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50 Years of the Porsche 917 – Colours of Speed

The Porsche 917-001 will be shown in the Porsche Museum for the first time in its original condition
The Porsche 917-001 will be shown in the Porsche Museum for the first time in its original condition

My 2019 European Expedition had been organised for some months, which was to take in the WEC Spa-Francorchamps 6 Hours (1-4 May) followed by almost a week in Stuttgart (5-10 May). It had not occurred to me and nor had I been informed, that Porsche was preparing its “50 Years of the Porsche 917 – Colours of Speed” exhibition at their Museum in Stuttgart. That’s what is known as being in the right place at the right time!

“50 Years of Porsche 917 – Colours of Speed” will show the brightness of all the 917 models
The name says it all: “50 Years of Porsche 917 – Colours of Speed” will show the brightness of all the 917 models

The whole reason for my trip to Porsche in Stuttgart this May was to photograph a bunch of iconic race cars, for features planned in the future. It was purely coincidental that two of the cars planned for the said exhibition, just happened to also be on my list to photograph – the #64 Porsche 908 LH and the #23 Porsche 917/20 “Sau.”

The #23 Porsche 917/20 "Sau" (1971) at Porsche Museum May 2019
The #23 Porsche 917/20 “Sau” (1971) at Porsche Museum May 2019

The #64 Porsche 908 LH 3-litre (1968) at Porsche Museum May 2019
The #64 Porsche 908 LH 3-litre (1968) at Porsche Museum May 2019

This year, 2019, is of course a very important milestone in Porsche’s motorsport heritage, as it is the 50th anniversary of the introduction of Porsche’s all-conquering 917 race car. The Porsche Museum is, as expected, honouring the 50th anniversary of this racing icon from 14 May to 15 September 2019 as part of a comprehensive special exhibition entitled “50 Years of the Porsche 917 – Colours of Speed.” A total of 14 exhibits – including ten 917 models and the 908 LH (that almost snatched the 1969 Le Mans 24 Hours from Ford), will be on show. The ten 917s alone boast a total of 7490 PS!

A journey back to the origin: legends amongst themselves
A journey back to the origin: legends amongst themselves

917-001 restored to its original 1969 condition

The Group 4 sports car was developed to secure an overall win in the Le Mans 24-hour race and to win the World Championship for Makes. It was manufactured in 1969 as the first of a total of 25 vehicles required for type approval by the CSI (the competition department of the FIA). The #001 marks the start of the unprecedented success story of the 917 racing car, and is therefore the highlight of the special exhibition. For more than a year, museum mechanics, former technicians and engineers from Zuffenhausen and Weissach, the Porsche AG historic archive, as well as partner companies, have worked on restoring this first 917. It is now in exactly the same condition as it was on 12 March 1969, when it was presented to the world at the Geneva Motor Show.

Historical staging of the 917 line up at Werk 1 in Zuffenhausen, where the race department was situated back in the days
Historical staging of the 917 line up at Werk 1 in Zuffenhausen, where the race department was situated back in the days

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