Porsche 917K #22 – Spark

Porsche 917K
1971 Porsche 917K
Pilots: H. Marko, G. van Lennep
Team: Porsche System / Martini
Race: 1st overall (S 5.0 class) at Le Mans in 1971
Spark - 43LM71 (resin)

Published 05/25/18

In 1970 Stuttgart dominated the World Sportscar Championship, specially with the Porsche 917K (“Kurzheck”) short tail version. However, for 1971 the competition would be stiffer, coming from the highly modified Penske Ferrari 512M and the new Alfa 33/3. So for the 24 Heures du Mans of 1971 the engineering team at Weissach revised the whole car. To make the 917 more aerodynamic, the tail of the car was redesigned, becoming less up-swept and with a more concave rear deck. To keep the moving air centered on the rear and therefore increasing downforce, two vertical fins were added to the sides of the tail.

917K #22
Porsche pressurized the chassis, so that it would be easy to detect a crack in the delicate magnesium tubes.

What that meant is that the new design generated a lot of down force and because the rear deck being now lower, there was less drag. And to make the car even lighter, a brand new chassis was made. Very similar to the 1970 version, but with a big difference: instead of aluminum tubes, Porsche used magnesium tubes. Interestingly, due to magnesium’s bad fame, the chassis was painted black, and even the pilots weren’t aware that it was not aluminum.

Porsche 917K
Does that stance look okay to you? Hmm…

The Type 912 flat-12 was one of the 917’s strong points, but Porsche wanted more. The engine was the same, with the DOHC and 24 valves setup, but expanded from the original 4494 cm³ to 4907 cm³. So with the added power and better aerodynamics, the new 917 was even faster than the 1970 car. To the point that in the hands of Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep the 917K #22 set an average speed record of 222.304 km/h. And to make things even more impressive, they also set a new overall distance record of 5335.313 km that stood until 2010 by Audi’s R15!

Maybe Spark got the stance wrong, but overall detail level is superb.

Unfortunately, for the next season, FIA outlawed the 917 by eliminating the Sports category. With that, Porsche’s Le Mans conqueror was out. In total, Porsche built 41 cars between the K and L versions, and of these, only three had a magnesium chassis (all Kurzhecks). The winning #22 was chassis #917-53. Allegedly, Porsche considers it “too fragile”, and after the race it went into storage as it came from the track. Recently, however, it went through a thorough restoration and now resides at the Porsche Museum. It’s the only surviving 917 with magnesium frame. You can see the #22 in action at Le Mans here (2’13”).

917K #22
Winner and winner.

Without a doubt this is one of the two most famous Porsche 917K. Therefore, it’s a must have for my collection – so yep, a grail model. And this is a special Porsche 917K, because it was a Christmas gift from my dear wife*. I don’t think I need to comment on the model per se because it’s an “average Spark”. In other words, it’s friggintastic, just like my #23. So to a Le Mans nut like me, a must have (long overdue).

*: Ever thought that an Aston Martin could morph into a Porsche? Well, it happened here. My Christmas (!!!) present was originally an Aston (Le Mans, of course), that my wife bought locally. It arrived with a missing wing mirror, so I had to send it back. Since the store didn’t have a good enough substitute, I ended up ordering this 917K #22 from eBay and only now (!!!) I got hold of it. Oh yes, a very lengthy resolution, but a mighty upgrade. My wife rocks!!!

2 thoughts on “Porsche 917K #22 – Spark”

  1. Oi Luciano,

    I came across this review roaming on your site and it’s my desire to share some thoughts because I added the same model to my collection about a year ago, the stance issue “troubled” me because this car is sitting very next to the winning ‘70 Hermann – Attwood Salzburg 917K which is perfect in this regard.

    It is as the car was studied from a picture of an acceleration just outside a corner so the constant pull up stance… to fix it my first try was to insert a small cardboard pieces over the rear wheels to level the car: an unsatisfying palliative: the work has to be done on the ride height and especially on the front, my desire was to dig the lodging of the metal axle on the resin chassis in order to have the front of the car sitting lower with the front wheels almost touching the arches for a maximum aerodynamic and aggressive look.

    For doing so I had to extract a front wheel from the axle as in a pit stop; here I failed, because they’re very strongly attached (by glue?). So now these are my chances: use some ungluing product, cut and then weld the axle in the centre (much riskier), dig the wooden base to accommodate the front and lower the car, sandpaper the rubber of the wheels… or just accept the way it is. For the time being I am displaying it showing the top which is a wonderful Martini view. Any thoughts from your experience, especially on the ungluing? I hope all this mess I wrote is somewhat understandable… anyways I salute you and wish you a nice weekend embellished by a wet and lively Interlagos grand prix and the Sakhir 8 hours season finale.
    Até logo,


    1. I think Spark modeled it “in motion” 😁.
      Still, you are correct – the front is too high. However, I’m not 100% sure the problem is the excessively high front. Maybe the rear should be a little higher, balancing out the ride height. The issue kind of bothered me, but than I looked how Spark fixed the wheel support to the chassis. The brake and front suspension are fixed to that vertical slab, that is part of the chassis. So you would have to cut that whole structure out and than, somehow, glue it higher/closer to the body above. When I saw this I ended all ideas to correct this, because at least for me, it would not be a simple task like just shimming the rear axle to correct the height (like I did with a Bizarre GT40). I also avoid messing with wheels and axles, because in my experience they can be a pain to remove (and than put back together) without damaging the disk brake. Really can’t say what you can do now, however I would ****NEVER**** sand the rubber of the tires.


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