 56 laps of Weissach in September when Donohue believed up to 2000bhp would be achievable with turbos. Porsche then switched focus to turbocharging instead. The car never raced and only one example exists, fitted with the 6.6-litre flat-16 unit.


1971 917K While Porsche offered the option to use a bored-out 4.9-litre version of the flat 12 in 1970, the factory cars opted to stick with the proven 4.5-litre variant for Le Mans. For 1971 the larger unit was more proven and was even extended to 5 litres. The 917’s chassis changed, too, with ultra-light gas-pressured tubular magnesium framing being used in the winning chassis, 053 – the only coupé Porsche would race with that high-risk, rather flammable, combination. Vertical rear fins added more stability without extra drag. The car won Le Mans on the first attempt with Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep.


1971 917LH Based on the same principle of reducing drag, Porsche refined its long-tail design for 1971, with a redesigned frontal section, partial rear wheel enclosures and a single-piece rear spoiler assembly. Three cars were entered for pole and, despite Jackie Oliver securing pole in one, none finished the race and the long-tail project was finally scrapped.


1971 917 Interserie Spyder When Germany launched its own Can-Am variant in the form of the high-powered Interserie championship, Porsche had a natural base with the 917. Three cars were built; two were adapted from 917 PAs, while the third was developed from the 917K that had been crashed at Le Mans by Mike Hailwood. It won the Interserie title twice on the trot in the hands of Jürgen Neuhaus and Leo Kinnunen respectively.


1971 917/10 Built for Can-Am, the original 917/10 was more of a development mule for things to come than an out-and-out quest for domination. Jo Siffert drove the boxy first design to fourth in the points, as McLarens dominated. With the rules being similar to Interserie, a few 917/10s also dipped into the German class.


1971 917/20 Beautiful and playful, or just plain ugly… this is the 917 that divided opinion, with perhaps the most distinctive livery of all time. Created as a one-off to fuse the strengths of both the K and LH variants, the 917/20 emerged as a rather swollen, bulbous creation, with low-slung, wide bodywork. Designed by Anatole Lapine, it was decked in pink and marked up in butchery cuts; so the Pink Pig was born. Only lightly tested before Le Mans, it qualified seventh before being crashed by Reinhold Joest.


1972 917/10 Having been regulated out of the World Sports Car Championship – and as a result Le Mans, too – by the 3-litre limit, Porsche focused its efforts on Can-Am, and the search for power truly began. The second-generation 917/10 ran a 5-litre flat-12 engine with twin turbochargers giving up to 1000bhp. The bodywork was heavily sculpted at the front and a huge rear wing added to generate downforce. George Follmer won the Can-Am crown in its first year.


1973 917/30 And so we come to the 917’s apotheosis. For the final official variant of the 917, the engineers were essentially given free rein. The result was one of the most powerful sports cars ever. With all-new bodywork, a longer wheelbase and its engine bored out to 5.4-litres, the 917/30 was capable of nudging 1500bhp with the turbo taps wide open, but never raced with more than 1100bhp. It dominated Can-Am, to the point where America largely lost interest in its flagship sports car series.

You may also like

Related products