The car that managed to clinch its first overall victory in the very first year of competing in the 1000 km race in Zeltweg, Austria in 1969 made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show on March 12, 1969. Porsche Museum celebrated the legendary car’s birthday by restoring the first ever 917 to its original condition.
The Porsche 917’s history as a test and presentation vehicle
Crafted as a group4 sportscar, designed to sweep the board at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and win the Brand World Championships, was the first of the 25 vehicles that had to be made to meet the requirement for type approval. Hanz Mezger was responsible for the vehicle, including the twelve-cylinder engine.
The Porsche 917-001 was used as a presentation vehicle when the company announced the transfer of its racing activities to the J.W. Automotive Engineering team, headed by Briton John Wyer. Following its first clean sweep at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 917-001 was then reworked into the short-tail version by Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood in September 1970; when the 917-001 was handed over to Porsche Salzburg in October 1970, it was in the colours of the car that won the Le Mans race and was emblazoned with starting number 23.
The Porsche 917’s dominance in motorsport
In 1970, a year after the 917’s debut, Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood achieved the overall victory at Le Mans – the greatest motorsport success the Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen company had ever achieved until that point. The following year Dr Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep bagged another victory for Porsche in the 917. The company continued further development with the 917/10 and 917/30 turbo versions developing over 986 stallions. George Follmer and Mark Donohue were able to dominate the North American CanAm Series in 1972 and 1973 respectively. An altered version of the turbo technology was also reused in the 911 Turbo, in 1974
The Porsche 917 Concept Study
Porsche Museum will honour the 50th anniversary of the 917 with a special exhibition entitled “Colours of Speed – 50 Years of the 917” from May 14 to September 15. A total of 14 exhibits – including ten 917 models which alone have a combined output of 7688 horses. The red-and-white show car was designed by a small team of designers and engineers, with the entry of Porsche into the LMP1 category of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), this model remained as purely a concept study. Edition Porsche Museum, the in-house publisher, will also release a book to mark the anniversary of the 917.