Tag Archives: 917

A Short Tale – Porsche 917K #917-015

Despite the success of winning the 1969 International Championship for Makes handsomely with a maximum of 45 points with their 3 litre/183 cui 908 model Porsche officially withdrew from the series with two rounds to go having failed to win any of the three marquee events of the series at Daytona, won by Roger Penske’s Lola Chevrolet T70, Sebring and Le Mans won by John Wyers ancient Gulf Sponsored Ford GT40 Mk I’s.

Porsche came to an agreement with John Wyer to run a works supported team of 917’s in all but the Targa Florio and Nurburgring rounds of the 1970 series where the 908 was deemed sufficiently competitive to win outright as it had the previous season.

John Wyers JW Automotive Team tested a 917 at Zeltweg in October 1969 and developed the Kurz Heck, also known as K, KH and Short Tale bodywork seen on today’s featured car, the rear aerofoil would first appear mid season at Le Mans.

Porsche 917K, Niello Concours at Serrano,

The first round of the 1970 International Championship for Makes was the 24 hour race at Daytona where Pedro Rodriguez Leo Kinnunen and Brian Redman qualified chassis #917-015 2nd behind the debutant Ferrari 512S model driven by Mario Andretti, Arturo Merzario and Jacky Ickx.

Pedro, Leo and Brian won the race by 45 laps from the sister car shared by Brian and Jo Siffert with the Ferrari of Mario, Art and Jacky 3 laps further back.

Chassis #015 was used as a team spare at Sebring where Mario Mario was drafted in to join Ignazio Giunti and Nino Vaccarella to drive the race of his life to secure Ferrari’s only championship win of the season.

Porsche 917K, Niello Concours at Serrano,

At the 1970 Watkins Glen Can Am round chassis #015 made it’s only other race appearance of the season with a smart new paint job and a rear wing fitted, Brian finished the race in seventh place and for the remainder of the season the car reverted to the role of team spare.

Porsche went on to secure the 1970 International Championship for Makes with a maximum 63 points from Ferrari, JW Automotive won seven of the ten races only being usurped by the Porsche Salzburg 917 at Le Mans. JW Automotive and Porsche Salzburg each won a race Targa Florio and Nurburgring respectively with the older 908 spyder model.

Now it get’s complicated Porsche sold the chassis #015 to the Finish AAW team while retaining the chassis tag which Porsche reassigned to #917-035 which was taken from stock and given to JW Automotive for the 1971 season.

AAW rebuilt chassis #015 into a spyder and fitted the motor from their 917 chassis number #917-021, the complete car was given the identity #917-01-021.

Leo Kinnunen, who remember had won the 1970 Daytona 24 hours in the chassis with it’s orignal ID tag, was employed to drive #917-01-021 in the 1971 Interserie Championship, a European unlimited series.

The flying Fin Leo scored an outright win at home in Keimola with enough further placings to secure the 1971 Interserie Championship.

Many years later Kevin and Bob Rapp took #01-021 to Gunnar Racing who reconstructed #015 as it is seen in today’s photograph’s, using those parts of the original #917-015 chassis that remained and reconstructed the spyder #917-01-021 from the remainder with a new chassis.

Using respected historian Doug Nye’s principal that a chassis history is not transferable, with it’s chassis plate for example, then today’s featured car can be seen as the original #917-015, though I suspect the Porsche #917-035 which was given the #015 tag by the factory in 1971 probably still has that tag attached, 035/015 which is most certainly not the car that won the 1970 Daytona 24 hour race, today can be seen at the Porsche Museum.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing today’s photographs of Bruce Canepa’s Porsche 917 at Niello Concours at Serrano a couple of years ago.

Thanks for joining me on this “A Short Tale” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t for get to come back now.


Sechzehnzylinder Monster – Porsche 917 PA #917-027

With few entrants ready, willing and or able to compete in the 3 litre / 183 cui prototype sports car class in April 1968 the governing CSI reduced the production numbers mandated to compete in the 5 litre / 302 cui sport category from 50 to 25.

With this change in regulations Porsche saw an opportunity to build a 917 Coupé powered by a Type 912 12 cylinder motor that would give it a shot at winning the 1970 Le Mans 24 Hour race.

Porsche 917 PA, Goodwood Festival of Speed

An unforeseen benefit of the Porsche 917 Le Mans programme arose when Porsche decided to have a crack at the North American Can Am series for unlimited sports cars in mid 1969.

For it’s first attempt at the Can Am series Porsche built two 917 PA spiders one of which would enter the fray midway through the 1969 Can Am series driven by Jo Siffert.

Porsche 917 PA, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Today’s featured car chassis #917-027 was the first of the two chassis and it was retained at the Porsche factory for development purposes.

