Steve McQueen was “The Man” for a generation, and racing through the night in a blue 917 became the holy grail of many fevered imaginations
Over three tumultuous seasons of World Championship endurance racing, Porsche’s 4.5-liter—and later 4.9 and 5.0-liter—917s fought a no-holds-barred battle with Fiat-Ferrari and their 5-liter, V12 Ferrari 512s. The Porsches proved dominant, and their 917K coupes played a major role in securing for the Stuttgart marque a hat trick of World Championship titles during 1969-71. The Porsche 917 is plainly too well known and understood to require a detailed introduction here. Suffice it to say that it is the iconic Porsche model which gave this legendary marque its first overall race victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car’s performance, despite the 917 design’s age of over 40 years, will, as one past world champion said, “…still take the crease out of your trousers.”
Broadly speaking, after the 1969 prototype cars had been developed to true competitive race worthiness, Porsche produced six variants of the 917. The first to shine with its cutback rear deck and short tail was the 917 Kurz (short)—popularly known as the 917K—on which guise the chassis now offered here first appeared at the 1970 Le Mans. At least two former endurance racing 917K coupes were cut down and fitted with ultra-lightweight Spyder bodywork and naturally aspirated engines. This particular car offered here—1970 chassis serial ‘026’—was one of these cars and is offered here in contemporary Interserie racing configuration.
The car was acquired by the Chandon family in France, from whom it was purchased by Michael Amalfitano in 1987. Mr. Amalfitano commissioned the team at Gunnar Racing to perform extensive body and chassis restoration during 2006-07. The chassis was crack-tested for safety, with the goal of returning 026/031 to the track. As offered here, we are advised that the car is equipped with a 5.4-liter version of the naturally aspirated, air-cooled, flat-12 cylinder engine, offering some 630 horsepower in a road-racing projectile weighing around 1,600 lbs. This mouth-watering example of one of the rarest of Porsche 917 series models has a well-understood and very respectable racing history in its Interserie Spyder form. It also offers a new owner the most attractive prospect of relatively easy restoration into its original Le Mans endurance racing coupe form, as campaigned by the dominant and most revered World Championship team of that extraordinary era. It represents, in essence, a high-water mark of motor racing history as one of the greatest racing cars of all time.