Porsche launched the 917 40 years ago and it’s still their most important racecar to date. This dangerous, yet successful machine gave Porsche victory at Le Mans and all the other international races of its time. Porsche started their long 917 race program in 1969 with a series of 25 identical cars that were upgraded throughout their career. The first major modification was a stability upgrade that came in 1970 with the 917 Kurzheck or short tail. Simultaneously a long tail ‘Langheck’ model was made for top speed down the Mulsanne Striaght.
By 1971 Porsche were experimenting with Can-Am versions and this 917 16-Cylinder Prototype was one of their first test mules. Eventually engineers turbocharged the design, leading to their most powerful variant, the 917/30 Spyder.
In 2007 we ran into the most impressive display of 917s to date at Rennsport Reunion III. A similar caliber of cars should be at this year’s Monterey Historic Races to support Porsche as a feature marque. One such car will be 917-21 currently being restored and documented online by Gunnar Racing of Palm Beach, Florida.