It soon became apparent that the 917 PA was too heavy and not developing enough horsepower to compete with the dominant McLaren’s driven by Peter Revson and Denny Hulme so Porsche looked at two ways of getting more horsepower from the type 912 flat 12 motor they had developed originally to tackle Le Mans.

Porsche 917 PA, Goodwood Festival of Speed

One was to turbocharge the existing engine and the other was to add 2 additional cylinders to either end of the 912 flat twelve whose cam shafts were centrally driven.

After testing the 840hp 6.700 litre / 408.9 cui sixteen cylinder car Mark Donohue described it as a monster which in turbocharged form might have produced 2000hp.

Porsche 917 PA, Goodwood Festival of Speed

However the engineers at Weissach came to the conclusion that the 1000hp and more available from the turbocharged 12 cylinder motor would be more than sufficient to do the job, and so it proved.

George Follmer captured the 1972 Can Am title driving Roger Penske’s L&M Porsche 917/10 after Penske’s No 1 driver Mark Donohue was injured and had to miss 5 rounds of the nine race series.

Porsche 917 PA, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Mark Donohue followed that up in 1973 by capturing the title in Roger Penske’s Sunoco Porsche 917/30.

Thanks for joining me on this “Sechzehnzylinder Monster” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Nathan D. Muir – Porsche 912

From the outset an entry level Porsche based on the 911 model was planed to be fitted with a four cylinder motor to replace the Porsche 356 when production of the older model ceased in April 1965.

Porsche 912, Bristol

The new model was originally known internally as the 902 but after problems with the 901 model designation with Peugeot the new model was always publicly known as the 912, not to be confused with the Porsche project number 912 which referred to the flat 12 racing motors used to power the Porsche 917 racing cars.

Porsche 912, Bristol

Initial ideas for the 4 cylinder motor to be used in the 912 model included building a four cylinder version of the 6 cylinder 911 motor and an enlarged version of the 4 cylinder motor used in the Porsche 356 but eventually it was decided to lower the compression ratio of the original Porsche 356 motor and fit Solex carburettors of the 1582cc / 96.5 cui motor to produce 90hp.

Porsche 912, Bristol

To keep the costs down some of the standard features of the 911 were deleted from the 912, which outsold the 911 until the 912s production facilities were turned over to the Porsche VW 914-6 for the 1970 model year.

Porsche 912, Bristol

Although not as potent as it’s bigger 130 hp sibling the 912s lighter motor meant the smaller engine car had slightly improved handling which proved useful to Polish Porsche privateer Sobiesław Zasada who won the 1967 European Rally championship in his Porsche 912 which included an outright win in the 1967 Polish Rally.

Porsche 912, Bristol

A Porsche 912 was also entered in the 1967 Spa 24 hours for Hans Finke and Jean Sage, it qualified 33rd but failed to finish after an issue with the oil radiator. In 1968 Swiss duo James Bernard Fortmann and Urs-Peter Dietrich could not get with in 10 seconds of the qualifying time set by Finke and Sage at Spa the previous year but still started the ’68 edition of the Spa 24 hours in 51st and managed to bring their 912 home in 25th place.

Porsche 912, Bristol

Fans of Robert Redford may remember him staring in the 2001 thriller Spy Game, in the film Redford’s character Nathan D. Muir drives a Porsche 912, though it appears to be dubbed with a 911 engine sound except in the alternate ending version on DVD. More on how the 912 came to be chosen for filming on this link.

Porsche 912, Bristol

Regular readers may remember that a couple of years ago I featured a Porsche 912 in need of some TLC, I caught up with the car seen above again at the end of last year.

Porsche 912, Bristol

The transformation from junk yard dog to a 912 Carrera looks cool, officially the car is still listed as having it’s original size 1582cc / 96.5 cui motor.

Thanks for joining me on this Nathan D. Muir edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be featuring a couple of 1966 French Porsche advertisements. Don’t forget to come back now !


Comeback Kid – Porsche 936 #001

The Porsche 936 was the successor to the 908 and 917 models, it was used to win the World Sports Car Championsip in 1976. Three chassis based on many parts from the Porsche 917 parts bin were made.

All three chassis won the Le Mans 24 hour race; chassis #002 in 1976, #001 in 1977, both with a 540 hp 2140 cc / 130 cui turbocharged flat 6 motors and #003 in 1981 with a 600 hp 2649 cc / 161 cui turbocharged flat 6, a design that had started out as the alcohol burning engine used by Danny Ongias in the unraced Interscope Parnelli Indy Car. Remarkably Jacky Ickx co drove each of these 936’s to Victory Lane at Le Mans.

