The Porsche 917
Perhaps the most controversial car of all time, the Porsche 917 made its dubut in 1969. It carried a monster Flat-12 engine. It would come to completely dominate the sport of racing to the point where nothing else could even come CLOSE enough to compare to it. Simply an all-doing god to the meek competitors of which it blew from the track. In time, the 917 was banned from racing all together, but it many glory days during its reign. This car made people utterly speechless. To begin with, the 917's chassis was from the 908, but strengthened and enlarged for the 12 cylinger engine. Its exact displacement came to 4494cc. It showed up in Group 4 in 1969 weighing just over 800kg (1,760lbs). The engine size limit was 5.0 Liters, but at 4.5 Liters, the 917 was already packing 580 Horsepower! It was, in its first form, the fastest car in the world. Porsche built the Kurz and Langheck versions (short and Long tail), the Langheck being capable of 236mph on the track at LeMans. Both versions had suspension-controlled aerodynamic flaps, which were banned at almost the maiden race. In 1970, Gulf-Wyer took the reigns as the forefront 917 team, even though Porsche still had its own racer, as well as Martini's first 917 team.
They came right on in and took LeMans by storm, sweeping the field 1-2-3. The other cars were oblivious to this 917 racecar. You just couldn't touch it. It won every race in 1970 except for 3; Sebring, the Targa, and Nurburgring. By 1971, it was just too out of reach for anyone, and the 917's won every race held. Even so, Porsche stepped up this displacement to the 5.0L limit! Now outputting 630 horses, the 917 was just creeping farther and farther out of reach. 1971 marked the end to the Group 4 racing, as 5.0 Liter cars would not be eligible in 1972. So the 917 just decide to go rule the Can-Am races.
Now this time, Porsche took out the 5.0 Liter engine and further fortified it with a big turbocharger which boosted to 20psi. Now called the 917/10, it unleashed 1000 horsepower in the competitors' faces. Mark Donohue became the top driver for it. The 917/10 sported a stiffer chassis, new gearbox, better cooling, and huge brakes. Donohue and Porsche developed the body to where it created tremendous downforce at speed, to where the car stuck like glue no matter how fast you went. The 917/10 blew McLaren and everyone else away in 1972, to no suprise. For 1973, the bad-ass came out of the garage with a new 5.4 Liter turbocharged powerplant, which at mild boost developed 1,100 Horses, and at full boost sprung 1,560 Horsepower from its gut! It was now called the 917/30.
By now, Donohue could practically drive with his eyes closed, as the 917 was in fact virtually unbeatable, anywhere, at anytime in the world. It becam so unfair, such an all-out rout on the track, that the 917 was banned for competition in 1974. The "authorities" re-wrote the rule books to effectively bar turbochargers completely from yet another series. With the 917 having no where else it could race, it retired, leaving Porsche on top of every aspect of racing, able to beat ANYTHING that ANYBODY put forth.
Back to the Main Page