Porsche – 917 K (1970)
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- Christophe Count d'Ansembourg (BE)
In the words of Ferdinand Piëch, the Race Director and Technical Director at Porsche, the 917 was “the car most fraught with risk in his life”. No less than “overall victory at Le Mans and winning the Sports Car World Championship” was the note made by Piëch in the specification. Engine designer Hans Mezger melded two 911 engines together and fitted the new engine with a turbocharger.
When the 25 vehicles required for homologation as a series sports car were presented to the FIA commissioners, some of the cars put forward were not even roadworthy yet. 580 hp generated by a turbocharged twelve-cylinder engine is regarded as a technological masterpiece to this day. This is for a number of reasons, but above all due to the engine. Hans Mezger designed the engine, which was conceived as a compact, air-cooled twelve-cylinder powerplant. It was not configured as a Boxer engine but as a V engine with a cylinder angle of 180 degrees, arranged with power take-off from the centre of the engine. This arrangement made it compact and efficient at the same time. In race trim it proved to be exceptionally powerful and enormously stable. While the 917 races with a long tail on high-speed circuits like Le Mans, this example from 1970 is presented as a version with a short tail, as indicated by the letter K (Kurzheck – short tail) after the number 917. This 917 K was a well-known icon in the scene and is still liveried in its original Martini & Rossi colours. The coupé lined up on the starting grid for Porsche in Salzburg before the American Porsche dealer Vasek Polak took over custodianship in 1972. Since 2005, the present owner has campaigned regularly in historic motor-sport events.