Porsche 936, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

This car represents chassis #001 which was slated to be driven by Juergen Barth and Le Mans rookie Hurley Haywood in the 1977 Le Mans 24 hours, a fuel pump replacement in the 3rd hour dropped #001 down to 42nd place. Around this time Henri Pescarolo’s engine had expired in the sister #002 chassis and Pescarolo’s team mate, Jacky Ickx, was drafted in to join Barth and Haywood.

By his own admission Jacky drove the race of his life through the night and after 19 hours the #001 was in the lead of the race, the three works Renault Alpines dropped out while dominating the race in the Porsche’s absence with engine failures. With 45 mins to go the engine in #001 developed a second misfire, the mechanics shut down the problematic cylinder by taking out the spark plug and blanking the fuel injector.

Porsche 936, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

Ten mins before the end of the race Juergen Barth was then sent out with a stop watch taped to the steering wheel and instructed to complete the last two laps, within the necessary percentage of each other, to seal an unlikely victory by 11 laps over the Renault powered Mirage GR8 of Vern Schuppan and Jean Pierre Jarrier.

During the race a wheel balance weight tore off the right front wheel ripped through the wheel arch, and both stalk mounted mirrors were lost. The large air box was primarily used to cool the turbocharged air running through the intercoolers.

Porsche 936, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

The following year Bob Wollek joined Juergen Barth in #001 and when the sister #003 car retired after an accident Jacky Ickx joined Bob and Juergen too however this time they could only finish 2nd to the Alpine Renault of Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud.

#001’s next two appearances were at the Silverstone 6 hours and Le Mans 24 hours in 1979 it qualified on pole for both of these events, but was classified 10th at Silverstone after an accident which caused Jochen Mass and Brian Redmans retirement from the lead at Silverstone. Bob Wollek and Hurley Haywood retired with engine failure at Le Mans in 1981 as has Jurgen Barth and Reinhold Joest driving #001 at Le Mans in 1976. The cars final appearance as a works car was at the 1981 Le Mans 24 hours where despite starting from 2nd on the grid Jochen Mass, Vern Schuppan and Hurley Haywood could only finish 12th.

Porsche 936, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

The following linked films document the 1977 Le Mans race; the first shows fabulous in car footage of a lap of Le Mans the second show’s the start and continues into the evening and the third the finish, I afraid most of the commentary is in German except a couple of interviews with Jacky Ickx and Hurley Haywood.

Thanks for joining me on this “Comeback Kid” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for the 1000th edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”. Don’t forget to come back now !


Field Filler – Ferrari 512 S #1006

17 Ferrari 512 S’s and parts for 8 others were built in late 1969 in response to the 25 917’s Porsche had built in early 1969 in order to be allowed to race in the World Sports Car Championship which allowed up to 5 litre / 305 cui engines. These rules were introduced so that a few old Ford GT 40’s could continue racing, it was never imagined that Porsche and then Ferrari would build 25 cars each to take part in the series which was intended to be for new 3 litre / 183 cui cars like the Ferrari 312P and Porsche 908.

Unlike Porsche who planned on using private works supported teams to run and develop the 917’s on it’s behalf, Ferrari planned on using a single works team to build and develop the 512 S, supplying the rest of the 512 S models to private entrants to whom Ferrari gave little by way of support effectively treating it’s privateer teams as little more than field fillers.

Ferrari 512 S, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Ferrari had to sell his road car operation to FIAT in order finance the production to the 512 S model, and as it turned out Porsche’s private partners had snapped up most of the best drivers.

Nonetheless Ferrari took the fight to Porsche with a single championship victory at the 1970 Sebring 12 hours courtesy of Mario Andretti, Nino Vaccarella and Ignazio Guinti driving a 512 S who beat Peter Revson and actor Steve McQueen in their Porsche 908 after Mario famously drove the last 90 mins of the race and chased down an exhausted Peter Revson in what Mario once described as the race of his life.

For most of the rest of the 1970 season the Ferrari 512 S was out classed every where, except at the non championship race run at Kyalami in South Africa, by the Porsche 917’s, particularly those of the JW Automotive team. Ferrari had difficulty selling all of it’s 512 S models, where as Porsche had to build a second run of 25 917’s to meet demand.

Ferrari 512 S, Goodwood Festival of Speed

This 512 S spyder, chassis #1006, was developed in order to save 25 kgs by the factory and sold to Luigi Chinetti’s N.A.R.T. team. Ronnie Buchnum and Tony Adamowicz drove it into second place at the 1971 24 hours of Daytona.

#1006 had to have both front and rear bodywork replaced during the course of the race, the body work is as it appeared on #1006 when it started the 1971 Daytona 24 hours with aerodynamic lips on the nose, which were not on the second nose fitted when it finished the race.

