1970 Porsche 917L
Engine: Flat 12-cylinder, dual overhead camshafts, Bosch mechanical fuel injection, 4999 cc, 630 bhp at 8400 rpm, 434 lb-ft at 6500 rpm; Gearbox: 5-speed Porsche transaxle; Brakes: 4-wheel disc; Suspension: front, independent by unequal control arms with coil springs over tubular shocks; rear, independent by unequal control arms and radius rods with coil springs over tubular shocks; Right hand drive.
Porsche built the 917 with one underlying goal: to win its first overall victory in the 24 Heures du Mans.
Starting in July 1968 twenty-five 917s were conceived, designed and built in only ten months to meet the FIA production minimum. Those first 25 examples incorporated remarkable technology: Porsche’s first 12-cylinder engine, an aluminum tube space frame chassis, myriad components from titanium, magnesium and exotic alloys, even suspension springs made from titanium wire. Over the next three years the Porsche 917 was to become a symbol of modern road racing technology, an effect far greater than would be expected from only the 37 examples built.
From the beginning, Porsche spent great efforts developing bodies with low aerodynamic drag for the Mulsanne Straight. They succeeded admirably, but on the track the slippery shape proved to be seriously unstable. At a late ‘69 test session which included the first prototype Can-Am 917, they realized the Can-Am car’s chunky high downforce design solved the 917’s stability problems and thenceforth ran two versions of the 917, the 917K (kurzheck, or short tail) and 917L (langheck). The latter were used in racing only at Le Mans. Only five 917Ls, of which this is one, were built, specifically to achieve Porsche’s ultimate goal, overall victory in the 24 Heures du Mans.
917-043 was supplied to Martini Racing for the 1970 Le Mans classic and began a tradition of exotic livery for certain Porsche team cars. Porsche’s new styling chief, Tony Lapine, gave the Martini 917 elaborate whorls and swoops of light green on a violet background, and earned it the instant nickname “The Hippie Car” from the team and media. Drivers Gerard Larousse and Willi Kauhsen performed perfectly in their supporting role to the factory cars, finishing second to Porsche’s first overall Le Mans winner,