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Special Exhibition at the Porsche Museum

#23 Porsche 917 KH 580 hp at the Le Mans 50 years victory celebration at the Museum on 13/14 June 2020
#23 Porsche 917 KH 580 hp at the Le Mans 50 years victory celebration at the Museum on 13/14 June 2020

1970 #23 Porsche 917 KH at the Le Mans 50 years victory celebration at the Museum on 13/14 June 2020
The 1970 #23 Porsche 917 KH at the Le Mans 50 years victory celebration at the Museum on 13/14 June 2020

More than 4.75 million visitors have passed through the doors of Porsche’s Museum in Stuttgart since the company officially opened its doors to the public on 31 January 2009. There is no question, the road and race cars on display make for fantastic viewing, and when compared to the old museum…well, there is just no comparison – read our earlier feature on “Then and Now.”

On 14 June 1970, Porsche achieved its first overall victory at Le Mans with the #23 917 KH prototype
On 14 June 1970, Porsche achieved its first overall victory at Le Mans with the 917 KH #23 prototype

At any one time, there are around 80 vehicles on display, but these are constantly changed around, and swapped out for other vehicles, so that the display always looks fresh. Some of the cars are rotated with others from the vehicle warehouse in Stuttgart, others are loaned out to dealers or for external exhibitions around the world, while still others participate in historic racing events such as Goodwood, Monterey Classics, and many other top meetings. In the last year alone, Porsche notched up more than 3000 vehicle movements in this way. You can imagine that in order to carry out this number of vehicle movements, it takes a small army to ensure that the vehicles are safely transported and well protected during international transfers.

In 1971 Gijs van Lennep and Helmut Marko also won the race in the 917 KH
In 1971 Gijs van Lennep and Helmut Marko also won the race in the 917 KH

During this past week, I have been photographing a selection of six historic race cars, some in the Museum and some in Porsche’s secret warehouse in Stuttgart. Watching the vehicle management staff at work, moving these (in some cases) multi-million Euro cars with ease and proficiency, it is obvious that they are well skilled at this important task. On the first day that I was photographing in the Museum, the Museum’s vehicle movement team were removing eleven cars from display, and replacing them with eleven new ones. That’s twenty-two vehicle movements in one day, in addition to all the moving around that I required that day!

1977: Le Mans overall winner: #4 Porsche 936 Spyder with Jürgen Barth, Hurley Haywood and Jacky Ickx
1977: Le Mans overall winner: #4 Porsche 936 Spyder with Jürgen Barth, Hurley Haywood and Jacky Ickx

So when it came to celebrating the company’s mighty haul of 19 Le Mans victories on the anniversary of Porsche’s first win back in June 1970, you can imagine that it was all hands on deck to make this one special exhibition. While that exhibition has come and gone, it is worth considering the significance of that milestone. They say that achieving your first victory in an international sport of any kind is the hardest, but once you have the first one in the bag, those victories that follow seem a little less daunting. That is not to say that winning at Le Mans for Porsche has become easy, because it hasn’t, but that first victory certainly opened the floodgates for the Stuttgart manufacturer.

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