Thanks for joining me on this “Field Filler” edition of “Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a look at a one off Formula One Lotus that never raced. Don’t forget to come back now.


Thirty Years Ago – Le Mans 1981

This weekend sees the 79th running of the Le Mans 24 hours , unfortunately I will not be there in person but will almost certainly follow the progress of the race on the internet. Thirty years ago I went to Le Mans for the first time.

Porsche 917 K81, Le Mans

I arrived as practice was already under way, one of the many reasons I had wanted to see this particular race was because the Kremer brothers were running a brand new Porsche 917, see above, that they had built for the 1981 season, ten years after the original 917, immortalised in Steve McQueen’s film that takes its title from the race, had been made obsolete by the FIA.

It looked great sounded even better with a 5 litre / 305 cui flat 12 however it was a disappointment qualifying only 18th. During the race Bob Wollek the cars only professional driver took no further part in the race after his friend Jean-Louis Lafosse driving the #25 Rondeau was killed in an accident. The 917’s remaining drivers Xavier Lapeyre and Guy Chasseuil retired after completing 82 laps.

Le Mans

There is no on track action on the Friday before the 24 hours and back in 1981 spectators had access to virtually all area’s while the teams prepared for the race.

Chevrolet Camaro, Le Mans

Cale Yarborough joined AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti in becoming one of the few drivers to compete at Le Mans, the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500 in 1981. While his #35 Stratagraph Camaro sounded good, easily the loudest car in the race, and was as fast as any other vehicle in a straight line, topping 200 mph, the Camaro’s brakes were puny compared to the competition and simply not up to the job of slowing, easily the heaviest car in the race, down. After the first hour the brakes gave up and Cale resorted to driving the car into the wall, ironically at the corner called ‘Indianapolis’ in order to bring his car to a stop, without injury to himself or anyone else.

Lola Ford T600, Le Mans

The weekend of the 1981 Le Mans 24 hours was an absolute scorcher, Spaniard Emillio de Vilotta prepares to board his Lola T600 which he shared with Guy Edwards and Juan Fernandez, The Ford DFL powered #18 Lola started 12th and finished 15th after a multitude of problems which included running the last couple of hours in top gear only.

Porsche 936 81, Le Mans

For this race Porsche AG prepared two special 936 models fitted with 2.65 litre / 161 cui twin turbo flat 6 motors that had originally been designed to run on methanol in the Interscope Indy car project. The #11 of Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell was the class of the field qualifying 3 seconds ahead of it’s sister driven by Mass / Schuppan / Haywood and finishing the 24 hour race with a record lead of 14 laps over 112 miles after covering a total distance of 4825 kms / 2998 miles.

Le Mans

Like many people I enjoyed taking a pictures of the cars at night, unlike many people this led to an all consuming passion for artificial light and film which after many years took me into the realms of art and animation.

Rondeau M379, Le Mans

The only challenge to the utter dominance of Porsche at the 1981 race came from the 5 car Rondeau team, it was the teams two slower GTP cars that survived the night with Jacky Haran, Jean Louis Schlesser and Philippe Streiff coming home a distant second in the #8 Rondeau M379 with

Rondeau M379, Le Mans

Gordon Spice and erstwhile Connew pilot Francois Migault coming home third in the #7 Rondeau. Both of the Rondeaus were powered by detuned 3 litre / 183 cui Ford DFV motors more commonly found in Grand Prix cars.

Porsche 935 K3, Le Mans

After a couple of hours sleep the relentlessness of 24 hour racing really came home to me on the circuit that used to be known as the world fastest round about. The #55 Porsche 935 K3 of Claude Bourgoignie, John Cooper, Dudley Wood, seen here just after dawn came in 4th overall winning the Group 5 class. I believe this vehicle has passed through the hands of Nick Mason, it may still be in his collection.

Ferrari 512 BB LM, Le Mans

The #47 Ferrari 512BB LM #31589 of Andruet/Ballot-Léna qualified 37th, and finished 5th o/a 1st in IMSA GTX.

WM P79/80, Le Mans

The PRV (Peugeot Renault Volvo) Turbo V6 powered #4 WM 79/80 of Denis Moran, Charles Mendez and Xavier Mathiot started 16th and came in 13th the faster #82 P81 sister car of Thierry Boutsen was not so lucky having an accident on the Mulsanne Straight which resulted in the death of a track worker at the end of the first hour of the race.

Bell & Ickx, Le Mans

Despite two fatalities during the race victory celebrations went ahead as usual, not sure that would happen today.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s trip into memory lane and that you’ll join me again tomorrow for a look at a unique vehicle called The Farrallac. Don’t forget to come back now !